Anyone who comes from a ”colourful” family will enjoy P.J. Hogan’s latest film Mental. It is, in Aussie slang, not everybody’s cup of tea. Mental is over-the-top, raw, crude and maddening. I thought it was hilarious.
Entertainment aside, the film acts as a sort of Uncle-Sam-ometer indicating how far we’ve come in adopting the American view of madness. I read books on madness. Crazy Like Us by Ethan Watters looks at the way the US exported its biomedical view of mental illness that requires expensive drugs globally or, as I see it:
We’ve got pink pill
We’ve got green pills
We’ve got happy, happy little yellow ones
And they’re all called Just-Give-Me-Them
And they all taste just the same
(Sung to Little Boxes performed by Pete Seeger)
In the US, mass-marketing and madness go hand in hand. Freud’s nephew Edward Bernays opened the first PR firm in New York in the ’20s to sell soap and cigarettes. So the founding member of the Mad Men club was Freud’s nephew. Group therapy of the 1970s, based on theories of mad psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich, were quickly adopted by marketing interests and turned into focus groups to sell more soap and cigarettes.