did someone muck with the backend here

Re: Guest Post - 'Me Before You'

1

I read that book for a book club. It had a few good points about it: (err, spoilers) it's very clear that the disabled character has agency, he very much chooses to die himself in a calm and rational way, and I thought the way it described going to a Swiss clinic to do it was respectful. But otherwise, awful: protagonist is an MPDG--explained away by "oh yeah she was raped" half way through, which felt gross and poorly handled--the entire conceit of basically betting someone that you can make their life worth living is concerning, that you'd get The Help to do it is doubly weird, and there's all sorts of class issues and My Fair Ladying going on.

Some of that could've been okay in the hands of a good writer--that the characters can do unpleasant things doesn't meant that the book has to support them--but she really didn't write well, and her attempts to make characters besides the main couple sympathetic largely fell flat.

Apparently there's a sequel, which I find concerning because that makes the first book even more into "how the suicidal cripple taught me character development."


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 7:38 AM
horizontal rule
2

// a book review of a spectacularly awful book which is poised to be the next spectacularly awful movie.

Queue the Ghostbusters 2 thread ?


Posted by: Who you gonna call ? | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 7:40 AM
horizontal rule
3

I stopped reading when it started criticising the film for not casting a quadriplegic actor in the role of the quadriplegic guy. I see the author is terribly proud of herself for inventing the terms "cripping up" and "cripface".


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 8:05 AM
horizontal rule
4

Haven't read the book, but it doesn't sound very good. Handsome disabled prince wants a chaste love affair and then dies leaving the manic pixie all the money to chase her dreams? Really? I guess it's a bit better than the manic pixie fixing the mopey guy's life before tragically dying.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 8:05 AM
horizontal rule
5

3: I don't know if she coined them, but they are not uncommon terms. This is something that really gets many disabled rights activists' goats, understandably.

4: He doesn't want any of it, at first--the situation is forced on him (well, and on her, as she isn't informed what the real reason she's being hired is) and it takes half the book before they warm up to each other. And it isn't chaste.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 8:11 AM
horizontal rule
6

It sounds exactly like one of those "dying person teaches us about living!" stories which are almost universally trash* and morally awful to boot. Except in this case even more doomed! nobility! is attached to the characters, and the motivations are even more ridiculous. At least when it's with terminal illnesses the reason that the whole thing is doomed isn't based on the standard example used to explain hedonic adaptation.


*And when they're worth anything they're usually not made up stories but reflections on actual events that the author was involved in.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 8:15 AM
horizontal rule
7

It does sound like a pretty abysmal film.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 8:24 AM
horizontal rule
8

3: There are inevitable problems inherent in conveying the life experience of people who aren't like you. If you do it badly - as has pretty clearly been done here - it's appropriate for people to include a lack of authenticity on the list of things you've screwed up.

It's a difficult and complicated question how artists should view authenticity - a question that sometimes has considerable ramifications beyond the art itself. But when the art sucks, the questions become much simpler, and it's unambiguously reasonable to notice that one of the reasons it sucks is that it fails to take into account people's authentic experience.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 8:31 AM
horizontal rule
9

I agree that practically nobody hires paraplegic actors, but I don't get why the suggestion is farcical.


Posted by: Heebie | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 8:34 AM
horizontal rule
10

not casting a quadriplegic actor in the role of the quadriplegic guy

Right, what a stupid idea, that a disabled person could be an actor.

Here I go, exiting the comment thread before it even got going! Maybe I'll check back in later after I've had lots of naps and whiskey.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 8:36 AM
horizontal rule
11

8: This. Add on top of that that disabled actors are people that exist. Non-disabled roles are generally off-limits to them, so choosing a well-known pretty face over an actually disabled person adds insult to injury. It's practically a deliberate campaign to side-line and denormalize the disabled experience. Compare with cis actors in trans roles.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 8:36 AM
horizontal rule
12

True story. When I saw Forrest Gump, I assumed that Captain Dan was played by a guy who had lost his legs. I figured it would be much easier to do it that way than CGI in the fake, artificial legs.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 8:40 AM
horizontal rule
13

I said "true" not "interesting".


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 8:44 AM
horizontal rule
14

I assumed that Captain Dan was played by a guy who had lost his legs.

