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  • Arya Kastwar

Idea #36 - Pop Culture & The Romanticisation of Mental Illnesses

How often do you come across a brilliantly talented and driven character in film who has come to be the way they are not as a consequence of emotional or mental trauma but of a healthy nature/nurture they grew up in?

Today we watched Katlyn Firkus’ TEDx Byron to Batman: The Pop Culture Problem of Romanticising Mental Illness where we explored the archetype of the Byronic hero and how it perpetuates the notion that suffering is a necessary precursor to brilliance. It is true that, more often than not, the protagonists as well as the antagonists, are written to be brilliant, gifted, prodigious not as a result of genuine passion to strive for perfection but of severe mental illnesses stemming from past traumas.

Romanticising mental illness to seem like the primary driving force behind the genius of the character instead of elements of consistency, sheer effort, and seeking help to have a more balanced mental stability does more damage to the audience than is thought. In a day and age where children and young adults, who are so vulnerable and so easily moldable and swayed by the content they consume, it misleads them into believing they need to suffer in the same way the character does in order to feel even a little closer to them.

Firkus also talks about the Tumblr Sad Girl archetype which has, over the years, contributed substantially to the rise in mental health problems in the younger generations.

Although being one of the pressing matters in media and entertainment, this subject is something we do not talk about enough.

Written By: Arya Kastwar

Curated By: Hetvi Kamdar

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