Euthanasia among quadriplegics: a containment of autonomy in disability cinema
Cheang, Wai Yee
Date of Issue2017
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
In the 2016 film Me Before You, the quadriplegic character advises his able-bodied love interest to “[l]ive boldly […] Just live well. Just live” (Me Before You). Conversely, he chooses to prematurely end his life via euthanasia. Why then is the disabled body made to seem less worthy of living as compared to the able-bodied individual? Me Before You is the latest incarnation in a train of disability films whereby a quadriplegic character opts for euthanasia, and subsequently prevails in his or her decision. In an attempt to gain an understanding of this phenomenon in films about disabilities, I observe in three films that follow this narrative trajectory – Whose Life is it, Anyway? (1981), Million Dollar Baby (2004), and Me Before You – an underlying objective for euthanasia: the reclamation of autonomy for the disabled individual. Mmy essay attempts to put forth that the notion that euthanasia as an assertion of true autonomy is in fact used as a veil in order to perpetuate predominant assumptions that a disabled life has no place within mainstream cultural ideology.
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University