Whereas I was surprised to learn that, in Battleship the character who's learning to use prosthetics and doing PT is played by an actor who had lost both legs.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 9:00 AM
horizontal rule
15

Apparently Gary Sinese was famous before CSI. I had no idea.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 9:02 AM
horizontal rule
16

3. I entirely endorse 10 and 11. FYI "cripping up" and "cripface" are coined in deliberate imitation of "blacking up" and "blackface" because it is exactly analogous and exactly as offensive. Aren't there enough roles for pretty white people?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 9:07 AM
horizontal rule
17

"cripping up"

I'd heard this before, but as gang terminology.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 9:10 AM
horizontal rule
18

Doesn't the criticism presuppose a quadriplegic actor who'd take the part? I suppose actors can't be too choosy, but the real criticism here is that the story as described is so offensive that it should not have been written, and the film shouldn't have been made at all. That some starving actor should have been induced to pretend that his life is meaningless -- that sounds like insult to injury.

Although for enough money, many folks are willing to submit themselves to plenty of insult.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 9:15 AM
horizontal rule
19

Aren't there enough roles for pretty white people

NO.


Posted by: OPINIONATED UNEMPLOYED PRETTY WHITE ACTOR | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 9:28 AM
horizontal rule
20

Has "I stopped reading when..." become enough of a cliché to render as ISRW or IQRW? It's at least as tedious as all the other outrage-clickbait clichés.

Doesn't the criticism presuppose a quadriplegic actor who'd take the part?

The text is: "Now I'm sure this casting decision was made because, after an exhaustive casting search, the producers could find no self-respecting quadriplegic actor willing to be associated with this bullshit and nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that they definitely didn't even look at quadriplegic actors *sarcasm*." So awkwardly tries to split the difference, and may not have fully implemented "sarcasm".

I'm so disturbed by the respectability of this sort of softcore snuff porn. Fantods.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 9:29 AM
horizontal rule
21

Has "I stopped reading when..." become enough of a cliché to render as ISRW or IQRW? It's at least as tedious as all the other outrage-clickbait clichés.

ISRW I got to the third occurrence of "problematic" (but I only stopped to post this comment, and then I'll return to the article).

This movie/book is like the gender-reversed version of that flick with Anne Hathaway from a few years back, maybe?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 9:42 AM
horizontal rule
22

Now that I've read the thread the answer to 21.last would appear to be "no, it's worse than that".


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 9:44 AM
horizontal rule
23

BUT—and I know you're all super curious about this, which is why I'm keeping you posted—I did stop reading the article for good because I figured I'd gotten the idea and it's poorly written.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 9:48 AM
horizontal rule
24

ISRW I got terminally distracted by the "10 things to know about jackfruit" sidebar.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 9:52 AM
horizontal rule
25

Nu, what things are there to know about jackfruit?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 9:53 AM
horizontal rule
26

I'm afraid it will remain a mystery to me, but an oddly entrancing one.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 9:55 AM
horizontal rule
27

They should make more movies like this because they help me to stop feeling guilty about never going to the pictures.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 9:57 AM
horizontal rule
28

27: I haven't heard them referred to as "the pictures" in a while.

21: I like the "3 uses of problematic and done" rule. maybe I'll adopt it myself.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 10:13 AM
horizontal rule
29

There are inevitable problems inherent in conveying the life experience of people who aren't like you.

No one is like me. (This becomes an issue in non-fiction too.)


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 11:23 AM
horizontal rule
30

Here's to md; who's like md? Damn few, and they're dead.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 11:28 AM
horizontal rule
31

Here's another article about the cripface aspect of the whole thing (different movies, different disabilities).

I find the Hollywood/casting issue irritating but not devastating. The insistance throughout the Lamestream and Most Other Media that death is often or usually preferable to disability is a really painful and damaging thing to confront over and over again.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 11:37 AM
horizontal rule
32

31.last: So--with the caveat that I have a non-disabled person's implicit biases--that was the one thing I thought the book was okay about (although my memory is apparently a little different from the writer of the piece). All the other characters are trying to teach the disabled protagonist the value of his life, and while he appreciates what they're doing--well, eventually--he makes clear, after a long and considered cooling off period, that this is not for him and he wants to commit suicide in a dignified way. Even if it's greedy or thoughtless to others or whatever--which, honestly, is how I read his suicide, not as "selfless" as I've seen it presented it in recent media (perhaps the movie is different). I'm on the "all people should be allowed to commit suicide if they so choose" side of the spectrum so I thought that was a heartening message. The book takes that into (what I read as) a pro-assisted-suicide message, since that's a choice that people of ability have but the mobility/agility-restricted do not.

