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Friday 20 January 2017

Running The Asylum

 Quick, name five Batman villains.

Okay. Good.

Think about the folks you named. Like, imagine each of them. I would have a few guesses but honestly, I want y'all to do the mental footwork here. It's been a day of it, and I am running a couple cylinders short.

Hold the images of those five Batman villains in your head.

How many of them suffer from mental illness?

You'll note my choice of words, there. I didn't ask how many of them were crazy, or how many of them were lunatics or whatever. I asked how many of them suffer from mental illness.

My guess is that out of the five you guessed, we're looking at...MINIMUM two. Probably more. Maybe all five. It's certainly easy enough to go for all five.

It's not just Batman that has a significant quantity of this going on. I mean as best I can recall he has the MOST going on, but if we look at a cross section of everything - not just comic books but novels, movies, television - time and again we find that the bad guys have profound mental health complications.

I mean, just look at Split.

We are entering a dark time, right now. As I write this, the newly inaugurated 45th President of the United States is beginning his... let's call it an escapade, through the rights and wrongs of the nation. People are feeling under threat, and rightly so - the rhetoric of the man himself and his followers is inimic to justice, nobility and equality.

And in this environment of hostility and toxicity, a forthcoming movie - admittedly one directed by a man whose spectacular fall from respect in Hollywood circles is legendary - will tell people who know no better about how dangerous those who are mentally ill can be.

I have mental health problems. I know plenty of people who do, also.

We're not fucking comic book villains. We're not just waiting for our moment to strike. We don't lurk in the shadows and wear special costumes and plot our revenge against society.

See, this is part of why this shit is taboo. Because when the protagonist has a mental health issue, it's so often something that gets presented as fucking comedy. Monk, anyone? In fact, every shade of being neuroatypical is used as either the marker of villainry or something to laugh at every now and then.

Why is it considered a daring or risky thing when a MAIN character experiences something that one in FOUR of us will experience each YEAR? It's more likely that a character will experience mental health problems than them being a white male (~8% of the world's population, but classically overrepresented literally EVERYWHERE).

Just a thought.

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