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National Alliance on Mental Illness
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Different Movies, Different Strategies

Last weekend, Shutter Island was released. This week it's The Crazies. They are two very different movies. Different movies require different strategies. In a previous alert, we asked for ideas.

The Crazies

The Crazies

It's a science fiction horror film and remake of a 1960s cult classic. It has nothing to do with mental illness in the real world, but links an extremely stigmatizing title to an extremely stigmatizing plot. A town's water supply is infected by a mysterious toxin turning people "insane" and violent. Those who are unaffected have to fight their way out or die from "the plague or the military."

Language + stereotype = stigma. The plot is so extreme and disgusting that many people won't take it seriously. Protest may seem ridiculous or only help sell tickets by giving the film more publicity-except it is an example of the most outrageous kind of stigma.

What's sad is that Chris Albrecht, president & CEO of Starz Entertainment, which owns Overture Films, the studio that produced the movie, is "a long time advocate" for homelessness and children's health. He has raised funds for Los Angeles' Shelter Partnership and co-chaired a $250 million fundraising campaign for Children's Hospital in Los Angeles.

Send Them a Message

Please contact Mr. Albrecht to express disappointment that he is even remotely associated with a movie that undermines everything he stands for. Please send a copy to Los Angeles' Children's Hospital.

Mr. Chris Albrecht
President & CEO
Starz LLC
8900 Liberty Circle
Englewood, CO 80112
Feedback e-address

Gail L. Margolis, Esq.
Vice President, Government, Business & Community Relations
Los Angeles Children's Hospital
4650 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Hospital feedback e-address

Tell Overture Films that the film's title and linkage of violence to the buzzword "insanity" stigmatizes people with mental illness. The U.S. Surgeon General has warned that stigma and stereotypes, like the ones they have generated, are a barrier to people getting help when they need it. The company now needs to help set the record straight by funding public education on mental illness.

Mr. Chris McGurk, CEO
Overture Films
9242 Beverly Blvd, Suite 200
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(424) 204-4000
E-mail address for comments

Shutter Island

Shutter Island

This one is a serious film with megastars, but its significance may be lost in too many dark or disturbing images. StigmaBusters have hated the promotional advertising, but those who have actually seen the film are split.

The story is about a 1950's "asylum for the criminally insane" (authentic language from that era), a struggle for recovery and conflict between competing methods of psychiatry at a critical point in history- surgery, medication, and intense psychotherapy. The novel on which the movie is based credits Boston's McLean Hospital and the book Mad in America, which NAMI NYC Metro once honored, for providing background.

Ask the Company for Help

Ask Phoenix Pictures, which produced the film, to help fight the stigma that surrounds mental illness in 2010 by donating some of the film's profits to community mental health services in your community. Express disappointment that advertising around the film has been so extreme. If you have seen the film, offer your comments (pro and con).

Arnold Messer
President & CEO
Phoenix Pictures. Inc.
9415 Culver Boulevard
Culver, City, CA 90232
(424) 298-2788
E-mail address for comments

Use Them as a Teaching Moment

Use the publicity that has surrounded both movies to create a teaching moment in your community.

  • Call news editors and feature editors of local newspapers and news directors of local television stations
  • Shutter Island is about 1952. Local newspapers and television have run advertising about the movies. They should also run a story-or a series-about treatment and recovery in 2010.
  • Offer to help arrange interviews with individuals and families affected by mental illness.
  • Write letters to the editor, offer comments on local newspaper and television station Web sites and share short messages through social media like Facebook. Recommend NAMI's Web site for up- to-date information about mental illness.
  • Remind them that the Surgeon General has reported that most people living with mental illness are not violent. Instead, they are 10 times more likely to be victims of violence.
  • The Crazies is pure stigma. Forget poison water supplies, insanity and violence. Movies like it create a real public health hazard-stigma-that the Surgeon General has warned against.

Out of the Inbox

Because of the large number of StigmaBuster messages received, they cannot all be answered individually; however, we appreciate every e-mail and do review every stigma report and prioritize them for action.

We also appreciate receiving copies of responses. They are important in helping to coordinate strategy and pursue genuine dialogue. You are our eyes and ears! Your help makes a difference!

Please send reports of stigma to the StigmaBusters E-mail address.

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