Over the weekend, one of the trending topics on Facebook was Amanda Bynes and her involuntary admission to a psychiatric inpatient unit. Reports are that her agent has let the media know that this is true. Speculation is pretty rife at the moment about why she is there, what led to it and of course her past is being brought up all over the place. This post is about Amanda though, this post is about the celebrity culture and mental illness.
Every time a celebrity is admitted to a psychiatric unit, looks disheveled or is otherwise not acting ‘normal’ the tabloids are quick to swoop, eager to tell us that the celebrity is ‘going off the rails’. Speculations are thrown around, with the general consensus being that they are spoiled brats that just need to get over themselves. Regardless of a mental health diagnosis or not.
Some people are under the impression that celebrities are immune from mental illness, that someone with that much money couldn’t possibly be unhappy or ‘crazy’. Despite the suicide of Robin Williams, a man known for his ability to make others laugh, people are still standing by with their pitchforks of judgement.
The celebrity culture is something completely different to anything that the average person is exposed to. We can only take a guess at the things that they go through, a guess from the sidelines, a place that’s easy to pass judgement.
I couldn’t imagine living my life under a microscope, having my every movement analysed by all and sundry. However a lot of people believe that, that is what they signed up for, by becoming a celebrity. I disagree. I don’t think anyone needs to be subjected to such a strong invasion of privacy, regardless of their occupation.
Celebrities and politicians seem to be the only people who are held to this high level of scrutiny. While I agree with the latter, I think the former needs to be cut some slack. I believe that people should be allowed to have privacy when they are seeking treatment for a health issue. I don’t need to see pictures of a celebrity off their face on illicit drugs, no one does.
Some people may believe that by tabloids talking about celebrities suffering from a mental illness then it helps raise awareness, and get’s people talking about it. I say no, no it doesn’t. These tabloids might start the conversation, but the conversation is a negative one. This conversation plays into all of the stigma and myths around mental illness.
The trouble with this conversation too, is that it is against the will of the person the story is about. It’s gossip, nothing more. Could you imagine someone writing a story, posting it online, complete with pictures when you were at your most unwell, against your will? That is essentially what the tabloids are doing. They don’t care about the impact that story will have on the person they are writing about, they only care about making a buck.
What do you think of the celebrity culture and mental illness?
Linking up with Kirsty for I must confess.
I totally agree with you. I don’t think that celebrities should have their privacy invaded. If they are walking down a red carpet or promoting their new movie or whatever that’s one thing, but their private lives and difficulties shouldn’t be open game for everyone. Generally, I don’t really care about celebrity gossip, except when it comes to my Karen Carpenter obsession. There was a recent documentary from the UK which focused on her death and autopsy. I couldn’t help watching while feeling weird that this poor woman who has been dead for 30 years (as a result of suffering from a mental illness) is STILL having such private details aired. Sigh.
Agree with everything you are saying. I’m convinced this adds to the problem and makes things worse for the celebrity.
I really feel for celebrities, just like us regular mortals there is bound to be about 10% or more with mental health issues, except they have the spotlight on every move they make.
I don’t see how it can help ANYBODY to have people talk about them at a point in their life that they are seeking help whether voluntary or not. The last thing they need is to know that they are working on sorting through some issues and people are out there speculating and spreading gossip and who knows what affects it could have.
I agree Tegan – the sensationalist angle of most of these articles definitely doesn’t help anyone and does nothing to address the ongoing stigma of mental illness. Unfortunately I can’t see it changing anytime soon…
As someone who used to work as an actor I can say that I have witnessed a lot of insecurity and low self esteem in the industry and this is despite success. Actors/celebrities are scrutinised very publicly about their performances and getting gigs is so often based on appearance. It is a very shallow industry and you need a shield to protect yourself from the very personal judgements. There are so many let downs and rejections too. I can say that over time this can really eat into an individual and this doesn’t even factor in pressure and privacy invasion that the big name celebrities are subjected to. It’s not as it would all seem from the couch reading the magazines or watch E News that’s for sure.
I can only imagine the medias malicious portrayals would only deepen the issues for these individuals. It’s a sad thing.
Interesting points. So many that I hadn’t considered. I think you are right.
I don’t care much for celebrity gossip or trashy magazines. I do feel that celebrities put themselves in positions to be follow and scrutinised and sometimes I feel sorry for them. I also think they are in a powerful position to do something about breaking the barriers and stigma of mental illness.
I must be the only person in Aus who didn’t ever watch *that* twerking video. I knew about it only because people kept talking about it and it was in headlines everywhere, when I log in to Yahoo it takes me quite deliberately to the news page instead of the email page. I rarely click any of the links. Similarly, I would no more click on a link to those stolen celeb photos than I would consider crapping in my hands and clapping.
I think the point I am making is we have the power to influence this poisonous behaviour by no longer clicking on it, linking to it or reading it. If it looks like tattling and sniggering – and let’s face it, nearly everything in the media is – just ask if you need to know this. Will it make you a better person, or improve your life in any way? Or will it just be another ugly little snippet of foulness clogging up the internet and your mind?
I was never an avid consumer of celebrity tales, but in the past I did sometimes read magazines and articles. No longer. Unless I am bored out of my mind in the doctor’s waiting room, and even then I usually bring a book.