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"Three steps to you": This is why real cystic fibrosis patients criticize the film
Spoiler Warning: We are writing about the plot of "Three Steps to You".
Stella Grant (Haley Lu Richardson) and Will Newman (Cole Sprouse) are in love, but are not allowed to kiss - because that could kill them. At first glance, this problem may sound like the construction of scriptwriters, but it also exists outside of the film plot of “Drei Steps zu dir” (“Five Feet Apart” in the original). Stella and Will suffer from the rare metabolic disease cystic fibrosis that actually exists.
The disease progresses differently from patient to patient. They have in common an infected lung that makes breathing difficult, a short life expectancy, extensive, permanent treatment - and the big problem that you have to keep your distance from people who spread germs, especially other people with cystic fibrosis.
We got this information from the organization's website Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. "Cystic fibrosis" is the term used in English for cystic fibrosis. The creators of “Three Steps to You” also found out about the disease in preparation for the film. But the romance story about two terminally ill teenagers has been criticized by some cystic fibrosis patients on the Internet.
21 year old Elsie calls on her blog 65pinkroses to boycott “Three Steps to You”. Your criticism is directed against the director Justin Baldoni. He said in an interview that Cole Sprouse, known from "Riverdale", was also suitable for the role of Will, who suffered from cystic fibrosis, because as a child actor who was permanently surrounded by older people on the set, he was forced to grow up faster - similar to Cystic fibrosis patients who have to spend a lot of time in the hospital, just with doctors, nurses and nurses.
For Elsie this comparison is "ignorant and offensive“. She writes it to her blog post: "We grow up fast because we are sick and we are dying. We grow up quickly because we have no choice but to live our short lives faster than others. Most of us live to be half the age of healthy people, and many of us will die much sooner.“
Instrumentalization of the sick?
Elsie also feels instrumentalized by the story of the film. Your illness becomes a plot point in "Three Steps to You", because of which healthy people should feel better. The reason for this criticism is again a statement by the director Justin Baldoni - who hopes that the audience will appreciate their lives better after the film. Elsie says:
„Fatally ill people are not only alive because healthy people will 'appreciate their lives more'. I am very happy when my problems inspire those around me to make healthier choices in life. I also notice that my healthy friends and family members have learned to appreciate their healthy, capable bodies more in all the time they have helped me through my pain.
But that's different than taking our entire existence as a plot point for healthy people. 'Three Steps to You' tries to use our lives, stories and humanity only as a template for a 'tragic' plot for healthy people to cry, and I refuse to accept this hypocrisy.“
Elsie is also one of those who launched a “Three Steps to You” advertising campaign Instagram criticize, in which influencers wrote about important people in their lives from whom they lived spatially separated - and because of that experience claimed they could understand Stella and Will. Elsie: "A terminal illness, a disability, is not an experience that can be put on a par with others. To say that being terminally ill is the same as not being able to hug your mother every day is just disability discrimination.“All posts are said to have been deleted by now.
Elsie's criticism concerns the advertising campaign for "Three Steps to You" as well as the remarks made by director Justin Baldoni. Kayla Ariana, on the other hand, describes herself with "Cosplayer, author, cystic fibrosis“Goes in a post on her tumblr-Blog on the story of “Three Steps to You” (it relates to the book version). "The whole book is romanticized as well for young teenagers is getting the wrong attention to the cystic fibrosis community.“
What seems to bother Kayla Ariana the most is the allegedly simplified representation of the disease. Stella's friend Poe (Moises Arias), who is also ill and who lives with her in the hospital, dies suddenly of a collapsed lung in the film and in the book. Kayla Ariana: "When I did, I was sick for a week. I didn't think much of it. Until one day I coughed more than usual and couldn't swallow anything, I gasped for air from the cough. When I got to the emergency room, I coughed up blood and only then found out that my lungs had collapsed.“
My life is more than cystic fibrosis
Cystic fibrosis patient Jenn Whinnem wrote for medium.com about "Three Steps to You". At the time of her article she had only been able to see the trailer because the film had not yet been released - but anyone who has seen the trailer knows the premise of the film and this is what Whinnem is all about. She writes: „My fatal illness and my pain are not a fucking plot for your fantasies.“
Whinnem emphasizes that although many patients are predicted to have a low life expectancy, they have beaten their prognosis and also had a love life: "I have cystic fibrosis and still dated a boy who had cystic fibrosis. [...] Imagine: I'm 39. When you have this disease, you say your age with pride, even if your youth-fixated culture has long since given up on you.“
Whinnem goes on to describe how she met a classmate named Dave in high school, who she went to prom and then smooched. "And then we lost contact, because apart from our hospital stays we had nothing in common.“
In the further text it becomes clear that Jenn Whinnem does not want to trivialize the disease. But she doesn't want to let her dictate her life either - and doesn't like the idea that “Three Steps to You” determines how people think about cystic fibrosis.Every medical history is different. As a 39-year-old with cystic fibrosis, I was exceptionally lucky. I am healthy and my lungs are working. And I refuse the story about cystic fibrosis that is told in “Three Steps to You”.“
Others defend the film
The criticism from Elsie, Kayla Ariana and Jenn Whinnem can be summarized as follows: "Three Steps to You" gives a one-sided, simplified picture of the disease, which is aimed at the dramatic effects. Other cystic fibrosis patients, however, defend the film. "You have done so much to ensure that the disease is accurately portrayed“Morgan told Grindstaff healthline. Grindstaff had low expectations because, in his opinion, cystic fibrosis has always been misrepresented in the TV series he has seen in terms of medication and hospital equipment.
Claire Wineland, who died in 2018 at the age of 21, whose organization the Claire's Place Foundation supports terminally ill people and their families, was a consultant in the production of “Three Steps to You”. Her mother Melissa Nordquist Yeager likes that the emotions of Stella and Will and the fear of their parents come across so well in the film.
And Shelby Luebbert, the one with healthline speaking from the hospital, said: "Viewers will see how cystic fibrosis can progress, even if everyone with the disease is different. Anything that brings attention to cystic fibrosis is good.“
"Three steps to you": the end explained
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