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Author Topic: Me Before You
PanaceaSanans
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Talk about an interesting idea with (IMHO) weak novelization.

I happened upon the movie trailer, thought it fascinating, went to get the book before the movie was released, read the book and was rather underwhelmed by it. The movie is superbly played, though, thus very touching, and (never thought I'd ever say this) I think it is much better than the book.

So in the book the author sets up this story of a young, not too intellectually gifted, extrovert girl (Louisa) who desperately needs money and starts working as a caretaker for a thirty-two(?) year old quadriplegic (William), who in turn is supposedly very clever, was extremely successful before his accident, stems from a rich family, was not a very pleasant person before but now becomes noble while suffering and kind in his attempt to humor this girl who tries so very hard to make him love life again. As I had expected, I found Louisa very annoying and William bittersweet and gracious.

Minor Spoiler starts here.
But then when Louisa finally discovers she has feelings for William, the author chickens out of conveying the confusion and insecurity and overwhelming emotion that dwarfs all doubt by switching to the perspective of William's father, who knows nothing about Louisa's inner conflict. And for no apparent benefit at all!

Major Spoiler starts here.
And the author does it yet again, when William decides to leave one week from then, and instead of spending that week with him, Louisa is written to be pouting and crying in her room for days without any insight given into her feelings or William's, and thereby the author misses out on the chance of writing something really beautiful, I think.

I was relieved to see that the author was brave enough to write that ending, though. I had feared she wouldn't.

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ElJay
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You should know that the disabled community widely considers that ending offensive, not brave.

Criticism roundup.

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theamazeeaz
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So I haven't seen the movie, but I've read the book and the sequel. Many of the critics in the link haven't either, and are criticizing the message they think was made and a deep fear (disabled people should kill themselves), which was not the message of the book at all. (http://cdrnys.org/blog/advocacy/hollywood-lies-i-prefer-my-disabled-girlfriend-alive/) is a good example.

The book makes it abundantly clear that the characters in the book prefer William alive too, his parents are actively preventing him from committing suicide (however, they can't stop assisted suicide, so have made agreements with him to wait several months to insure it's a decision not hastily made) and Louisa does her best to both improve his quality of life and change his mind. It's repeatedly hammered home that a lot of Louisa's efforts are condescending, patronizing and infantilizing someone whose mind is perfectly intact . Every character has to deal with massive social fallout for supporting William in doing what he wants. The sequel shows a grieving family with no one better off, including Louisa.

We discussed the book in a book club, and the discussion focused on whether someone had a right to kill themselves at all.

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PanaceaSanans
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ElJay, I am aware of that, but thank you. And I agree with them in saying that it is NOT a good book, because it does not explain William's feelings and motives well, and the storyline is shallow and may well be misunderstood.

But as theamazeeaz mentioned, this story is not at all propagating that disabled people should end their life. Quite the opposite, really: It is about whether we have the right to deprive a disabled person - or any person, for that matter - of their right of decision. And disabled people are a good point for discussion because their non-disabled caretakers can effectively force them to live by rules imposed on them, because they are impeded in the execution of their choices.

It is about whether a person who is in a lot of pain and decides they cannot bear it anymore should be assisted by those who love them. I personally think it is one of the most sacrificial things you can do for somebody you really love...

Actually, "Lords of the Sky"-author Angus Wells does a much better job of conveying the emotions surrounding such a decision. Anybody know that one?

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Bob_Scopatz
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The other concern is that the people surrounding the disabled person may influence them toward choosing suicide, even going so far as to force the decision.
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PanaceaSanans
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@Bob: Of course that is a concern. But forcing suicide is murder? Isn't it? (Are there lawyers at Hatrack?) And the concern is by no means exclusive to disabled people. It touches the old and the sick with equal gravity. And I know that exact argument is made to prohibit suicide by any human being - that by making it legal we risk people being forced toward it. Which I believe is wrong. Not the argument in itself, but the implied inevitability of the consequence: the prohibition. It is decidedly not humane to force so many humans to suffer merely because 'people might be forced'. I have not heard of mass murder by forced suicide in Switzerland et al. and while the concern should be taken into account, I believe we don't deal with it in the best possible way.
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kmbboots
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It doesn't take a lot of pressure to influence someone old or ill that they are a burden on their family. Certainly not enough pressure to prove any kind of criminal case.
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PanaceaSanans
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
It doesn't take a lot of pressure to influence someone old or ill that they are a burden on their family.

That is certainly true.

quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Certainly not enough pressure to prove any kind of criminal case.

I assume you are knowledgeable about law? So thank you for the assessment. [Smile]
What if it were proven that the family had continuously and repeatedly told a (by age or otherwise) disabled person they wanted him/her to kill him-/herself before it happened? Could there be conviction for that?

As for the topic I hope to discuss here - of whether there should be a right to decide to cease living - I will quote:

quote:
BURR:
The constitutionís a mess
HAMILTON:
So it needs amendments
BURR:
Itís full of contradictions
HAMILTON:
So is independence
We have to start somewhere.

I'm not going to pretend the problems you cited don't exist. They do. But I still think generalized prohibition a weak solution.
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Synesthesia
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Ugh. Disabled lives don't count to people. People can kill their autistic children and get sympathy. Just look at the comments.

The premise of this book and movie is ridiculous. This guy is wealthy. He has brunette Daenyris and STILL he wants to die? It's not easy to be disabled, I know this, but STILL, abled people, can you NOT?

There's disabled people right now trying to get equipment to keep living a quality life. I'd like to see a story where a disabled guy like this decides, ok, this isn't going to be easy, but I have a ton of resources. I could afford a state of the art wheelchair AND make sure other disabled people can get such a thing.

Most importantly, brunette Daenyris can sit on my face. Screw anyone who thinks it's better to be dead than disabled. That's the ONLY message disabled people keep getting in the mainstream and don't even get me started on several OSC books with that kind of message. I wanted to pull Carpenter out of Folk of the Fringe and tell him that he is not a worm and he is in fact awesome and if anyone thinks that of him, they will have me to answer to. [Mad]

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Scott R
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quote:
That's the ONLY message disabled people keep getting in the mainstream and don't even get me started on several OSC books with that kind of message. I wanted to pull Carpenter out of Folk of the Fringe and tell him that he is not a worm and he is in fact awesome and if anyone thinks that of him, they will have me to answer to.
You think the message of 'The Fringe' is that it's better to be dead than disabled?

HINT: It isn't. Carpenter might loathe his condition but he CLEARLY thinks survival is something worth fighting for.

[ September 20, 2016, 11:57 AM: Message edited by: Scott R ]

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Synesthesia
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No, but it's really ableist. Why should he think of himself as a worm when he's awesome? Dude came up with a life saving agricultural concept helping people all over the country. OSC's portrayals of disabled folks tend to be very, very negative as hell.
Portrayals of disabled people in a lot of stories tend to frustrate me. I think I'll have to write some. I'm working on it. It's taking a while though.

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Scott R
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quote:
it's really ableist.
I don't see it. I'd love to hear your reasoning.

quote:
Why should he think of himself as a worm when he's awesome?
Maybe you're unaware: sometimes people are delusional.

Carter is courageous, intelligent, strong-minded, discerning, and...well, "caring" is probably the wrong word, but "civic minded" doesn't begin to cover the devotion he shows to improving the community.

His self-loathing does the opposite for the reader than what it appears to do for him: it makes us love him more. Here's this guy who doesn't even know how great he is-- immediate empathy. Empathy, here, is the opposite of pity. Without his own, internal recognition of his weaknesses in spite of all his strengths, his intelligence and commitment to justice would come off as mere arrogance.

And if you're missing the Christ references, Syn, please read more closely. He all but says, "Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do."

Carpenter's portrayal IS NOT negative.

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hawser
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Some are different in the movie than in the book. I like reading than watching a movie from a book. I anticipate some scenes and they're not included. So disappointing!
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FlyingCow
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quote:
Originally posted by Scott R:
quote:
it's really ableist.
I don't see it. I'd love to hear your reasoning.

quote:
Why should he think of himself as a worm when he's awesome?
Maybe you're unaware: sometimes people are delusional.

Carter is courageous, intelligent, strong-minded, discerning, and...well, "caring" is probably the wrong word, but "civic minded" doesn't begin to cover the devotion he shows to improving the community.

His self-loathing does the opposite for the reader than what it appears to do for him: it makes us love him more. Here's this guy who doesn't even know how great he is-- immediate empathy. Empathy, here, is the opposite of pity. Without his own, internal recognition of his weaknesses in spite of all his strengths, his intelligence and commitment to justice would come off as mere arrogance.

And if you're missing the Christ references, Syn, please read more closely. He all but says, "Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do."

Carpenter's portrayal IS NOT negative.

I think what you're going for here is that Carpenter's portrayal is not MEANT TO BE negative. That doesn't mean it won't be perceived that way.

Just as the discussion above about the ending of the book/film... the intent of the author may not match the way it's perceived.

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Synesthesia
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This is nine times out of nine the way disabled people are ALWAYS portrayed in mainstream things. It's as if non disabled people can't imagine disabled people wanting to live even though they are disabled. Finding happiness even in the struggle of it all. Not seeing ourselves as worms, or our brains as defective.
Read this book and how she talked about herself https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/476491.Too_Late_to_Die_Young?from_search=true She was actually disabled, with a neuromuscular disease. She didn't see herself as a worm, or as less than. She didn't hate themselves. Non disabled people don't get that these sort of portrayals like in MOST of OSC's books (Just look at Miro and how he is portrayed. How he loathes himself. He lives 3000 years in the future. There's no reason for there not to be technology to help him, or how Valentine is surprised that someone loved the fellow without eyes? These are microaggressions disabled people get all the time) teach us our lives are less and we should hate ourselves.
Well, I am autistic. My brain doesn't work the same as most people, my left hand doesn't work the same as a lot of people's and I absolutely REFUSE to hate myself over it. I don't expect non disabled people to see this as well. Like the attitudes of the MDA telethon. These messages add up. The attitudes about disability need to change.

Though I am working on some stuff. I got a story with autistic elves with wings and a character with cerebral palsy who is an winged elf who uses his disability to make medicine to help him and others. It's not easy to be disabled, but we shouldn't be portrayed only as self hating, bitter, or suicidal. Especially when the reality is living in a world that actually would rather you be dead than accommodate you.

I'm not exaggerating this. I was arguing with people about how NO you should not be able to kill your disabled child and my comments were removed but the I won't judge comments were kept.

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Anna
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Synesthesia, I'm not disabled and for what it's worth, I sympathise with what you have written.
I'd like to read your story.

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