Saturday, August 17, 2019

Dementsploitation



Media doesn't come to us from without- we get the media we demand. Stories that tap into the fear and neurosis of our times sell.

I'd rather raise questions than level accusations, but it's worth thinking about the number of times dementia has come up in recent and not-so-recent TV shows. While the older Sherlock Holmes sketch in Mitchell and Webb show has a high degree of pathos, a sketch from a reunion of The Fast Show is played more for laughs, albeit there is pathos (I think) here as well. Besides comedy, the Black Mirror episode Playtest plays dementia for the horror genre.

It is perhaps not surprising that the horror and comedy have dealt with dementia-these genres often trade on the collision between our subjective sense of self and the objective world around us, seen at a distance from a third person's perspective. What could be a more intense version of this than the juxtaposition of a person's subjective life story and their sense of autonomy with the undermining of this by dementia?

Where does entertainment or even raising awareness etc. start to descend into exploitation? There are many facets to this, but one point I'll make is that although depictions of dementia can be used to inject an emotional punch into a story, this isn't so great if it just leaves the viewer with a sense that dementia is the worst thing that could happen to anyone, as if there were no help whatsoever. People with dementia can have a good quality of life. The understand together campaign is aiming to tackle stigma towards people with dementia: https://www.understandtogether.ie/

Related posts
Stigma "goes meta"
The loved ones

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