NAMI Protests "Me, Myself & Irene"
Jim Carrey Movie Perpetuates Myths About Schizophrenia; Undermines U.S. Surgeon General & White House Efforts to Eliminate Stigma
For Immediate Release, June 9, 2000
Contacts: Bob Carolla or Anne-Marie Chace 703-524-7600
Arlington, VA-The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill today launched a national protest against the new Jim Carrey movie, Me, Myself & Irene, which is scheduled to premiere in Hollywood on June 15 and be released nationally on June 23-claiming that the movie and its promotional campaign represent "gross ignorance and insensitivity" to people with mental illnesses and their families.
In a letter to 20th Century Fox Film Corporation president Bill Mechanic, NAMI's executive director, Laurie Flynn, charged that the company is demonstrating "an almost complete lack of responsibility as a corporate citizen." She noted that the advertising campaign for the movie, about a "schizo" state trooper, has coincided with the first anniversary of the first White House Conference on Mental Health and recent efforts by the U.S. Surgeon General to eliminate stigma about mental illnesses."
Earlier this week, Mrs. Tipper Gore also launched the Mental Health Awareness Campaign from the White House, which will air public service announcements (PSAs) aimed specifically at overcoming stigma among youth-one of the key audiences that 20th Century Fox is targeting with the film.
"Me, Myself & Irene perpetuates a myth that schizophrenia-a severe, biologically-based brain disorder-is a split personality," Flynn said. Fox is "seeking to dismiss such concerns with claims that the film is 'only a comedy,' but for millions of Americans, schizophrenia and other mental illnesses are no laughing matter. An estimated six million youth struggle each year with serious mental disorders. Suicide is the third-leading cause of death among those ages 15 to 24, and second among the college-age population."
"These also are the ages most susceptible to the 'first break' of schizophrenia," Flynn explained. "Unfortunately, no one will learn to recognize symptoms and understand the onset of the disorder by watching Me, Myself & Irene, because 20th Century Fox has chosen to present an utterly false depiction."
Flynn said Fox's promotion of misinformation has been made worse by the "tastelessness and cruelty" of the advertising campaign, which include stigmatizing posters, T-shirts, and bottles of "pills" (i.e., jelly beans).
To balance the movie's destructive impact, NAMI is asking that 20th Century Fox have Jim Carrey tape PSAs about the true nature of schizophrenia and arrange for placement both on television and in movie theaters; and that Carrey clarify the difference between schizophrenia and a multiple personality disorder during promotional interviews about the movie, and include a discussion of personal experiences in support of the Surgeon General's antistigma campaign.