Entertainment is nothing new. It has always provided humans with an escape from reality. There are many forms of entertainment such as TV shows, movies, music, and art. People also like to bond with each other if they like the same kinds of entertainment. For example, how many times have people bonded over a hot new movie after it’s been released, or a new season of their favorite TV show? It’s hard to miss. However, I would like to talk about the entertainment itself that people are being provided with.
Think of all of those shows rated PG-13 and up that you have watched. How many of these shows consist of a main character who has some kind of horrific past trauma or mental distress? Here are some shows that I can name off of the top of my head:
- Grey’s Anatomy
- Fifty Shades of Grey
- Perks of Being a Wallflower
- Catch Me if you Can
- The Joker (and Batman, maybe)
- James Bond (Skyfall, in particular)
- 1984 (Winston’s Childhood)
If you’re short on time, you can skip this next paragraph. I really just talk about the troubling past of all the characters of Grey’s Anatomy.
Grey’s Anatomy used to be my favorite show so discussing these characters comes easy to me. If you’ve never watched this show, first of all be grateful, because it is one of those shows that’s so horrible but so addicting at the same time (although nowadays it’s just horrible but that’s beside the point). It’s a medical soap opera that follows the life of Meredith Grey and her fellow surgeons as they become surgeons. As you would expect from a soap opera, there’s sex, love triangles, rivalry, and backstories. Let’s start with Meredith Grey, the main character of the show. She is the daughter of the famous surgeon Ellis Grey. Ellis has a dark history with Meredith and her father. She cut herself in front of Meredith when she was a young girl and sees a hospital psychologist in order to resolve her past. Ellis also has an affair with the chief surgeon of the hospital Meredith works at which doesn’t make things better for her. Meredith’s romantic interest, Derek Shepherd, is a world-renowned neurosurgeon who moved his whole practice to Seattle after his Wife (a gynecologist) cheated on him with his best friend (a plastic surgeon). Eventually both the wife and best friend coincidentally transfer to the same hospital that Derek works at because… television. Oh, and did I mention his father was shot when he was a boy? Meredith’s best friend Christina also has a bit of a dark history: Her father bled to death in front of her when she was young resulting in her wanting to become a surgeon when she grows up. I could go on, but I think you get the point.
I’m going a bit overboard here but you get the point. It’s so easy to name movies that try to connect with their audience by showing them some kind of disturbing past experience and navigating the world with that experience. Why am I talking about this? It’s because the message that these shows are sending is that (a:) everybody has some kind of negative past experience and (b:) it’s okay to internalize it so deep that it affects the way you present yourself to the world. As I have said in previous posts, this is NOT how the real world works.
Like all of these characters in this show, almost everyone has some kind of embarrassing or troubling history that they would feel more comfortable not sharing. However here is the key difference between this land of make-believe and the real world I live in that I wish to share with everyone: You are not responsible for the horrible things that happen to you, but you are entirely responsible for the way you carry yourself throughout the world after the matter. Society and its perception of mental health has changed drastically over the past century. Talking about your past history used to be taboo and nobody was supposed to talk about it. However, it appears that the pendulum has swung the opposite direction and mental illness is now celebrated in a way. I really don’t think celebrating mental health is as good as keeping it taboo. Both are equally unsettling to me, but those who use the internet and see the types of media presented to them on their social media feeds know what I am talking about.
There’s another important lesson that I learned growing up. If you’re stressed, anxious, sad, or experiencing a period of mental distress, a mantra I repeated to myself is that it doesn’t have to be this way. If you’re bummed out because you don’t feel like you’re anywhere near the goals you want to reach, it doesn’t have to be this way. If you recently broke off from a family member or a family member has passed on and you feel like you have no idea what to do with your life, it doesn’t have to be this way. This is one of the first steps to recovering from a difficult time. Believing that you can change anything and everything about yourself is important. Many people may believe that you are who you are, your born this way, and that’s that. I tell all of those people to shove it.
Image Credits: “Grey’s Anatomy” on ABC