deird1: Darla and Drusilla, with text "old world" (Darla Dru old world)
[personal profile] deird1
One thing that's been coming up in the comments at Mark Watches lately is BtVS's portrayal of "crazy" people. Which... well, I have thoughts.

The general position taken by many of the commenters is that:
1) Joss Whedon tends to portray people as generally "crazy" rather than specific-diagnosis crazy.
2) They tend to be over-the-top completely freaking nuts.
3) This is stereotyping mentally ill* people as extremely weird and freaky, which is bad PR, and not a good thing.

* (And other people who are not classified as mentally ill, but are still not neurotypical. I just didn't want to try to squeeze all of that into a single sentence.)

I see their point. I even partly agree. But my position is somewhat different.

I have a learning disability that wasn't diagnosed until I was in my mid-twenties. Which pretty much meant I spent the first twenty-odd years of my life thinking I was lazy.

Twenty years of thinking something doesn't get erased overnight. I still tell myself I'm lazy for not paying bills, not organising my life, not replying to emails, and not doing everything else I can't do - because no matter how much I am aware, theoretically, of my inability to function, I'm actually just lazy - I know I'm lazy - I've always been lazy - clearly it's just laziness, right?

It's not a nice thing to think about yourself.

And I tend to approach fictional characters the same way. Give me a character who is actually realistic, and has realistic brain issues, and I will sit there thinking they're lazy. Just like me. After all, they could obviously function normally if they really wanted to, right?

But then there are the crazy people. Joss Whedon's long line of people who are completely freaking nuts. (Including: Drusilla, Tara, River, Fred, Spike, Angel, Dana, Buffy, and Alpha. And probably several more.)

The crazy people... are not just lazy. They're not functioning normally because they can't function normally. They actually have REAL issues, that are really real and not just excuses.

When I see them, I feel affirmed. Because maybe there really are people who have trouble doing stuff. And maybe I really am having trouble too.

The thing is, I get the fact that over-the-top portrayals are problematic and othering. I understand all that. But having realistic portrayals would made me feel crappy - whereas the over-the-top crazy speaks to me.

Which is why I'm glad it's there.
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