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The Representation of Mental Illness Within Film - Dissertation Example

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The Representation of Mental Illness Within Film

The popular cinema happens to serve two important purposes that are projecting the salient mass perceptions towards some individuals or groups and on the other hand informing the target audience regarding the factual information pertaining to some sections of the society. In that context, when it comes to people suffering from mental illnesses, the cinema has certainly furnished the masses with the content associated with these two expectations. That is on the one side cinema has served an important role regarding informing the masses about the facts associated with mental illnesses and on the other hand cinema has also played a big role in ossifying the stereotypical notions pertaining to the individuals and groups suffering from mental illnesses (Wahl, 1995, p. 5). It goes without saying that the way mental illnesses get represented and reflected upon in films is an issue of paramount importance as it pertains to the well being and representation of a salient section of the human population (Hinshaw, 2007, p. 202). In that context the role played by cinema in the representation of mental illnesses has been mixed and ambivalent. Mental Illnesses and Expectation from Cinema It is a fact that cinema does play a pivotal role in constructing and shaping the popular mass perceptions (Rafter, 2000, p. 62). Hence, before delving on the larger issue of the representation of mental illnesses in cinema or films, I will be more appropriate to delineate the ideal expectations that an informed individual could have when it comes to the representation of mental illnesses in films. It is a fact that there is a dire need to change and alter the public perceptions about people suffering from mental illnesses, if one goes by the general public attitude towards mentally ill people. Thereby, it is expected from cinema to give way to a salubrious climate in which not only the issues related to mental illnesses get openly discussed, but which also comes heavily on the generalized stereotypes usually associated with people ailing from mental illnesses (Rogers & Pilgrim, 2005. P. 36). For the first appropriate step in this direction will be to enhance public knowledge regarding the mental illnesses. This is because people tend to garner the knowledge and information regarding the issue of mental illnesses from a wide range of sources that could be the first hand experience, news media and print literature and the characters suffering from mental illnesses as they are represented in films or stage presentations. It is also true that it gets really difficult for cinema to facilitate a factual portrayal of the characters suffering from mental illnesses, when the popular perception tends to be so replete with standardized stereotypes. Hence, many a types, the films are in a way pushed into perpetuating the negative stereotypes about mental illnesses, shaped to a large extent by the already existent popular stereotypes and the audience expectations about the way they want to see mentally ill people being depicted in them (Paquette, 2003). Yet, it is also true that all the creative professionals actively associated with film making, are they directors, producers, actors, script writers or editors, could indeed play a positive and realistic role in reframing the way people think and perceive mental illnesses (Chinball & Petley, 2002). By doing so they will not only be setting the scores correct regarding an issue that is of immense public importance, but as have many films shown, the films could still accrue box office records by depicting the mentally ill ...Show more
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Summary

Consider the fact that the contemporary audience tends to be more informed about the mental illnesses; one does expect the more recently released movies to retain a more benign attitude about the mental illnesses…
The Representation of Mental Illness Within Film
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