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Is 'Bird Box' Perpetuating The Mental Illness Stigma?

Out of all the "Bird Box" theories, the most believable is the mental illness one.

Is 'Bird Box' Perpetuating The Mental Illness Stigma?

"Bird Box" has gotten a lot of press since its release in December. The straight to Netflix movie starring Sandra Bullock reported over 45 million accounts watching it in the first week alone, making it the most watched Netflix release on record.

Based on the post-apocalyptic book by Josh Malerman, "Bird Box" has already gained a cult following and a ton of negative attention because of how the topic of mental illness is portrayed during the movie. Horror movies showcasing unknown creatures with the sole purpose of destroying mankind are not a new concept and Bird Box has plenty of them to offer.

Why is "Bird Box" receiving so much attention in a time when end-of-the-world movies are more popular than ever? It is hard to deny this movie is making a statement about people that suffer from mental illness. Upon encountering an invisible force, most of the world's population simply look at what seems to be their worst fear or sadness and are immediately compelled to end their life. Because only people that escape this fate are a few mentally ill people, many viewers believe this is a statement about society and the negative view of those that suffer from mental illness.

Sandra Bullock plays Malorie, a mother of two small children, who is forced to protect them from the looming monsters while stumbling in a world where survivors are forced to adapt to the loss of vision if they want to survive.

The star of the show is an unknown, invisible monster(s) that compels people to kill themselves as soon as they look at it. We see this during the scene where the very pregnant Malorie struggles to escape the terror and the wife of Douglas (played by John Malkovich) runs outside of a house to help her. She reaches Malorie and immediately stares off into empty space and immediately her eyes change into characteristic bloodshot color changing, says, "Mom?" and runs to the nearby burning car to end her life. Malorie reaches safety and learns that the woman's mother had been dead for years.

In a world where most people are compelled to commit suicide, mentally ill characters appear to be unaffected. As the story unfolds we are shown the true depth of the harm the mentally ill are capable of when patients from a mental institution for the criminally insane escape the powerful evil that as they seek out survivors and force them to look at the invisible evil monsters.

As soon as Malorie and the other mother give birth they are confronted by an escaped mental of these and it is here where Malorie ends up being the only survivor after the mother jumps to her death. Soon, not only are the survivors fighting off the invisible force, but also looking for others to force their eyes open to look at the creatures. As one of these "unique" characters said, "They wanted to see, they were happy, they were so glad. They said everyone needed to see"

Why did a handful of survivors escape the carnage only to seek out others and force them to confront their worst fears by looking at it?

I believe viewers are never shown what the creatures look like because every one of us has a different opinion about the "ultimate" fear and sadness we all have deep inside of us. I have one theory about the meaning behind Bird Box that hinges on mental illness. Mental illness is a disease that manifests in different ways. Some people suffer from severe, prolonged depression while others may feel melancholy for a few days or weeks. Most of us will never hear the whispering voices or intrusive thoughts that someone suffering from schizophrenia experiences. It is these people that have experienced the "worst of the worst" and have been forced to learn to live with the most extreme forms of mental illness Looking their worst fears in the eyes does not cause the immediate rush of emotions that cause others to commit suicide.

"Bird Box" challenges viewers to spend 2 hours in a post-apocalyptic world in the middle of a mass group suicide. This alone is disturbing enough for some. Add in characters who suffer from mental illness and their newfound passion for forcing everyone around them to kill themselves and you have the perfect mix that interests millions of people who want to know what it all means.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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