Admittedly, the reasons for him doing so could've been better. I can't quite remember if he ever gives any reasons better than "this is not what I expected for my life"--that he had grown so used to being a high-flying, adventure-sports loving, frequently traveling (dickhead) investment banker that he could not get used to a life that involved less of that and more assistance to do physical things. But if people's decisions about themselves are to be respected, that also needs to include asinine decisions, if they've made clear they were made with (their own kind of) care. I thought the message was clear that it was only this character's perspective that he prefers death for him and not that that applied to anyone else, only that his decision should be respected.

A funny thing was this was the first book I've read where a character learns something by doing a lot of Googling; the female protagonist ends up going to some disability and disability-assistance forums where she encounters a variety of views. (This did feel a bit like "a very special episode" didacticism--the book is feels written for an abled audience--but it was still appreciated.) Most of those were of people who'd learn to adapt after a disability developed in adulthood, although there were a few that were more pessimistic.

(If it's not clear, I have mixed feelings about this book--it presented a lot of scenarios that I wanted to think more about, especially with my mom recently suffering a severe disability, but I think some but not all of its messages were awful and it was not well written.)


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 12:00 PM
horizontal rule
33

I'm on the "all people should be allowed to commit suicide if they so choose" side of the spectrum

Great, then let's have some movies and books where characters who aren't disabled decide to kill themselves and everyone learns heartwarming lessons from them, instead.

(I'm serious. When the only value of "all people" ever seen in this role is "disabled people", that's not actually all people being allowed to commit suicide. That's disabled people being allowed to commit suicide. If you want to normalize it, normalize it with people who aren't at great risk of "mercy" killings in real life.)

(I'm also super cranky, mainly about issues stemming from disability/illness, so my emotional state is a little brittle and I doubt I'll handle myself very well in this thread for more than 5 minutes at a time.)


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 12:06 PM
horizontal rule
34

Great, then let's have some movies and books where characters who aren't disabled decide to kill themselves

How about plays?


Posted by: Opinionated William Shakespear | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 12:08 PM
horizontal rule
35

33: I would be really happy with that. I get your point that representation matters and I agree.

And sorry--I don't want to cause any additional stress.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 12:12 PM
horizontal rule
36

There'd still need to be some reason the characters have for committing suicide (good or bad), if only because 'wanting to die for no reason' is the kind of thing that tends to count as demonstrating the existence of certain kinds of disability in the first place. If terminal illnesses don't count as disabilities there are movies that meet that criteria.

And when it comes to "this character committing suicide makes them a noble moral exemplar" there are movies that meet that description. (Heck, in that one there's a stirring moment where a character is allowed to commit suicide, which is a great honor to him and it's the culminating moment at the end of the movie.) And there are, what, at least three movies just based on that story alone, and plenty more where that kind of suicide is portrayed as a good/noble thing.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 12:17 PM
horizontal rule
37

Is Cato's suicide heartwarming? Probably not precisely heartwarming.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 12:19 PM
horizontal rule
38

This reminded me of a play (made into a movie starring Richard Dreyfuss) I saw as a teenager Whose Life Is It, Anyway? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whose_Life_Is_It_Anyway%3F_(play)

Anybody else see this play or movie?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 12:24 PM
horizontal rule
39

Don't forget the heroic Alexei Nilych Kirillov in Dostoyevsky's Demons


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 12:26 PM
horizontal rule
40

There's a heroic suicide in a Graham Greene novel, but I can't say which, because that would be a spoiler.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 12:29 PM
horizontal rule
41

I don't think this suicide was either noble or heart-warming. It's just what he wanted.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 12:32 PM
horizontal rule
42

Googling "hearwarming suicide" has proven to be surprisingly unhelpful with respect to addressing 33.2.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 12:33 PM
horizontal rule
43

Even when "heartwarming" is spelled correctly.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 12:33 PM
horizontal rule
44

Just to be clear my use of "heroic" in 39 and 40 was ironic.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 12:34 PM
horizontal rule
45

Try heartworming instead. I bet that's an exciting story.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 12:35 PM
horizontal rule
46

45: I was worried that I might get some depressing story about someone committing suicide after their pet died, but instead I just get a bunch of public service announcements.

