Depictions Of Health In Films Such As Suicide Squad

Mental Health

Depictions Of Health In Films Such As Suicide Squad

suicide squad

The release of the box office hit film, Suicide Squad, has prompted discussion and debate about Hollywood’s depiction of a variety of health issues. For some, the film, and it’s type, paint a picture that reinforces a negative stereotype of mental health and it’s various forms. On the other hand, films of this type are, by their nature, raising questions and by prompting debate, raise awareness.

The basic premise of the plot for Suicide Squad is that the government utilise ‘mad’ convicts. They are released to combat a more evil threat to society. As a safeguard, the released anti-heroes are fitted with explosive devices. If they do not comply, or go ‘rogue’ again, they can be disposed of. They are freed from an imaginary high security facility and the story of anti-hero group versus evil plays out…

The concept of having anti-heroes of this nature has raised concern in some quarters. See the example in the tweet below:


I find the authors take on such films very interesting. Like him, I have depression. I can understand what he means when he says:

There is a thick stigma surrounding mental health in our culture (perhaps most cultures) and the cost it is having is the highest possible: People are dying. And this stuff doesn’t help.

That exists over this side of the Atlantic too. However, is that last sentence right? The film has people talking about mental health. Yes, it may be via the medium of a comic based film; but it has, in a way, broken down a barrier. Does it make views worse? I don’t know. I’d imagine that for most people with a healthy mind who see some of the mental health related articles that have accompanied this film’s premiere that they’d take a passing interest on the whole. Most don’t hate. Many know people afflicted by our condition. Lots simply have not the inclination to expend any real time thinking about it.

This film and the enthusiasm around it makes me scared that people hate me. That the reality of my pain is a barrier to other people’s fun, and a thing studios are willing to exploit for the fun of those fortunate enough to have healthy minds. This fear tells me I should shut up and be quietly ill because I’m killing the mood.

Again, I can understand this. It is a horrible feeling of hopelessness and of being caught between a rock and a hard place. You don’t want to be a killjoy, yet feel pained by the exposure that a major production of this nature gives to a condition.

Is there though a deeper meaning to films of this type? There certainly have been in the past. Films – and books aplenty – that highlight the worst aspects of health or healthcare. That deliberately magnify current situations to show the perils of a particular policy or method running it’s course. Those dystopian works are quite cutting and can prove to be influential at policy level. The original version of Death Race 2000 is a good example of a dystopian film that has the treatment of patients embedded into it’s core.

There is also the example of people with any form of disability using their own condition as a means to help themselves. This may seem bizarre, but people with health conditions can and do make light of their conditions for all sorts of reasons: for some unrelated reason I am thinking of the comedienne Francesca Martinez.


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