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A Hollywood film about disability has a lot of people feeling left out.

Some spoilers for the book/film 'Me Before You' ahead.

The trailer for the upcoming romance film "Me Before You" promises everything you expect from a good love story.

"Me Before You" stars Emilia Clarke ("Game of Thrones") and Sam Claflin ("The Hunger Games") and is an adaptation of the 2012 book of the same name. The trailer promises an epic love story between Will, a quadriplegic man (played by the able-bodied Claflin) and his caretaker Louisa (Clarke).

It has everything you expect from the genre — conventionally attractive people, hair that somehow doesn't look horrible in the rain, lots of crying, remarkably well-lit bedrooms, and so many feelings and grandiose declarations of love.



What the trailer dances around, however, is that much of the driving force of the film is Will's belief that he'd be better off dead than alive and paralyzed. His parents, desperate to save him, hire Louisa as a caretaker. Will agrees to wait six months before seeking an assisted suicide, and Louisa spends that time trying to encourage him to keep on living.

In the end (spoiler alert), Will chooses death over life as a quadriplegic, and Louisa is able to better appreciate and live her own life as a result of having known him.

According to many in the disabled community, the film pushes some harmful messages about people with disabilities and the kinds of lives they lead.

Disability rights blogger Kim Sauder addresses some of the issues at The Huffington Post, writing, "It’s a film about disability and assisted suicide which is troubling enough, but is made worse by the fact that it uses a non-disabled actor in the role of a quadriplegic."

It certainly doesn't help that Will's character was not born quadriplegic. His character was paralyzed as the result of a car accident and decides that life with a disability is not a life worth living. If Will were a real, living person, this is certainly Will's decision to make. But Will is not a real person. Will is a character whose story and decisions are controlled by a screenwriter and director, both of whom in this case are able-bodied.

Photos courtesy of Warner Bros.

Quadriplegic people are perfectly capable of leading rich, full lives. According to "Me Before You," however, living a life in paralysis is not a life worth living very long.

"The non-disabled media heavily over-represents disability discourses that fit into ableist stereotypes, which makes it harder for the viewer to differentiate between the feelings of individuals and the experiences and feelings of all disabled people," Sauder writes.

On May 23, Clafin was scheduled to do a live chat to promote the film. Twitter users flooded the hashtag, eager to make their voices heard.

For an hour, fans were going to have a chance to engage Claflin in real time using the hashtag #AskSam. People with disabilities — who were already frustrated with the painfully-ironic #LiveBoldly hashtag the film was promoting — used the opportunity to make themselves heard:




Unfortunately, the #AskSam Twitter chat was brought to an abrupt and early ending 20 minutes before it was slated to begin ... without Claflin answering a single question.

It's not clear whether this was Claflin's call or a decision made by a PR rep or just a terribly unfortunate accident. Whichever way, it reinforced the erasure of actual people with disabilities — which was exactly the problem in the first place.


Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.

Their questions unanswered, a group of activists hijacked the film's #LiveBoldly hashtag, using it to share their own stories.

"To paint a movie with such a tragic outcome as a love story and the choice of assisted suicide as rational … reinforces the stereotype that disabled people have such awful lives that death is preferable," actor/writer Mik Scarlet told Upworthy. "My life turned out to be more amazingly wonderful than any of my non-disabled friends might have dreamed of, let alone a paralyzed wheelchair user. Where is that story?"

As it turns out, there are a lot stories just like it — and plenty of people with disabilities willing to share their stories with anyone open to listening:






Including people who are part of the community whose story is being told can only serve to make the story stronger.

Whether that means making sure they're consulting on the script, on set, or — better yet — getting opportunities to tell their own stories on screen or casting an actual quadriplegic to star in the film, taking steps to make sure the story respects the lived experiences of the people who will be affected by the way characters like them are represented is a good thing.

"The media needs to find a way to talk about disability in a way that does not make disabled people look like they are burdens," said activist and filmmaker Dominick Evans. "My disability requires a similar level of care to the protagonist in this film, so it's hard to see a movie where my life, essentially, is devalued on-screen."

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.

Nobody's perfect, and Hollywood will certainly make similar mistakes and tell similar stories again. Hopefully, the backlash to "Me Before You" will inspire other authors and filmmakers to take a different approach when telling the stories of people with disabilities in the future.

Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

True

Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

via Dion Merrick / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.09.21


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Nurse turns inappropriate things men say in the delivery room into ‘inspirational’ art

"Can you move to the birthing ball so I can sleep in the bed?"

Holly the delivery nurse.

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Some of the comments are so wrong that she did something creative with them by turning them into “inspirational” quotes and setting them to “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton on TikTok.

“Some partners are hard to live up to!” she jokingly captioned the video.

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