NAMI StigmaBusters Alert: March 15, 2005
Looney Tunes To Become "Loonatics"
If Warner Brothers (WB) Entertainment has its way, new, slightly menacing-looking versions of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and other classic cartoon characters will appear in Fall 2005 as part of a brand new Saturday morning television series.
The new cartoon series has been announced publicly under the name "Loonatics," although WB recently told NAMI that the name is being changed to "Loonatics Unleashed," subject to review by WB's Legal Department.
Set in the year 2772, the cartoon involves travel in a space ship. Expect the characters to appear also on spin-off merchandise. "That's the ultimate goal of all kids programming," WB Entertainment president David Janollari recently told the Wall Street Journal. "If we score, it's a gold mine."
If WB scores, it also means perpetuating one of the more offensive slang terms for people with mental illnesses—"loonatics" as a version of "lunatics," regardless of whether they are leashed or unleashed. "Unleashed," however, is also offensive, because of its connotation of restraints.
Television shapes perceptions. WB essentially will be "programming" kids contrary to the public health concerns of the U.S. Surgeon General and others. Please ask them to find a new name.
- Drop both "Loonatics" and "Loonatics Unleashed" as the name for the new cartoon series.
- Don't program offensive slang and stigma to kids.
- Don't insult people with mental illnesses or their families.
- Don't encourage schoolyard taunts and bullies.
- Support the U.S. Surgeon General's campaign to promote treatment and suicide prevention. This is a serious issue. Not something that's appropriate for a television cartoon series.
- Make sure WB's Legal Department realizes that the insensitivity of the name to people with mental illnesses (including WB employees) risks liability under the Americans with Disability ACT (ADA). They should consider themselves on notice.
Warner Brothers Entertainment
4000 Warner Boulevard, Building 34R
Burbank, CA 91522
Send a message also to:
WB Animation Division
Federal Government Seeks "Voice Award" Nominations
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) is seeking nominations through the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for "Voice Awards" to entertainment industry professionals -- producers and writers of radio, television, and film -- who have given a positive voice to people with mental illnesses.
Nominations must be received by Monday, April 18, 2005 for professionals who incorporated dignified, respectful and accurate portrayals of people with mental illnesses into scripts, programs and productions that were released during 2003-2004.
Submitting nominations is free and open to anyone. Details and reasons for a nomination must be provided in 200 words or less. Nominations can be mailed or faxed to the address below.
The Voice Awards
Attention: Scott LaLonde
2121 K Street NW Suite 300
Washington, DC 20037
More information is available at www.allmentalhealth.samhsa.gov/voiceawards. Questions also can be addressed to Scott LaLonde at 202-331-4323 or email@example.com. The Voice Awards are part of SAMHSA's Elimination of Barriers Initiative (EBI).
Stella March, National Coordinator
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