I went to the premiere of Mockingjay Part I a while ago. Even though I had read the books (and fangirled over them for years), something struck me as I sat in the theatre. The film depicts Katniss through her trails and tribulations with losing someone she had come to love so dearly. We were also able to see the psychological damage that Katniss was going through.
It’s so uncommon in action films to see a character experience psychological problems due to what they experienced. It was an amazing thing to see such realism in characters. Think about it: would anyone come out unscathed through the trauma that these characters experienced?
Katniss had to change who she was as a person to survive. She became a murderer – not by choice, that’s for sure. The audience could see the impact that the death of killing someone had on her. In Catching Fire, we see Katniss plagued by nightmares of her first kill.
I teach, and in the playground I see kids pretending to blow each other up with imaginary guns. It’s all fun and games. They’re all pretending to be the good guys, battling and killing the baddies – and there’s nothing wrong with that because “we’re fighting evil, miss!”.
But what if, instead of having a comical view of our heroes, we had a realistic view. What if we saw the impact and damage that violence causes? To show that as humans we aren’t indestructible, and it’s ok to not be.
What if, instead of showing mental illness through our villains, we show that heroes can also be affected.
It was refreshing to see Tony Stark, in Iron Man 3, go through signs of anxiety and panic attacks. It’s good to see writers letting heroes be human. They’re looking into the realistic factors that occur whilst going through destructive events.
Mental illness should not be looked at as a weakness. It should be visible in our heroes — seen as something that could happen to anyone, even the best of us.
Through having the strongest characters in action films show what is impacting them and that they are not invincible, we will see more people relating and accepting people that have mental illness.
Maybe in future, there can be a possible shift in perception of mental illness. Instead of the usual “harden up” attitude people may give to one struggling, there can be an understanding and acceptance. All in all, wouldn’t relating to one another and supporting each other be better? It is something to think about.▼