StigmaBusting Network and Alerts
NAMI CAMPAIGN STIGMA BUSTERS EMAIL ALERT Update
NAMI Campaign to End Discrimination
6 June 2000.
|Contact Information: |
Ms. Stella March
NAMI StigmaBusters with its dedicated advocates across the country are successfully fighting the pervasive and damaging stigma that exists toward mental illness.
We welcome other organizations who wish to use the contents of our Alert, with credit to NAMI StigmaBusters.
- FOX FILM: Me, Myself & Irene Letter and Press Release
- Background and Message Points
- FOX TV: Titus and The Simpsons
- NAMI Convention TV Awards
- FOX FILM : ME, Myself & Irene
Letter and Press Release
June 9, 2000
Mr. Bill Mechanic
Chairman & CEO
20th Century Fox Film Corporation
10201 West Pico Boulevard
Los Angeles, California 90035
Dear Mr. Mechanic:
On behalf of more than 210,000 members and 1200 affiliates of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI), I wish to strongly protest the advertising campaign which 20th Century Fox has undertaken for the new Farrelly Brothers movie, Me Myself & Irene, starring Jim Carrey.
Frankly, NAMI is incredulous at the gross ignorance and insensitivity reflected in both the premise of the movie and its promotion. At a time when too many Americans already view Hollywood with disdain, 20th Century Fox Films is demonstrating an almost complete lack of responsibility as a corporate citizen. It is especially ironic that the company, has chosen to launch an advertising campaign for a movie about a "schizo" state trooper ("From Gentle…to Mental") on the first anniversary of the first White House Conference on Mental Health, and efforts by the U.S. Surgeon General to eliminate stigma and ignorance about mental illnesses.
In his landmark Report on Mental Health, Surgeon General David Satcher declared forcefully that "stigma must no longer be tolerated" and that stigma must be reduced by "dispelling myths about mental illness and and by providing accurate knowledge to ensure more informed consumers." In contrast, Me, Myself & Irene perpetuates a myth that schizophrenia—a severe, biologically-based brain disorder—is the same as a "split personality" or multiple personalities. Both the movie and the advertising campaign promote ignorance over education.
Me, Myself & Irene’s June 15th premiere in Hollywood also follows by about a week Mrs. Tipper Gore’s launch of the Mental Health Awareness Campaign from the White House, which has begun to air public service announcements (PSA’s) aimed specifically at overcoming stigma and promoting treatment among youth—the same audience to whom the film is partly targeted. Your public relations team is seeking to dismiss such concerns with claims that the film is "only a comedy," but for millions of Americans, schizophrenia and other mental illnesses are no laughing matter. An estimated six million young adults struggle each year with serious mental disorders. Suicide is the third-leading cause of death among those ages 15 to 24, and second among the college-age population. These also are the ages most susceptible to the "first break" of schizophrenia. Unfortunately, no one will learn to recognize symptoms and understand the onset of the disorder by watching Me, Myself & Irene, or by being exposed to its advertising, because 20th Century Fox has chosen to present an utterly false depiction.
Promotion of ignorance over public health concerns is made worse by the tastelessness and cruelty of the advertising campaign: mocking, stigmatizing slogans on posters, billboards and sides of buses ("From Gentle Mental"); on T-shirts ("I am schizo and so am I"); and drinking cups split into two sections. Most offensive of all are bottles of "pills" (i.e., jelly beans) being distributed to movie critics and others with instructions to "Take one pill every six hours for advanced delusional schizophrenia with involuntary narcissistic rage" and a warning that side effects include "genital elephantiasis"—an apparent reference to a line in the movie in which Irene "compares" Carrey’s two characters. Putting aside the mockery of yet another disease, the promotion dangerously trivializes the role that medications play in the treatment of schizophrenia—and in light of the fact that many psychotropic medications unfortunately involve some degree of sexual dysfunction as side-effects, adds even greater insult to the injury of misinformation.
NAMI members intend to pursue a range of activities to protest the movie in communities around the nation, but we have no illusions that they will make any difference in the movie’s profit margin. We appeal instead to public opinion and whatever corporate conscience you have. To balance the destructive impact the movie will have on people with mental illnesses, their families and friends, and national policy goals, we ask that:
- The star of Me, Myself & Irene, Jim Carrey, tape public service announcements (PSA’s) about the true nature of schizophrenia, its symptoms, and opportunities for treatment and recovery.
- During talk show appearances, newspaper interviews, and other promotional appearances for the movie, Mr. Carrey clarify the major difference between schizophrenia and a multiple personality disorder, and include discussion of personal experiences in support of the Surgeon General’s anti-stigma campaign.
- 20th Century Fox Films arrange for placement of Mr. Carrey’s PSA on television and as a trailer in movie theaters.
NAMI invited 20th Century Fox Films earlier this week to send a representative to our national convention in San Diego, to participate in a discussion on "StigmaBusting and the Entertainment Industry" on June 17th. We stand ready to consider other opportunities for dialogue and cooperation.
For Immediate Release Contact: Bob Carolla or
June 9, 2000 AnneMarieChace
NAMI PROTESTS "ME, MYSELF & IRENE"
Jim Carrey Movie Perpetuates Myths About Schizophrenia;
Undermines U.S. Surgeon General & White House Efforts to Eliminate Stigma
Arlington, VA—The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill today launched a national protest against the new Jim Carrey movie, Me, Myself & Irene, which is scheduled to premiere in Hollywood on June 15 and be released nationally on June 23—claiming that the movie and its promotional campaign represent "gross ignorance and insensitivity" to people with mental illnesses and their families.
In a letter to 20th Century Fox Film Corporation president Bill Mechanic, NAMI’s executive director, Laurie Flynn, charged that the company is demonstrating "an almost complete lack of responsibility as a corporate citizen." She noted that the advertising campaign for the movie, about a "schizo" state trooper, has coincided with the first anniversary of the first White House Conference on Mental Health and recent efforts by the U.S. Surgeon General to eliminate stigma about mental illnesses."
Earlier this week, Mrs. Tipper Gore also launched the Mental Health Awareness Campaign from the White House, which will air public service announcements (PSAs) aimed specifically at overcoming stigma among youth—one of the key audiences that 20th Century Fox is targeting with the film.
"Me, Myself & Irene perpetuates a myth that schizophrenia—a severe, biologically-based brain disorder—is a split personality," Flynn said. Fox is "seeking to dismiss such concerns with claims that the film is ‘only a comedy,’ but for millions of Americans, schizophrenia and other mental illnesses are no laughing matter. An estimated six million youth struggle each year with serious mental disorders. Suicide is the third-leading cause of death among those ages 15 to 24, and second among the college-age population."
"These also are the ages most susceptible to the ‘first break’ of schizophrenia," Flynn explained. "Unfortunately, no one will learn to recognize symptoms and understand the onset of the disorder by watching Me, Myself & Irene, because 20th Century Fox has chosen to present an utterly false depiction."
Flynn said Fox’s promotion of misinformation has been made worse by the "tastelessness and cruelty" of the advertising campaign, which include stigmatizing posters, T-shirts, and bottles of "pills" (i.e., jelly beans) warning that side effects include "genital elephantiasis," an apparent reference to a line in the movie. Unfortunately, many medications for psychiatric disorders involve some degree of sexual dysfunction.
To balance the movie’s destructive impact, NAMI is asking that 20th Century Fox have Jim Carrey tape PSAs about the true nature of schizophrenia and arrange for placement both on television and in movie theaters—and that Carrey clarify the difference between schizophrenia and a multiple personality disorder during promotional interviews about the movie, and include a discussion of personal experiences in support of the Surgeon General’s anti-stigma campaign.
2. Background & Message Points
BACKGROUND: We have spoken directly to Fox VP of Corporate Communications who threw us a "crumb" by taking down one of their insensitive "From Gentle to Mental" Billboards which had been located across the street from a large Mental Health Clinic in Los Angeles. She insisted that this film was a comedy with no offense intended for any group or any disease. I reminded her that schizophrenia, a specific disease, is mentioned but she insisted that no offense was intended since this film is a comedy.
This is the FOX position. There are no sponsors. They are interested only in their box office returns which will probably soar with the popularity of Jim Carrey, the Farrelly Brothers, and their appalling, outrageous, offensive promotional/advertising activities. This is a motion picture with world wide distribution.