"Heartworm: the Silent Killer" sounds like a promising title for a horror movie.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 12:51 PM
horizontal rule
47

36: There'd still need to be some reason the characters have for committing suicide (good or bad), if only because 'wanting to die for no reason' is the kind of thing that tends to count as demonstrating the existence of certain kinds of disability in the first place. If terminal illnesses don't count as disabilities there are movies that meet that criteria.

This paragraph makes me think you don't understand the objection at all. The entire reason the disability community is upset about this is that we/they do not think that "being disabled" is an acceptable reason to kill yourself. How about the reason is, they are poor? Or black? Or transgender? Or are lonely and hate their job? Or love dogs but are allergic to them?

And, for the second half, EXACTLY. If someone without a disability wants to kill herself for no reason, doctors rush to diagnose a disability and prevent the suicide. If someone with a disability wants to kill herself for no reason, everyone sighs and nods their head and tries to be understanding. Having a disability does not make life worth less, or less worth living.

The line between "permanent disabling condition" and "terminal illness" is fuzzy enough, and badly enough understood by doctors, that I am personally unwilling to grant an exception.

I'm going to go cut more circles out of fabric now.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 12:57 PM
horizontal rule
48

Disability is far too heterogeneous a category to say that it never makes a life less worth living. Plenty of them are literally defined in terms of the kind and severity of the suffering they cause. Trying to lump cluster headaches and having lost a leg into one category isn't going to leave you with something you can make general claims like that about.

You asked for examples of non-disabled people committing suicide in fiction in a way that is uplifting/morally instructive/whatever.

What I pointed out was that there are far, far too many movies/books/whatever with people nobly sacrificing themselves in suicide attacks, dying by staying behind to protect other fleeing people, killing themselves out of regret or sorrow at something awful that they did, and so on for it to even be reasonable to start listing ones like that. So motivation would have to come into play to exclude at least some of those cases, unless you're ok with an answer like "about a third of all fiction that contains someone dying in it".


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 1:12 PM
horizontal rule
49

I am conflicted. I have not read the book since (1) life is short and (2) the author is the wife of a friend of mine and I admire her determination to achieve commercial success in the face of considerable difficulties.

The one book of hers I did skim was much better than I expected it to be and showed real skill at the handling of dialogue but not at all my kind of subject. The blank accusations that this one is "badly written" are not therefore informative.

fwiw she has some personal experience of disability in the family, though nothing that would put you in a wheelchair.


Posted by: Obvious McPseudface | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 1:17 PM
horizontal rule
50

48: I think most audiences place "noble self sacrifice" in a different mental box from suicide.

I'm sure there are movies where someone makes the noble self sacrifice primarily because they want to commit suicide and only secondarily to save whatever it is they're saving by sacrificing themselves. But I can't think of one off the top of my head.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 1:17 PM
horizontal rule
51

I didn't ask for examples of nondisabled people killing themselves. I said I think it is bad for society, and particularly for people with disabilities, every time there is a new example of someone killing themself just because they have a disability, and it being framed as justified by whatever movie/book/article it happens in. People should stop writing those works, and if they need someone to commit suicide for the storyline, use someone without a disability. Find a different motivation. This one is hurting people.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 1:17 PM
horizontal rule
52

I don't understand why (2) is a reason not to read the book unless there's a suppressed premise like "despite my admiration I would never sully my eyes with commercial trash".


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 1:21 PM
horizontal rule
53

50: Tale of Two Cities? I mean, Sidney Carton is being noble and self-sacrificing and all, but he's plausibly also just straightforwardly suicidal. (I assume there's a movie version.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 1:22 PM
horizontal rule
54

53: This is close to what I think is probably the most common instance of suicide in fiction that could be construed as "heartwarming". The third member of a love triangle nobly sacrifices him/her self for [good cause], but the real reason for doing so is to take themselves out of the way so that the remaining 2 lovers can live happily ever after.

ToTC isn't quite that, since Carton wasn't part of a love triangle, although he did have a crush on what's-her-name.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 1:29 PM
horizontal rule
55

50: Part of the problem is that dividing between suicide and other cases where people do something that results in their death is a massive problem when it comes to the actual moral questions about it in Ethics.

