Monday, June 20, 2016

Me Before You

I have been following many of the comments regarding the popularity of “Me Before You.” Defenders of the Time’s Best Seller make some good arguments. 

The primary argument is that the book is fiction and only tells the story of one man. People, including its author, Jojo Moyes, argue that the story is absolutely not supportive of eugenics or assisted suicide. The story means to be a great, golden age love story. Remember “An Affair to Remember?” 

Moyes also argues that she doesn’t think its right for anyone to make a judgment on the story until they have read the book or seen the movie (i.e given her more money). But, fair enough. I decided to check it out for myself.

Here is a quote from a friend to the girlfriend speaking about the main character, Will, who is “wheelchair bound” as the flap on the book tells us.

“’There have been times when I’ve stayed over and he’s woken up screaming because in his dreams he’s still walking and skiing and doing stuff and just for those few minutes, when his defenses are down, and it’s all a bit raw, he literally can’t bear the thought of doing it again. He can’t bear it. I’ve sat there with him and there is nothing I can say to the guy, nothing that is  going to make it any better. He’s been dealt the shittest hand of cards you can imagine. And you know what? I looked at him last night and I thought about his life and what it’s likely to become.’”

There are a number of things that are wrong with this picture.

11.     Moyes is using disability as a metaphor. This isn’t a portrayal of an actual disabled person. The disability is acting as a literally device for plot development of a love story. Disabled people are exhausted from this cliché that is so pervasive. Remember “An Affair to Remember?” They are supposed to meet on the Empire State Building to declare their love. But, the female character doesn’t show up because she’s been hit by a car and paralyzed from the waist down. Plot development. "Affair" was actually campy and strange. The boyfriend said "I'll love you all the same." Flawed for sure. But at least he didn't help her off herself and run to the bank!

22. When parsed together views of what is compassionate euthanasia --and what is not-- are hypocritical and nonsensical. I understand Will’s passion for skiing and traisping around, however, what about other conditions that hamper these abilities? Aging? Poverty? Having children? Being in a depression? In what situations should a person be encouraged to acclimate and in what situations should killing yourself be lauded. This just exposes the view of disability. People in their 80s are not told to kill themselves because they can’t ski anymore. BTW, what happened to Will's prowess as a business man? Is that gone too? Someone call FDR!

3.3  Everyone is in pain, yet euthanasia is lauded only for disabled people. Again, this is about outside perception.

44.    This is just dumb. Really? A guy who has bags of money and a cute girl in love with him has no reason to live? By the way, has this guy ever tried, like, reading a book? Most people don’t spend their lives doing extreme sports! But again, there is the fantasy. The fantasy of physical perfection given and taken away. Instead of exploring what is possible, and how a life can change and deepen, it is “brave” for Will to kill himself. Note: At the end of the book the girl is having coffee and headed off to the “parfummerie” and the whole of Paris beyond. Sounds physically taxing, doesn’t it?

55.    Is it ok for Moyes to co-opt a person from a community that she doesn’t belong to nor have any experience with? This has become a no-no in terms of race, gender and sexuality, but in disability, it remains the accepted norm.

66. There are no books published by or about sexy capable disabled people. They are supressed. The culture doesn't want them. The culture wants someone to look down at. They don't want to be threatened by all these disabled people going around. How could someone with a disability possibly be happy? Moyes is ready to help... all the way to the bank.


jules said...

Hi Jennifer! Good meeting you & the boys in Paradise (aka Harriman St Pk)!


Dutch Denooyer said...

Having cerebral palsy myself, I enjoyed reading the Op-Ed piece which appeared in the New York Times this week.

Being a heterosexual male myself, I've had similar difficulties attracting women.

Keep up the good writing and I look forward to reading more of your work.'


John M. Denooyer