National Alliance on Mental Illness
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STIGMABUSTERS ALERT: February 2004
We hope you enjoyed the holiday season: which these days seems to extend from Christmas through President’s Day. NAMI also held its annual Leadership Conference in January, and we’re only now getting caught up.
We have a big target that needs immediate action! Please contact EACH of the parties listed under the first complaint—including regularly mailed or faxed letters, if at all possible.
SCHIZOPHRENIC: JC CHASEZ & JIVE RECORDS
On February 24, Jive Records released a debut solo album by JC Chasez, who once sang in the band N’Sync (No, he wasn’t the one involved in the Superbowl incident with Janet Jackson).
The title of the album is "Schizophrenic." On the cover, along with promotional advertisements, is the image of a person strapped in a straitjacket. We’re not sure whether it’s JC, but that doesn’t matter. A picture of the cover can be seen on Amazon.com:http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B0001ADALU.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg
The album title may signify the eclectic range of music styles contained on the album; i.e., "multiple personalities," including a relatively frenetic song that one reviewer described as "country hip-hop with a post-hardcore, sung-screeched bridge, palm-muted garage-rock verses and a Chili Peppers chorus." The song titles and lyrics don’t involve mental illness, but rather sex and related themes.
The title "Schizophrenic" unfortunately perpetuates misinformation about the definition and nature of a severe illness. In context, its use is irresponsible. But adding the image of a straitjacket for shock value in promoting the album makes it outrageous. The net impact is stigma: ignorance, prejudice and discrimination.
Bertelsmann Media Worldwide (BMG) owns Zomba Recording Corporation and Jive Records. The president of the latter two companies is Barry Weiss. Through the album title and cover image, BMG Zomba and Jive have ignored the U.S. Surgeon General’s call on the entertainment industry to help eliminate stigma to address the public health crisis that exists—particularly among teenagers, one of the populations most at risk.
With release of the album, the damage is done. But there are several ways that NAMI StigmaBusters can help to hold accountable the companies and others who promote the album—and perhaps create opportunities for public education.
Contact the Companies:
Let them know the following:
For email address, please mark the subject line with a polite, but attention-getting exclamation (e.g., Boo! Shame! or Outrageous!) followed by: "BMG/ Jive Records Promote Stigma and Teen Suicide."
Public Relations Representatives
Patrick Reilly: email@example.com
Liz Young: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jive Records Public Relations:
Gina Orr: email@example.com
OTHER ACTION IDEAS:
Silver Ribbon Postage Stamp Campaign
Here is some good news!
The US Postal Service’s Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee reviewed the campaign’s proposal for a Brain Disability Awareness stamp and for the first time in 20 years has placed the nomination "under consideration for future stamp issuance." This is the first, important hurdle.
The next step is the Postmaster General’s approval for issuing a stamp in 2006 or beyond. Stay tuned for more information later this spring.
NBC SOAP OPERA OFFENDS
The NBC soap opera "Passions" recently presented a story line involving a character committed involuntarily to a psychiatric hospital, which has served only to reinforce the worst stereotypes of mental illness. The depiction included forced treatment with the apparent intention of destroying a character’s life to make her appear insane; being thrown into a padded cell in the "loony bin" wrapped in a straitjacket; and "shock therapy" administered while a person was fully conscious and moving.
The supervisor of the show’s writers claims First Amendment rights, but that’s not the point. No one is asking for government censorship. Instead, we ask NBC and the show’s producers to exercise responsibility ON THEIR OWN by not perpetuating stigma and misinformation that discourages people from seeking treatment and puts lives at risk.
Let’s tell the soap opera to clean up its act.
Also contact NBC to express concern that Passions surely has violated network standards by perpetuating stigma, which generates prejudice and discrimination against people with disabilities. It is more than simply offensive. It violates public policy and the Surgeon General’s call on the industry to act responsibly.
"Passions" Fax: 818-655- 6375
NBC Standards Office
Thank you for your patience between alerts. Some complaints take longer to trace back to sources for initial responses. Although we are not able to acknowledge every message we receive, we do read and prioritize them. You are our eyes and ears and your help is always appreciated.
With more than 220,000 members and 1200 state and local affiliates, NAMI is the nation's largest grassroots organization dedicated to improving the lives of people with severe mental illnesses.
Funding sources for NAMI programs include hundreds of state and local governments and foundations; tens of thousands of individual donors; and a growing number of corporations. NAMI's greatest asset, however, is its volunteers, who donate an estimated $135 million worth of their time each year to education, support and advocacy. NAMI does not endorse any specific medication or treatment.
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