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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.

See also www.jcchasez.net and www.jiverecords.com

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:

  • JC Chasez’s album title and cover image are irresponsible and outrageous. They directly violate the Surgeon General’s call for the entertainment industry to help eliminate stigma. They are contributing to the crisis that includes teen suicides.
  • Straitjackets are an extremely painful image for people who have suffered exceptional trauma during a mental illness. It also represents a cruel, atypical stereotype that perpetuates stigma and discourages people from getting help when they need it.
  • Even more outrageous: the album is being marketed to teenagers who are within the age range when the onset of schizophrenia is most likely. Suicide also is the third leading cause of death among teenagers today, and are among the least likely to receive proper diagnosis and treatment for mental illnesses.
  • What will BMG , Zomba, Jive and JC do to offset and reverse the damage they have committed through this depiction of "schizophrenia?" They now need to support public education to eliminate stigma, in specific, tangible ways.

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."

Rolf Schmidt-Holtz
Chairman & CEO
BMG Worldwide
1540 Broadway
New York, N.Y. 10036

Public Relations Representatives

Patrick Reilly: patrick.reilly@bmge.com
Phone: 212-930-4961
Fax: 212-930-4015

Liz Young: liz.young@bartelsmann.com 
Phone: 212-782-1120
Fax: 212-930-5404

Barry Weiss
President
Zomba Recording/Jive Records
137-139 West 25th Street
New York, NY 1001
Phone: 212-727-0016
Fax: 212-645-3783

Jive Records Public Relations:

Gina Orr: gina.orr@jiverecords.com
8750 Wilshire Blvd
Beverly Hills CA 90211
Phone: 310-358-4200
Fax: 310-358-4280

OTHER ACTION IDEAS:

  • Check your local music or book store chains to determine if they are selling the album or displaying straitjacket posters. Ask to talk with the manager. Explain why they are offensive.

    Ask if they will give a brochure or fact sheet about schizophrenia or other mental illnesses to anyone who buys the album—and provide space for NAMI handouts in a prominent display area in the store Feel free to distribute fact sheets printed from www.nami.org.
  • Contact local radio stations playing songs from the album. Ask for the station manager. Explain concerns about the title and cover image. Ask that the station also create public service announcements or have their news department sponsor a public affairs program about teens, mental illness, and suicide prevention--emphasizing the importance of reducing stigma to promote treatment and recovery.

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.

James Reilly
James.reilly@nbc.com
Creator/Head Writer

"Passions" Fax: 818-655- 6375
4024 Radford Avenue
Studio City, CA 91604

NBC Standards Office
3000 West Alameda
Burbank, CA 91523
Fax: 818-840-4731

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.

Stella March
National Coordinator
NAMI StigmaBusters
smarch@nami.org


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.

Please send this page to a friend using the orange button on the left if you know someone who might like to be added to our mailing list and join in speaking out against stigma. New subscribers to NAMIStigmaBusters Alerts may sign up at www.nami.org/subscribe. NAMI StigmaBuster Alerts are electronic newsletters provided free of charge as a public service. Contributions to support our work can be made on-line at www.nami.org/donate or via regular mail. Please make checks payable to NAMI and send to P.O. Box 79972, Baltimore, MD 21279-0972, or donate through the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC #0538).


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