It Has Been Some Time
It Has Been Some Time....since I have been at this thread but, since many more comments have been made since I was here last I'll post a piece I wrote about people with disabilities having a central place in movies.-Ron
Even as the medicine and therapy for mental health disorders have made remarkable progress, the ancient social stigma in relation to psychological illness remains largely intact. Families are loath to talk about it and, in movies and the media, stereotypes about the mentally ill still reign. Whether it is Norman Bates in Psycho, Jack Torrance in The Shining, or Kathy Bates' portrayal of Annie Wilkes in Misery, scriptwriters invariably tell us that the mentally ill are dangerous threats who must be contained, if not destroyed. It makes for thrilling entertainment. There are some notable exceptions, of course -- Dustin Hoffman in Rainman, or Russell Crowe's portrayal of John Nash in A Beautiful Mind. But more often than not, the movie or TV version of someone suffering from a mental disorder is a sociopath who must be stopped.
Alex Forrest is considered by most people to be evil incarnate. People still come up to Close saying how much this character terrified them. Yet in her research into her own behavior, she only ended up empathizing with this character. She was a human being in great psychological pain who definitely needed meds. She consulted with several psychiatrists to better understand the "whys" of what she did and learned that she was far more dangerous to herself than to others. The original ending of Fatal Attraction actually had Alex commit suicide. But that didn't "test" well. Alex had terrified the audiences and they wanted her punished for it. A tortured and self-destructive Alex was too upsetting. She had to be blown away. So, the director and producer went back and shot the now famous bathroom scene. A knife was put into Alex's hand, making her a dangerous psychopath. When the wife shot her in self-defence, the audience was given catharsis through bloodshed, Alex's blood. And everyone felt safe again. The ending worked. It was thrilling and the movie was a big hit. But it sent a misleading message about the reality of mental illness/distress.
married for 45 years, a teacher for 35, a writer and editor for 13, and a Baha'i for 53(in 2012).