In my research, I have mentioned certain inaccurate and negative stereotypes of visual and verbal representations of mental illness in kids animation and how these stereotypes affect and stigmatising people especially young kids. But, beside stigmatisation there is also the simple fact of morality… is it ethical to knowingly give wrong statements to the audience about a certain subject? So according to those stereotypes insanity for instance “is ugly, has thick eyebrows, unruly hair and a big forehead” therefore insanity equals deformity. When a kid watches animated cartoons and is introduced with an insane or mentally ill character, it is expected to use the math above. So, I raise these questions: What if the beautiful Cinderella had an obsessive compulsive disorder? How would an animator depict this representation and how the results would affect the audience? For instance, would she be loathe of her mouse friends because of the germs a mouse can have? What if the beautiful Sow White was schizophrenic? What if the beautiful Rapunzel was experiencing fake reality? Would she had nausea every morning while brushing her hair? How would these depictions smash certain stereotypes? or would they form a new math like mental illness equals beauty, pureness and innocence?
Another question I would like to raise is about the verbal representation of mental illness and the words use to name them in adultly animation. They do not use verbal stereotypes such as “coo coo” “lunatic” or “nuts” as often as in kids animation but they do the exact opposite. Instead of using formal names of mental disorders they use more general terms like “mad” or “insane”… it is adultly animation after all. Why, in adultly animation like the Tell-Tale Heart there is no mentioning of the word schizophrenic? The narrator wants to convince the audience that he is not insane by saying the exact words “…you think me mad, what mad man would wait, could wait so patiently…” So I ask this: why would he not say “…you think me schizophrenic, what schizophrenic man would wait…” Is it because the word “mad” is a more general term and not all the audience would be familiar with the word schizophrenic? Is it because these matters are delicate and mentioning words like “schizophrenic” could disrupt certain groups of people? Is it because of aesthetic purposes? What if an animator use straight forward terms for verbal representation of mental disorders and how would this affect the audience?
This leads into a conclusion which is why mental illness must be translated or explained in animation through words or images, what if you make a formula where insane equals insane or insane is… insane it is. I will explain what I mean with an example found in the movie Avengers: Age of Ultron where a man called Vision is born and is asked to name his existence. His exact words are “I am not Ultron, I am not Jarvis… I… am… I am.” Special emphasis I would like to give in his last two words “I am” where he does not label him self with anything, neither Ultron which is a villain , neither Jarvis which is good. So if we would translate the two words we could give a similar phrase… “I exist”, simple as that and nothing more. Surprisingly , I my self being one from the audience found my self not caring of what Vision might be, but being satisfied with the fact that he exists, just simply be what he is. I then realised the power behind those two simple words “I am” that forced me to accept his existence without putting labels, neither good nor bad nor neutral.
The part with Vision’s words start at 2:17 – 2:25
What are you? I am not coo coo, I am not schizophrenic… I am.
What is mental illness? Mental illness… it is.
How can I represent mental illness in my animation using the formula above? Would this formula work the same way Visions words worked? Would this unconsciously urge the audience to be satisfied just with fact that mental illness exists?