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by Stephanie Keesee about a year ago in movie review
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Ableism In Practice

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While actors like Owen Wilson are considering if he lives in a simulation or not due to the movie ‘Bliss’ I am once again bewildered at the ease that our community feels with perpetuating harmful stereotypes of our community members with disabling mental illnesses as a form of entertainment.

People will do anything to escape discomfort and with the world at the height of discomfort during a worldwide pandemic the likes of which we have not seen in this lifetime we have garbage like Bliss being produced.

It is the equivalent of sticking individuals with severely disabling mental health disorders of a specific set of symptoms and marginalized caricatures in the coliseum to entertain the comfortable masses because they are so disillusioned with their privileged lives.

This movie was extraordinarily irresponsible. It glorified the use of substances, severe mental health crisis and perpetuated harmful stereotypes of homeless, sex workers, substance users and mentally/emotionally disabled members of the community. Individuals with severely disabling mental health disorders. Particularly relating to perceptions of reality.

This movie is a mockery of a portion of our population and it is not fair to them or their families. It set out to tell a story but instead it completely misses the mark because it does not communicate any accurate or worthwhile information about this portion of our communities.

Having a disorder where your brain creates an alternative version of reality, having out of body experiences or disassociation is not a form of bliss.

There are real conditions in which a person’s mind creates an alternative reality, a person hallucinates or disassociates. The people who have these conditions are not living in some amazingly beautiful island that looks oddly similar to Greece, yucking it up with rich scientists in an art gala. Most often these conditions are terrifying, isolating and confusing for those who have them.

Now keep in mind, this is only a portion of that part of our society. When these individuals get the help, they need in a supportive community setting they are able to live comfortable lives.

However, portraying a person with a severe mental health disorder gaining support, stabilizing and living out their life with their disorder being managed would hardly be escapist entertainment for the privileged masses would it?

This movie is trauma porn and ableism wrapped into an attractive Wilson Hayek package. People will watch it believing they are getting some inside perspective on what it is like to live with such a severe mental health crisis when in fact all they are watching is a distorted version of mental health through the eyes of a person who neither understands such disorders in a healthy way nor understands what is necessary to treat them.

To top all this off we have now created a trend of pushing away reality when it is most important to embrace it. One of the methods of treating such disorders is skill building, creating support networks and providing access to proper care.

Add to all of these issues the fact that the movie very clearly glorifies the taking of illicit substances in order to “advance” mentally. Here you have a reckless piece of media that could cause a crisis for a vulnerable member of our community who is receptive to such suggestions as “we are in a simulation and you need to take crystals (substances) in order to break out of it”

For the record I think the scene with Morpheus offering the red pill or blue pill is just as harmful.

Do not try to defend either with the plant medicine argument because that is cultural appropriation and an excuse to get high while escaping reality. Plant medicine in indigenous culture is not at all what our Americanized version that is soaked thoroughly in the chaos of the 60’s privileged classes.

In short, Bliss fails to communicate anything worthwhile on behalf of the groups it displays as it attempts to distract the usually comfortable privileged caste from its pandemic ridden existence. Bliss reduces the disabled characters to imitations of the truth for our entertainment by creating fear inspired stereotypes while mocking the very real struggle that objectively exists for those who truly believe they are living in a simulation.

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About the author

Stephanie Keesee

I write poetry, short stories in the genres of children's fiction, adult sci-fi/fantasy and horror. On occasion I may write cultural commentaries, inspirational articles, how to articles and fashion related articles.

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