There are a bunch of "I need to atone for [whatever] so I'll [thing that results in dying]!" things in movies - like the scientist who created the monster in an absurd number of horror/scifi movies. That may or may not count: they're doing something good but also something where they're doing it out of strong feelings of remorse, not altruism.

And there are the "nobly kills self for [romantic reason]!" things, where someone commits suicide because "..that's how much they loved (whoever)", which is up in the air as far as whether it's treated as good or bad. Usually it's tragic but romantic, which comes pretty close at least as an example of how profound their love was (unless it's presented as "what a buffoon" which can also happen).


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 1:31 PM
horizontal rule
56

49: The book is mostly from the female protagonist's perspective but, especially later on, there are a few chapters written from each of the other characters (except the male lead). These were jarring, feeling like apologies for not being able to humanize these characters (the cheating father, the controlling mother, the chipper nurse who doesn't show his real feelings) solely from the protagonist's perspective.

The rape-as-motivation-for-personality bit made me very uncomfortable. And that's just cheap. And sometimes it was very confusing; the protagonist dresses quirkily, but the author tries to make clear that it's done in a way that's solely for her and reflects her uncomfortableness with sexuality. The author goes into great deal into what she wears (but no one else). Not being familiar with, e.g. specific brands of dresses popular in the 1960s (She's quirky! She wears retro clothes!), I'd do some googling and find myself very confused as how they would reflect uncomfortableness with presenting sexuality.

At times I thought the characters felt real--sometimes the dynamics in the protagonist's working class family worked for me--but other times they didn't and the illusion was easily shattered.

There's probably more, but this was a few months ago and my memory is a bit fuzzy.

I should mention that the book wasn't for me, either--I don't generally read romances, which despite everything else this should probably be considered as. But in a style of book driven by character personalities, I need them to feel less like a jumble of attributes and plot-points, and it just didn't succeed for me.

I agree with you about her determination for commercial success and applaud her gumption.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 1:33 PM
horizontal rule
57

Oh! While it's not clear to me exactly why people are so fond of the movie Harold and Maude is practically the same story, only with age instead of disability and (I guess) sweet hearted wistful romance instead of really offensive bullshit.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 1:35 PM
horizontal rule
58

The end of Thelma and Louise is presented as uplifting rather than depressing, despite the fact that they drive off a cliff.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 1:38 PM
horizontal rule
59

I'm skeptical that there are really so many obvious examples of this with nondisabled protagonists (especially where the suicide is presented in, as I gather it is here, a gauzy soft-focus ALL THE FEELS way), and don't understand why he's so invested in arguing this point.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 1:38 PM
horizontal rule
60

58: Also littering in a national park!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 1:40 PM
horizontal rule
61

I like lots of commercial stuff and binge read John D Macdonald and Lois McMaster Bujold all this winter. I wish I could write it. I really do. But the one thing of JM's I read was a mother/daughter/grandmother saga of a sort which really doesn't appeal to me. I didn't think it was a bad book. It's just not my style of romance. So I haven't tried the other stuff.


Posted by: Obvious McPseudface | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 1:41 PM
horizontal rule
62

What about Senna in which his is presented as not-suicidal, but (at least occasionally) a little too comfortable with the idea of dying in a car wreck?


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 1:42 PM
horizontal rule
63

What about the Passion of the Christ?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 1:44 PM
horizontal rule
64

63: Full disclosure -- I haven't seen the movie, but I read enough reviews that I got the basic story.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 1:45 PM
horizontal rule
65

People should stop writing those works, and if they need someone to commit suicide for the storyline, use someone without a disability. Find a different motivation. This one is hurting people.

I stopped reading the comments at this point bc I agree completely with this point.

Is it that hard to cast a disabled person in a normal role? They can just be a normal character without the disability being relevant to anything. "If we cast a disabled actor, then we need their disability to mean something special." Um, no. Maybe they could just be a shallow jerk or regular person without some special super power.

(Im guessing someone else already wrote the same thing better upthread, but I am REALLY mad at my ex wife so Im just pissy today."


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 1:47 PM
horizontal rule
66

61: Heh, I just finished a months-long binge of Bujold's Vorkosigan saga. She's so good at suspending disbelief. I wish I could write like that, too.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 1:48 PM
horizontal rule
67

38: Sure I have seen the Dreyfuss. There are lots lots more "disability suicides", including a fashionable motive in Alzheimers.

