Disability rights protestors at the Shattuck Cinemas on Thursday evening. Photo: Melanie Hoffman
Disability rights protesters at the Shattuck Cinemas on Thursday evening. Photo: Ted Friedman

Around 30 disability rights activists demonstrated in front of the Landmark Shattuck Cinemas Thursday night, protesting that the movie Me Before You amounted to a “little more than a disability snuff film,” according to Ken Stein, one of the protesters.

Me Before You, described in a scathing review in The New York Times as a “floppy British romance,” is the story of a wealthy, aristocratic quadriplegic who falls in love with his carer. He is determined to commit suicide since his life isn’t worth living. Will the new-found love change his mind?

Me Before You insults audiences by presuming that they cannot handle the realities of disability,” said Ingrid Tischer, one of the organizers of the Berkeley protest. “The director claims the goal of ‘normalizing’ disability without any awareness that ‘normal’ is a freighted concept to people with disabilities. The only thing Me Before You normalizes is a deadly double standard when it comes to suicide prevention and people with disabilities.”  

Ken Stein and Ingrid Tischer. Photo: Ted Friedman
Ken Stein and Ingrid Tischer, organizers of the protest, kiss, holding a poster with a photograph of their wedding. Photo: Ted Friedman

Tischer said the protesters in Berkeley were part of a larger network, including protests at the film’s opening in London last week. More demonstrations are expected nationally this weekend.

“As a person with a disability, this movie has been a depressing reminder how people don’t get disability rights,” Tischer said. “But in Berkeley, people get it. People seem really eager to engage on the issue here.”

Marketing for the movie promotes the hashtag #LiveBoldly. Tischer and Ken Stein, her husband, held a poster at the protest declaring, “We already do! Better wed than dead.”

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Lance Knobel (Berkeleyside co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine...