Media Representation is significant for people’s view of the world and of themselves. Television, movies and social media have become some of the most prevalent ways that people can view events around them. People interact with media daily, but films and television shows seem to be the most viewed platforms. There’s one caveat: most of the content in movies and television are narrative stories. These narrative stories portray different versions of reality or try to emulate actual issues faced in this reality. Some of those issues are extremely serious, like mental illness. Films have a long history of portraying mental illness, but as an artform that can be expressive sometimes the portrayal of illnesses are not completely accurate. In fact, there seems to be a trend “that renditions of mental illness in film represent another type of despair; a malaise, anxiety, post-war trauma sense of difference and otherness” (Packer, Mental Illness in Popular Culture). Many filmmakers use mental illness concepts to have appealing stories, but do these portrayals accurately show and describe the reality of these conditions?
I’m going to challenge that representation of mental illness isn’t always accurately portrayed because of the statistics that surround mental health. There are many portrayals of people that deal with illness and disorders, but most of those portrayals are not accurate, in that they do not agree with the statistics. Mental illness is a diverse concept that can affect people from many different backgrounds, yet most of the portrayals in media “most characters living with it are male, young or middle-aged, Caucasian, and with, at least, a middle-class income” which gives us “fewer opportunities to observe, imagine and question how living in poverty, being a woman, aging, and/or suffering from racial or ethnic prejudice further complicate the already complex universe of mental illness”(Friedrich, The Literary and Linguistic Construction of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: No Ordinary Doubt). I observe films from recent years that have mental illness incorporated into the plot to show that media, specifically films don’t have completely accurate or diverse portrayals of the illness they are trying to simulate.