I try to buy products that are handmade, recycled, upcycled, used, etc. I go to thrift stores, used book shops, and love the website, Etsy. The reason I do that is so that I can feel good about all of my purchases knowing I didn’t contribute to companies that harm their workers, use child labor, or pollute the environment. Of course I also support small businesses by shopping at Etsy and support many nonprofits by shopping in their thrift stores. It is a win-win situation all around.
I am not always successful at being a conscientious consumer though. There are times when I am in a hurry and buy products that I normally wouldn’t buy, or times, when I don’t do my research and find out later that I have supported a business, corporation, or in the case I am about to tell you about, some artists that I had no idea created stereotypical information about people with mental illnesses.
I saw this band, and a video they made, in my newsfeed on Facebook (the link I am sharing isn’t the same one I originally saw). I listened to the song again and again because I loved their remake of the original (I like the original, too).
I posted the video to my Facebook page.
Yesterday, I decided to look up the band on YouTube and see if they had any more songs that I like. This is the first song I found (Trigger Warning – suicide). Is it possible for the band, Disturbed, to be any more stereotypical about mental illness than they are in that video? The part that really bothers me is that the video has well over ten million views.
I do not want to support a band that makes videos like that. I guess they think that mental illness and psych wards make you edgy, dangerous, different, and cool. It is easy to see why so many teenagers write poetry about mental illness and inaccurately think they are “crazy.” When the bands you listen to and look up to are making videos that you watch over and over again and those videos are about stereotypes of mental illness – when was the last time you wore a uniform in the psych ward? That isn’t of course the worst of it – the message of the video is that the “keepers” of the psych ward are “jailers” and they are out to punish, change, hurt, and subdue, and even kill you.
I find that people who fall back on stereotypes to sell their art are not very creative. They certainly aren’t edgy, different, or cool. To be truly cool and edgy you have to put a new message out there. This one is as old as lobotomies, and I give this band a thumb down. No, worse than that, I give them an F at social messaging that impacts others. They reached millions of people with images that harm millions of Americans. I wish the media would pick up on this type of “stereotyping” and call artists out and hold them accountable. It is a shame that they can make money by making our lives worse – we have to live with the stereotypes they promote. This band reminds me that we have such a long way to go in seeing mental illness as the disease that it is, and we can’t even count on artists to take us the next mile or so – we have to move ourselves forward and it feels like we have to do that by crawling on our hands and knees.