Disability rights advocates protest 'Me Before You' film at Cinemark Towson

Local disability rights organizations are taking to Cinemark Towson theater Friday night in opposition of a new film they believe misrepresents the lives of people living with differing abilities.

“Me Before You,” a film starring “Game of Thrones” star Emilia Clarke and “The Hunger Games” actor Sam Claflin is based on a 2012 bestselling novel by Jojo Moyes. The story follows a young woman who falls in love after taking on a job as the caregiver of a wealthy man bound to a wheelchair after an accident.

Advocates have expressed outrage leading up to the film’s release in theaters, saying it perpetuates myths about what it’s like to live with a disability. Opponents want moviegoers to understand that a disability isn’t a death sentence, and individuals are able to lead active lives.

Virginia Knowlton Marcus, executive director of the Maryland Disability Law Center told ABC2 she hopes to use the protests as an opportunity to educate the public and "build some awareness about how offensive this film is, and to also send Hollywood the message that it’s not ok to capitalize on people’s disabilities."

Marcus said no one from the disability community was consulted during the making of the film, and the main character is played by an able-bodied actor.

"We're tired of filmmakers making money by trotting out these same old inaccurate, tired, damaging, offensive and stereotypical characters," she said.   

Protesters around the world are echoing this sentiment using the hashtag #MeBeforeAbleism on social media, further pushing the message that a happy life—and a happy ending—are possible for disabled individuals.

The Towson protest is planned for Friday, June 3 at 6 p.m. Organizations including The Arc Maryland and the Maryland Disability Law Center are behind the movement.

Follow Andrea Boston on Twitter @AndreaFromABC2

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