Today is finally the premiere of the long awaited ‘Me Before You’. But because of that, cinemas are only featuring it at one time, and sadly I won’t be able to watch it today *mini rant*.
Nevertheless, in this post I want to create a discussion about a main theme in the book and film: Euthanasia. News sites keep pouring with controversial articles about how the film (specifically) discriminates against disabled people and portray their lives in such way that their ‘only’ option is to kill themselves.
Personally, until I read these news articles, I hadn’t really thought about the implications of letting a quadriplegic individual choose euthanasia to end his life, because that is not how the book portrays Will Traynor.
On the side of the anti-euthanasia group, I feel that they are joining the uproar without even understanding the intentions behind the book and film. The book did not glorify euthanasia in any way. This was not a boy-meets-girl, fall in love, but boy still wants to kill himself, story. People who haven’t read the freaking book claim that they know the ‘basic plot’, without even opening a page of the book themselves. That’s what makes me so mad.
‘Me Before You’ (book) is a story about a man who is already depressed about his life when the novel starts. His financial success prior to his accident has made him depressed after he got into the accident and became a quadriplegic. But seeing how stubborn he was, hell – he would have done the same thing if he had gone into any other form of disability. Will’s mindset is very particular: either he serves for a purpose in life or he doesn’t. In the news, we often see about disabled people (either by birth or accident) breaking boundaries after going through a dark period. But in this case, Will never really finds that purpose. He does fall in love with Louisa and becomes a more warm-hearted person, but he knows that love is not a purpose in life. And I kind of liked that part of the story line, because it shows that romantic love is not the solution to everything if the individual doesn’t first love himself.
The thing is, Will decided to end his life in his case. This does not mean that every quadriplegic will want to kill himself because they were born as such, or had an accident that left them disabled. The book never implies that, and if I’m correct, neither does the film. After all, Moyes herself wrote the screenplay of the film.
Going back to the whole ‘Me Before You should be boycotted because it encourages euthanasia’ debate, I highly believe that this is so hypocritical of the public to fervently make such claim. There are countless of books dealing with mental health, disabilities and suicide (or all three) and not all of them have the happily ever after that we are all so used to seeing. And yet, when one of these books happen to be adapted, the public is outraged without even having read the book. Moyes in no way promotes suicide, and it never glorifies euthanasia in the book. Every character in the book was against Will’s decision to go forth with his decision (you would know that if you read the book).
Additionally, I am currently reading ‘After You’, the sequel. Louisa’s life is pretty lousy at the moment, to be honest – relative to her life in the first book. If you read this book, you would see that Will’s death did not make anyone’s life easier or better in any way. If Louisa and the others’ lives become better, it’s because of the strong will that resides in them, because they were able to pull through such torment. Not because of Will.
What is your take on this controversial debate? Please share your views in the comments below!