Film is one of the main consumptions in media. How characters are chosen to be portrayed affects how the audience view and connect with them.
Until very recentley it was hard to notice if a character in a film was diagonsed with mental health or not as it meant knowing and understanding the symptoms of different illnesses.
Mental ill health is irrefutably becoming something we feel more comfortable addressing. It is something that people are more open to discuss in the media. Men especially are being encouraged to speak up and go against any negative stigma surrounding mental health and slowly but surely it seems to be dissolving. It also seems that representations of mental health have become apparent in mainstream media. Sounds all positive right? Not quite, digital media has shown to be as harmful as ever when portraying mental illness via films.
In more recent years films such as Split and a two-part series 13 reasons why have been released. They both base their mentally ill characters on stereotypes and caricatures.
WHY WAS THE FILM SPLIT VIEWED AS DAMAGING?
Split is deemed harmful when broken down. It is a horror film about a man with dissociative identity disorder. He kidnaps in total 4 women and it is portrayed he has the capability to be violent towards them. Such demonizing of people with serious mental illnesses is incredibly damaging. The movie may imply that someone with DID could be violent, but experts say those people are more likely to hurt themselves than others. The film maker said ‘he watched video diaries made by people with DID and inquired about it with medical professionals’. However, he did not sit down with a DID patient while preparing for the role.
This lack of research and understanding of the condition now allows the film to stigmatize the disorder and may have a negative impact on people who have the condition. This can result in people shying away from speaking out and accessing help.
if you have not seen the film split,i would recommend it! See the trailer below for a better understanding.
Here are the real symmptoms of the disorder! If you have seen split then try to compare what is being portrayed in the film, to what acctually occurs in real life.
13 REASONS WRONG?
Netflix original, 13 reasons why caused uproar. But for the right reasons?
For starters, the series romanticizes suicide. From previous research, it is known that highlighting dramatic portrayals of suicide in the media can lead to the increased suicide rate. Thus, suicide attempts using the same methods displayed on the screen. Furthermore, this impact is dangerous and risky. Especially when there is no education on mental health.
The series blames others, as a result of the bullying he commits suicide. However focus should have been shifted to highlight that around 90 percent of those who commit suicide suffer from one or more mental health issues. Additionally, allowing them to respond differently in situations. This is not presented on screen. The series suggests that suicide was the protagonist’s rational “choice” in order to escape the emotional pain caused by others. Its seen as revenge to those who done the bullying.
Furthermore, in society today people with mental illness are being encouraged to speak out. Whether this be at school or at home. This series tends to highlight
that teachers and school administrators are not only a potential resource for support, but also very much part of the bereaved community. This however did not stop the act of suicide happening. Maybe, suggesting that adults are somehow incapable of really listening to youth at risk. That no matter if they speak out it wont get any better.
It is too dangerous a topic to use for entertainment.
This series had good intentions and real potential to make a universal difference. To reduce the stigma of mental illness, promote mental health care, and inform the public about the signs and symptoms of adolescent depression. But it seemed to have backfired.
Again, i have attached the trailer below.
Hollywood’s depiction of characters with mental health problems has oft been criticised for being lazy and clichéd.But at least they are trying?
Most successful films tend to include the ‘perfect’ character or a character the audience relates to. Not everyone suffers from mental health, therefore it must be incredibly difficult to create a digital film based around something without experiencing it?
Everyone’s idea or experience of mental heath is unique, thus leading me to question are these texts being judged too harshly? Classic love stories are based around an ‘ideology’ of what love is. But not everyone will experience love in this way. Just like mental illness, it is subjective. They receive more negative feedback as it’s a sensitive topic but they could just be highly misunderstood.
The effort of trying to raise awareness for mental health should be applauded in any way shape or form.
Hopefully in the future there will be a greater selection of media texts highlighting the importance of mental health. There is not enough sources to convey that digital media portrays mental health negatively.
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FEEL FREE TO SHARE ANY DIGITAL MEDIA THAT YOU FEEL HAS HAD A POSITIVE/NEGATIVE STANCE TO MENTAL ILLNESS.