Watched a 69 Alain Resnais "Je' taime" this week, guy committed suicide cause...wait no spoilers. Before that was Water/i> by Deepa Mehta. Shock Treatment by Alain Jessua. Too many spoilers. All this week.

Kabaneri popular anime has people blowing their own hearts out to keep from becoming zombies. Re Zero last week, suicide for a good cause. He comes back to a save point, but it still hurts.

I probably saw twenty suicides this week, ahh who knows.

Ya know, Japan and Korea, metric fucktons of suicides. Cause they're broke and in debt, cause they're rejected, cause they're unpopular, cause why not. More like this I suppose, rather than disability as a uniquely horrible condition and plot device.

The classic Chikamatsu double suicide, adopted merchant's son and indentured prostitute, was always both about horrible conditions and selfishness. This is the general rule, guy is selfish, woman society is to blame

I'll let others judge people and representations of people.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 1:55 PM
horizontal rule
68

Oh, I forgot

Last night in Episode 6 of Hourou Musuko, about two trans gender (transitioning?) middle school kids, and very importantly about their friends, they performed a version of Romeo and Juliet, crossgendered and trans. A born male was playing Juliet, who (Juliet) wanted to be a boy and so on. The guy playing Juliet was cisgender but gay. The girl playing Romeo was cisgender in love with the trans gender lead as a guy but the trans gender girl is in love with the trans man as a girl. I am trying to be correct here.

No it is very far from comedy. All these complications are played for poignancy. You start to think "Well, they love each other as people." but gender identification (?) is too important and painful to get away with that.

Gorgeous infinitely subtle stuff, google reviews.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 2:16 PM
horizontal rule
69

65 - one of the thinks I liked about the X-men movie set in the 70s (Days of future past?) is that they had the bad guy played by Peter Dinklage and then didn't refer to his height once.


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 2:28 PM
horizontal rule
70

57: What I always figured with Harold and Maude is that the suicide is necessary because otherwise the film would have to deal with providing some kind of closure to the romance story - and that would either be scandalous or a buzzkill for the audience. It can be sweetly romantic (if you think it's sweetly romantic; I find it kind of woman-hating) as long as the romance remains transitory and unreal and as long as the less-important character (by coincidence an old woman!) dies and gets out of the way, with her death providing a benefit to the actually important person (by coincidence a young white man from an affluent family).

In this respect it resembles "Me Before You", I guess, where the underlying logic of the plot is "the purpose of the old/disabled is to die and give their money or life purpose to the young and abled, but we would feel bad if we said that up front so we would like them to voluntarily kill themselves". Just from reading the summary of the movie, the crassest part seems to be "and now the Virtuous Young Woman is rich too!!!"


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 2:29 PM
horizontal rule
71

Um, no. Maybe they could just be a shallow jerk or regular person without some special super power.

You've got my vote for that motion. I can think of one such role quickly: Mr. Potter in It's a Wonderful Life.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 2:48 PM
horizontal rule
72

What'd y'all think of the disability portrayals in "Deadpool"?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 2:51 PM
horizontal rule
73

I think the standard resolution would have been to have Maude die from some terminal illness or car accident while she was Living! Life! to it Fullest!, rather than having her commit suicide because she thought that people should do that when they turn 80, like in a really geriatric Logan's Run. I thought it was kind of awful overall, and that most of the characters in it were somewhere between annoying and despicable though.

I kind of love Michael J Fox in The Good Wife because it doesn't pretend like he doesn't have Parkingson's or just sideline it, but his character isn't "the disabled lawyer" either*. It's more of "the creepy snake that Alicia thinks she's better than even though she manifestly is not and he knows it".

*He openly exploits it in court, but it's pretty clear from the character that he'd openly exploit anything about him that was available too so it's not treating it like an advantage.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 3:25 PM
horizontal rule
74

Anyone here read 'a little life'? (Spoilers) thoughts, re: this thread?


Posted by: X.Trapnel | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 3:30 PM
horizontal rule
75

Anyone here read 'a little life'? (Spoilers) thoughts, re: this thread?

