Beneath the Surface of the Glitz and Glam of the Entertainment Industry
[dropcap size=big]I[/dropcap]n case you’re living under a rock, the past few months have been a dark and tough time for everyone especially for people in the culinary and fashion industry, for we have lost two brilliant souls – fashion icon Kate Spade and chef extraordinaire Anthony Bourdain to the invisible struggle. In fact, mental health advocate, Demi Lovato, also shocked the world with her sudden overdose after a night of excessive partying, which she has been relentlessly fighting for years to overcome.
…we have lost two brilliant souls – fashion icon Kate Spade and chef extraordinaire Anthony Bourdain to the invisible struggle.
Many can’t put a finger on how mental illness comes to be, and how this disheartening disease could take even the happiest and most successful people we look up to without warning. However, there are various circumstances such as exposure to technology, pop culture, fame, and demanding lifestyles that potentially add up and push someone to the point of no return.
The Invisible Struggle that Bites Back
Mental health is probably one of the most significant things in life that we take for granted. For decades, people have always taken it lightly by assuming that one is simply overreacting. Little did we know that behind the faint smiles and happy-go-lucky personas we portray online, are tired and lost souls on the brink of demise. It’s easier to understand when the illness manifests physically, but those who get consumed by it fought through it alone in silence. It comes more of a shock when we discover that famous people who are successful, wealthy, and may possibly have everything imaginable in the world are battling inner demons to the point where suicide is the only way out of the labyrinth of life.
Little did we know that behind the faint smiles and happy-go-lucky personas we portray online, are tired and lost souls on the brink of demise.
Being in an industry where people are forced to put on a great show and be segregated in boxes, there comes a time in their lives when they forget who they truly are and what they’re living for, but sometimes they are in too deep in their careers that they would continue entertaining for the sake of business and pleasing audiences, even if it makes them incredibly miserable. Not to mention, the toxic working environment where abuse, sexual assault, alcohol, and illegal substances are rampant and regarded as the fastest way to climb up the ladder. No wonder that we have lost a great number of icons across all industries namely Kurt Cobain, Marilyn Monroe, Ernest Hemingway, Alexander McQueen, Robin Williams, Chester Bennington, Avicii, and unfortunately, the list goes on.
Due to their irregular working schedules and the scrutiny they go through on a daily basis, it takes a toll on their health and social relationships, which leads to depression, alcohol and drug abuse, anxiety, and other hard to cure mental illnesses. Furthermore, when we express extremely hurtful and negative opinions towards celebrities through social media, we neglect the fact that they’re human too, capable of being damaged beyond repair.
The Role of Pop Culture
Pop culture definitely plays a huge part in shaping us, and some would argue that it does more harm than good. Yes, it’s possible in some cases wherein people are unable to differentiate the fine line between fantasy and reality or when creative content poorly represent its facets. However, if we take a closer look at today’s line up of films and TV shows, we could see that filmmakers are making an effort to address social issues and take advantage of fictional characters to open the eyes of people who still think that it’s a matter to be swept under the rug. Pop culture paves the way to help us sympathize with the people who fight through it every day, and the sufferers are given the appropriate resources and courage to reach out and express themselves openly.
Celebrities such as Selena Gomez, Zayn Malik, Ryan Reynolds, and Miley Cyrus have taken advantage of their platforms to open up about their personal struggles with the disease and it has helped them, their peers, and fans to cope with their own struggles better because they know they have a community to support them. Films and shows tackling social issues across all industries and demographics such as 13 Reasons Why, Love, Simon, The Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, BoJack Horseman, Black-ish, and Sweetbitter are living proof that we are moving forward, recreating the stereotypes portrayed on screen, and acknowledging the existence of debilitating issues in our society. To have a better understanding of its magnitude, NBC’s hit show This Is Us tackled and portrayed anxiety in adults, which most people around the world experience, in such a way that authentically shows the symptoms, stages, and aftermath of panic attacks, and why people need to get help from others in order to heal.
…This Is Us tackled and portrayed anxiety in adults, which most people around the world experience, in such a way that authentically shows the symptoms, stages, and aftermath of panic attacks…
It is extremely crucial to address these social issues in its rawest form in able for people, especially skeptics, to understand the harsh reality that the afflicted face regularly; as well as to stop invalidating their feelings and personal struggles.
The passing of these two celebrated icons in the world calls for us to stop demonizing and downplaying mental illness, and let it be a reminder to keep the conversation going and challenging the stigma by any means necessary, may it be through acts of kindness, film and TV, books, or art. We have the power to change lives by simply having compassion, reaching out to anyone, and being aware of what we put out into the world.