National Alliance on Mental Illness
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NAMI StigmaBusters Alert: July 1, 2005


Boos For Cruise

Protests have grown steadily since actor Tom Cruise, while promoting the movie, "The War of the Worlds," first criticized actress Brooke Shields for taking antidepressants for postpartum depression.

On June 24, Cruise finally crossed a line when in a TODAY Show television interview, he declared: "There is no such thing as a chemical imbalance."  In an Entertainment Weekly interview, he also compared psychiatry to Nazism.

Along with the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and National Mental Health Association (NMHA), NAMI condemned Cruise’s remarks in a formal statement released to the news media. He is entitled to his personal point of view, but not false facts -- particularly when they perpetuate stigma around the nature of mental illness and treatment.

Some StigmaBusters have called for a symbolic boycott of the new movie. Realistically, there’s little hope of making a dent in the millions of dollars in profits it is expected to rake in. But every individual can make a choice based on personal conscience—and write letters to editors condemning the irresponsibility of his remarks.

Cruise also has spread his views as part of a Paramount Studios publicity tour for the movie. Don’t let the studio off the hook. Please contact its head to make the following points:

  • Mental illnesses involve biological brain disorders, no matter what Tom Cruise says. Medication and proper therapy often make a difference between life and death.
  • It is irresponsible for Paramount Studios and Mr. Cruise to use a movie publicity tour to promote an ideological view that deters people with mental illness from getting the care they need—and adds to stigma.
  • Paramount Studio should help undo the damage. Support legitimate mental health organizations and public awareness campaigns around mental illnesses.

Brad Grey
Chairman & CEO
Paramount Studios
5555 Melrose Avenue
Hollywood, California 90038
323-862-1204 (fax)

Batman Begins, Stigma Returns

"Batman Begins," could have been a great movie, except for one horribly stigmatizing aspect of its plot that is based on violent stereotypes.

One of the villains is a corrupt psychiatrist. He is part of a conspiracy to put hallucinogens into Gotham City’s water supply, which when vaporized, will cause people to have psychotic episodes -- during which they will start tearing each other apart, causing the city to destroy itself. For the first wave of violence, inmates in the insane asylum are unlocked and sent into the streets.

The ending suggests a second movie to come, with the Joker as a villain.

Please write the studio:

  • They ruined a great story by criminalizing mental illness and perpetuating violent stereotypes.
  • They have undermined the US Surgeon General’s and President Bush's call for an end to stigma and support for recovery.
  • In the next Batman movie—if there is one—please instead portray a hero with a mental illness; shown not for terror or comedy; but as an example of courage and recovery.

Barry Meyer
Chairman and CEO
Warner Brothers Entertainment
Building 2, Executive Suite
4000 Warner Boulevard
Burbank, CA 91522
818-954-6794 (fax)

Stella March, National Coordinator
NAMI StigmaBusters

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