MESSAGES: However, we can take advantage of this opportunity to educate
- FOX top executive & VP Communications
- Your own local community through letters to the local newspaper editor -- and (also suggested by a StigmaBuster participant) and the film critic -- advising them about the real nature of schizophrenia as follows:
- This is a comedy that uses schizophrenia (sometimes calling it multiple
personality) which are severe brain disorders, as the butt of their humor.
- This impacts, in a most hurtful and insensitive manner, the one in five Americans who suffer from this disorder, and their families.
- This comedy with its outrageous approach to this brain disorder will reinforce the pervasive public stigma based on ignorance and centuries old myths and misconceptions
- US Surgeon General David Satcher has reported that in the U.S. -- with one suicide every 17 minutes – 90% are by persons with mental illness. The impact of films in this area is most intense.
- Using the most demeaning, dehumanizing, reprehensible ads and promotional materials that will perpetuate stigma – Including the split head of Carrey, one part gentle one part mental - Jekyll /Hyde portrayal on buses, bus stops, bill boards, t-shirt with "I am schizo, and so am I", and a split division cup….AND ….
- Mocking the need for medication by persons struggling with schizophrenia. : film reviewers have received from FOX, bottles of schizophrenia pills (actually coconut jelly beans) promoting "Me, Myself & Irene" with the comment...TAKE 1 PILL EVERY SIX HOURS FOR ADVANCED DELUSIONAL SCHIZOPHRENIA WITH INVOLUNTARY NARCISSISTIC RAGE. Side effects, it warns, include "genital elephantiasis." Medication is a basic need for real people suffering with schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is not a laughing matter.
- Would they do this with any other population suffering from a brain disorder like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s? Or even other disorders like diabetes, heart disease, HIV, cancer? Or, if a member of their own family had schizophrenia?
- The entire ad campaign is promoting this film on the backs of persons with a severe
mental illness…specifically schizophrenia…at times, incorrect called multiple personality).
- Check your local newspaper for letters to the editor which usually include their email and fax address. The same for your local newspaper film reviewer.
- Fox Executives via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Name with the address for postal mail follows:
Mr. Bill Mechanic, Chairman & CEO
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp
10201 West Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90035
Phone: 310-369-1000 FAX: (310) 369-2095 Web: www.foxmovies.com
Florence Grace, Vice President, Corporate Communications
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp
10201 West Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90035
Phone: 310-369-5634 Fax: 310-369-8825 www. foxmovies.com
3. Titus and The Simpsons
We will be dealing with these two FOX TV shows when their production offices re-open in July.
4. NAMI MEDIA AWARDS TO TV SHOWS AT THE CONVENTION.
The good news is that NAMI has commended several TV shows during the past year and at the San Diego Convention awards will be presented to the following:
Outstanding Media Award: Educational Programming – Television
Oprah Winfrey, Supervising Producer, "The Explosive Child"
The Oprah Winfrey Show, February 18, 2000
This award is given to the Oprah Winfrey Show for its sensitive, yet realistic depiction and discussion of explosive behaviors in children triggered by brain disorders, including bipolar disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and opposition defiance disorder. In additional to featuring several families who courageously came forward to share their struggles raising children with these conditions, this segment also emphasized the need for proper diagnosis, the importance of the best treatments, including medication and behavior management, and the implications on the family system.
Outstanding Media Award: Entertainment – Dramatic Series
Marshall Hershovitz and Edward Zwick, Executive Producers
Once & Again, March 13, 2000 episode
Marshall Hershovitz and Edward Zwick are recognized for bringing an accurate and sensitive portrayal of severe mental illness to the American viewing public. In this episode of ABC’s weekly dramatic series Once & Again, a new character, Aaron, is introduced as a brother of one of the main characters. Aaron has schizophrenia and his long institutionalization had been kept a dark family secret because of the stigma associated to mental illness. However, this episode features, after many years of separation, his sensitive interaction with his family at his father’s funeral. This sequence underscores the hope and the struggle for recovery.
We do hope to meet you at the NAMI 2000 Convention in San Diego. Please look for me at the NAMI Communications Booth.
Stella March, Coordinator,
NAMI StigmaBusters Email Alert