Thursday, 26 September 2013

Backlash

I have umm'ed and ahh'ed about writing this post since last night. It's not a post I particularly want to write, and on some level I'm not even sure I wholeheartedly agree with writing it in the first place. However, I opened this blog for myself. I didn't imagine ever having a readership or a following. I didn't think I would have friends within the blogging community I could turn to in times of need or joy. In fact, I didn't know most of you existed until a year ago.

But this blog, my little slice of pink infused internet, is a place where I can write what I want. Whatever the backlash.

There have been a lot of topics over the past month that I have just kept my mouth shut over for fear of people disagreeing and being 'blogger blacklisted'. I usually find myself on the opposed side of most bloggers, agreeing with the stigma they're all angry at, or not seeing the point of being annoyed in the first place. Many posts have gone unpublished because of this, and I have decided no more.

This post is aimed at ASDA. You know, that giant supermarket chain we all love so much? Or at least people did until yesterday.

You see, ASDA released their Halloween costumes to the public allowing them to purchase for the upcoming event. Among these costumes was one entitled "Mental Patient".



The repercussions of this have been shocking. The folk of Twitter were up in arms about how disgraceful it was, distasteful, insulting, disgusting. You name it, it was said.

Call me naive, apathetic or uncaring.. but I don't understand.

The main people who had issues were those who had mental health issues themselves. Some who had previously spent time in a mental institution or were suffering from an illness relating to their mental well being. Don't get me wrong, I can understand why some people would have an issue with this, but it seems a little over reactive to me. 

No, people do not think of you as looking like a meat cleaver wielding psychopath.
No, people do not assume you wore a white coat covered in blood.
No, this is not what most mental patients look like.

But lets face it.. a crazy, murdering, meat cleaver wielding man is most likely going to end up in a mental hospital, is he not? And he has blood around his mouth so he's probably a cannibal too.. are you?

Suffering from mental illness myself, I am not unaware of the stigmas that surround the whole 'mental patient' idea, but when I think of a mental patient.. this is what I imagine. It is what is in the films, what is in books and what is in our imaginations. Realistically, this is a crazy person. A crazy, murdering person.. but crazy none the less. What else would you call it? Ever hear the story of the "crazed, escaped mental patient"? Yeah, me too.

The whole idea of the costume is meant to be scary, not to cause offense. Lets face it, someone dressing up like me isn't really going to cause much of a stir at the office Halloween party now is it? Me looking all forlorn and anxious isn't really the point. ASDA didn't release this costume because they believe that this is what everyone on anti-depressants, beta blockers and anti-axiety tablets look like.

The main issue here is the title of the costume. Remove the word "patient" and swap it with something such as "murderer" I don't see many people having an issue with it. The same way you see a costume of operating scrubs with blood spatter entitled "Mental Doctor". I don't really see many Doctors screwing at ASDA about the implications of the costume. The word patient implies that this is someone to feel sorry for, someone that needs treatment or is suffering. The costume implies otherwise.

I am not condoning what ASDA have done. I know that lots of people have been hurt and upset by the releasing of this costume and in no way am I telling them how to feel. But if this costume had been named something else, would anyone have even been bothered?

PPS: Feel free to disagree with what I have written - but please keep the nastiness to yourselves. I appreciate not everyone is going to agree with me - I have written this knowing that majority don't.

3 comments:

Marilynn said...

There will be no backlash from me here. I think a lot of what you say is correct. Of course ASDA didn't release this product to be deliberately offensive, although like you I can understand why people do find it offensive. It plays into the stereotype that people with mental illness are scary and dangerous etc.

However, as far as I'm concerned this issue has been dealt with. The item has been removed and an apology issued. I've read that some people don't believe that ASDA's apology was good enough, but I don't know what their apology would have to include to be "good enough". People make mistakes, companies make mistakes. The general public (including bloggers) have made their feelings quite clear about this. Lessons have been learned. What more can be said really?

Thanks for being brave enough to write this blog post. The blogging community seems a bit of a minefield right now & a lot of bloggers are afraid to write about what they think. Personally I'd much rather see someone write honestly about how they feel (even if I didn't agree with that person), than someone jumping on the bandwagon to fit in.

Lauren said...

"I am not unaware of the stigmas that surround the whole 'mental patient' idea, but when I think of a mental patient.. this is what I imagine. It is what is in the films, what is in books and what is in our imaginations."

I think this is the problem. People are fighting hard to get this image away from peoples minds when they think of a mental patient. ASDA haven't helped by encouraging that image.

Suzanne Whitton said...

I personally think there are far more important things to get angry and 'up in arms' about. I'm not keen on Halloween and scary costumes full stop. Just don't see the point. Good for you in writing what you think :) x