The promo for Kasabian’s new single has been held up as a damaging example of how not to portray mental health. Lucy Nichol had a watch.
Kasabian have fallen foul of the mental health stigma ‘police’ with the unveiling of the video for their single, You’re in Love with a Psycho.
Released on Thursday, the music promo sees band members Sergio Pizzorno and Tom Meighan taking on the roles of patients in a psychiatric ward, and has been widely criticised for the use of damaging stereotypes, which apparently show we still have a long way to go when it comes to attitudes to mental health.
An overreaction? Allow me to answer that quite calmly. No. It is not.
I will admit to having a chequered past when it comes to mental health stigma. I know I’ve called somebody a ‘bunny boiler’ before, and talked of living ‘near the nut house’ in my younger years.
I don’t hate myself for it. It was wrong and I now know that. But I didn’t simply magic up these ideas from my own imagination. They were served to me on a plate by the media and the popular culture I was consuming at the time.
Television shows have a responsibility. Newspapers have a responsibility. Supermarket giants have a responsibility.
There is absolutely no excuse for a ‘mental patient’ Halloween costume. These products or platforms, as with anything that relies on shrewd planning for commercial return, have a lot of time and thought invested into them to create something they think will appeal.
How could the product manager/journalist/screenwriter let something as obviously damaging as ‘mentally ill people are on a par with the devil’ get past all the hurdles to market? But we all know those Halloween costumes got through. And that was only recently, never mind it being ‘how things were in the 80s’.
“Having experienced mental health stigma myself, I’ve watched the video for You’re in Love with a Psycho and I’m just not getting it. With such an obviously controversial aesthetic, what actually are they trying to say?”
We are all influenced by what we see and hear. And that includes music too. I remember sneaking out of the house as a little girl wearing a see-through vest top and a mini skirt made out of a winter snood because I wanted to look like Madonna. I had no idea that she was talking about sex in Like a Virgin. I didn’t really know what a virgin was. And looking back, I am glad I didn’t stray too far from home in that outfit.
Of course there’s a degree of interpretation and understanding involved. Kasabian might be making a comment about stigma that we are all missing. But I am an adult now with a vested interest in this subject.
Having experienced mental health stigma myself, I’ve watched the video for You’re in Love with a Psycho and I’m just not getting it. With such an obviously controversial aesthetic, what actually are they trying to say?
Fans argue it is representative of 60s asylums, not modern-day care. Well, OK, that being the case, why? What exactly is it saying? I STILL don’t get it.
Should we let it go? Each to their own? Free speech? When it comes to the influencers with the big bucks and the big following, absolutely not. It will only add bricks to the ‘great big wall’ with Mentally-Ill Misfits on one side and the United States of Normal on the other.
And what of those people like the 1990s teenage me, who think they live near a ‘nut house’? Not Kasabian or the supermarket giant, but Joe Public on Twitter or Facebook. Do all people who peddle stigma deserve to be placed in a dark room with the ‘mentally ill’ president of the United States and a ‘mental patient’ fancy dress costume?
Perhaps not. But we do all have some degree of responsibility.
While I am unimpressed with the Kasabian video, I am of course not suggesting that every fan who happens to buy the music is at fault. They’re the people we are trying to protect from stigmatised media and fancy dress costumes.
They are the people we want to welcome with open arms into our community. Not our mental health community – just our community. We want to promote understanding, tolerance, empathy and parity.
So while a big degree of responsibility definitely lies with the influencers and the media, let’s remember we all have a duty to do our bit too. Perhaps we should spend more time questioning what lands in our Twitter feeds and on our screens while also seeking out the truth for ourselves.
Check out Lucy’s blog on all things mental health here.4983 Views
Neurotic hen-keeper, feline friend and mental health blogger. Prone to catastrophisation and over excitement at the garden centre. Caution: do not give Diet Coke after dark.