National Alliance on Mental Illness
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(800) 950-NAMI; email@example.com
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.
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
Gail L. Margolis, Esq.
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
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).
Use Them as a Teaching Moment
Use the publicity that has surrounded both movies to create a teaching moment in your community.
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.