I haven't. I was trying to convince nosflow to read it this weekend.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 4:15 PM
horizontal rule
76

I've read about it and it sounds like crap.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 4:24 PM
horizontal rule
77

The line between "permanent disabling condition" and "terminal illness" is fuzzy enough, and badly enough understood by doctors, that I am personally unwilling to grant an exception.

Huh. A friend of mine grew up Christian Scientist and left the church after seeing his wife's grandmother die in agonizing pain. He became very involved in the Death with Dignity Campaign in MA. That ballot initiative required (1.) a terminal diagnosis (2.) an evaluation by 2 doctors that the person was not depressed and (3.) that the person be able to self-administer and swallow the pills. I thought that they were working on developing some pretty decent safeguards.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 05-26-16 7:10 PM
horizontal rule
78

ISRW I got terminally distracted by the "10 things to know about jackfruit" sidebar

"Jackfruit is having a moment."


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 05-27-16 2:14 AM
horizontal rule
79

a really geriatric Logan's Run

This would be SO GOOD. Because the original cast are the right age for it now! (Except Peter Ustinov who is dead.) You could pitch it as a grimdark reboot of "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel".


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05-27-16 2:24 AM
horizontal rule
80

Michael York and Jenny Agutter! RT, call your people and make this happen!


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 05-27-16 3:08 AM
horizontal rule
81

They can just be a normal character without the disability being relevant to anything.

How about a biopic of FDR?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 05-27-16 6:14 AM
horizontal rule
82

Maybe they could just be a shallow jerk or regular person without some special super power.

Professor X is disabled and has a super power, but I feel it's not a special super power because pretty much everyone else also has super powers.

Long John Silver? Captain Hook? Doctor No?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05-27-16 6:28 AM
horizontal rule
83

77 (1.) a terminal diagnosis

This is the problem.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 05-27-16 6:32 AM
horizontal rule
84

Is being a pirate a superpower?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 05-27-16 6:33 AM
horizontal rule
85

Rear Window stars Christopher Reeve post-accident. I'm not sure how relevant the disability is to the plot since I haven't seen it, but it's the only major motion picture I can think of where the actor is actually disabled.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05-27-16 6:36 AM
horizontal rule
86

I've seen the original. Jimmy Stewart is confined to a wheelchair with a broken leg, but still manages (SPOILER ALERT) to fight Perry Mason and have Grace Kelly standing around a bunch.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-27-16 6:40 AM
horizontal rule
87

The otherwise extremely mediocre FX comedy Legit featured the nerdy guy from Road Trip (DJ Qualls) as a wisecracking but totally normal disabled guy in a wheelchair, who for some reason lived with an Australian guy who for some reason FX thought could carry a sitcom.


Posted by: R Tigre | Link to this comment | 05-27-16 6:47 AM
horizontal rule
88

it's the only major motion picture I can think of where the actor is actually disabled.

"Four Weddings and a Funeral" - Hugh Grant's deaf brother was played by a deaf actor. But in both their disability is important to the plot; they don't just happen to be disabled in the way that Mr Potter is. Walter Jr. in "Breaking Bad" has CP and so does the actor who plays him, but I don't remember it ever being relevant to the plot.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05-27-16 6:57 AM
horizontal rule
89

76: I read A Little Life. There's lots to say about it, but to summarize, nosflow saved himself a lot of time.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 05-27-16 7:03 AM
horizontal rule
90

Reading about A Little Life has pretty well convinced me the author doesn't understand much about trauma or child abuse in a way that seems quite similar to disability-as-poignant-metaphor stuff. I don't know that I can force myself to read it to find out for sure. There's a related thing where a young woman with complex PTSD from aevere sexual abuse was approved for assisted suicide in one of the Scandinavian countries recently, or at least the article I read about it was recent.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 05-27-16 7:21 AM
horizontal rule
91

90: I can't speak to that, as I don't understand much about trauma or child abuse either....so I'd be curious about your reaction, but I certainly can't recommend it .


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 05-27-16 7:43 AM
horizontal rule
92

Dunno, peep. I think "raised and tortured by troubled sadistic monks" is something I'd pretty much always avoid because it seems over the top in stupid ways. I'm not opposed to reading about self-injury or child abuse, but nothing has made this one sound worth the time and it kind of grosses me out to see something real like that sexied up to be edgy and meaningful or whatever. Trapnel may disagree, and it sounds like he's actually read it and can say something informed.

I know alameida wrote something a few years ago about the impact Harry Potter's abuse and neglect should have had on him and I was sort of hand-wavy in response about how people process things differently but it's interesting to see as my girls grow up how they evaluate things like that in their personal and narrative lives. Right now we're working on "really, that kid at daycare could legitimately be having a hard time even though you don't think being removed from a mother who still gets visits and going to live with an aunt should be any big deal" and I had somehow thought they'd cut other kids more slack. This definitely happens with characters too.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 05-27-16 7:52 AM
horizontal rule
93

I had somehow thought they'd cut other kids more slack.

Yeah, well, my stepdaughter hates other people with disabilities.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 05-27-16 8:06 AM
horizontal rule
94

over the top in stupid ways

The book is insanely over the top in all kinds of ways, but somebody wrote that this is part of the "gay aesthetic" and it's the great gay novel. I don't buy it obviously.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 05-27-16 8:12 AM
horizontal rule
95

I remember quite enjoying Me Before You - I didn't know anything about it beforehand, was expecting an ordinary bit of fluff, and so was quite surprised when all the trip to Switzerland stuff started.

if they need someone to commit suicide for the storyline, use someone without a disability.

But - it's a book about *assisted* suicide. Someone able to take their own life could just do that, without discussion. Entirely different story.

I thought the linked article was a bit odd at points. Not liking Will's mum's behaviour? Maybe that was actually supposed to be the effect? Getting annoyed with the author because they wrote a character who's a liar seems a bit daft.

As for A Little Life - again, I don't tend to read much about books, so didn't really know what I was getting into. I was completely sucked in whilst reading it, then finished it and looking back thought it was manipulative tosh.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 05-27-16 12:55 PM
horizontal rule
96

I've been thinking about this thread a lot. My grandmother killed herself because of a non-life-ending disorder that left her in intense and constant pain. (I don't actually know what it was, which has always left me perturbed.) This all happened long before I was born and before the right-to-die movement was very established. I do wonder about the line between a life you want to live vs a life you are consigned to living, and how you make these choices, but I'm not sure her story intersects all that much with the narrative of disability in the same way as this one does, but, yeah. Anyway!


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 05-27-16 1:37 PM
horizontal rule
97

I don't actually know what it was, which has always left me perturbed

And also makes me wonder if it was some sort of 'female complaint,' given that I think it was the late 60s/early 70s and I'm not sure they (doctors) would have told my Dad much.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 05-27-16 1:38 PM
horizontal rule
98

The entire reason the disability community is upset about this is that we/they do not think that "being disabled" is an acceptable reason to kill yourself.

Ok, I don't get this at all. There's no one deciding these things, no list of acceptable/unacceptable reasons.

In fact, if I want to kill myself, I can. I don't have to justify my reasons to anyone because I have physical capacity. Will Trainor in the story does have to justify himself and convince other people to take him to Dignitas, and that's crap, someone in his position should have the same options as I do.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 05-27-16 1:55 PM
horizontal rule
99

95.2 - Being able to take one's own life and being able to do it in a dignified/painless/not-really-gory way are very different things, though. (The latter is way more difficult, and most of the methods require some assistance.)

Also 48.1 -> 96.last (I mean, whether or not she fits into a particular narrative she was disabled.)


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 05-27-16 2:00 PM
horizontal rule
100

98: There's no set list or decider, but it's certainly a pattern that emerges in how many people make judgments.

Also don't conflate effective freedom by virtue of physical ability and privacy with legal and moral freedom. Most places you can still be locked up for actively working on killing yourself if it's found out, even if that intervention may not happen most of the time. Suicide is at a minimum disapproved of by default, and whether or not that's right at base, to me it does seem problematic that disability can be something that overrides that default.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05-28-16 5:56 AM
horizontal rule
101

In the UK, the latest numbers from polls during the airing of the recent Bill show that about 80% of people support assisted dying (i.e. when the person already has a terminal illness). The most recent stats I can find on a quick Google for assisted suicide (the person has some sort of permanent incurable condition, but isn't actually dying of it) suggest that about half the British public support it. (https://yougov.co.uk/news/2012/07/05/support-doctor-assisted-suicide/) So that's not default disapproval, although I'm sure that approval is lower for those with 'only' mental reasons, not physical.

Personally, I'm pro choice. For everyone.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 05-28-16 7:18 AM
horizontal rule