Hollywood’s drama ticket….SUICIDE

Hollywood has long used the shock value of suicide in their movies. I have been watching Netflix and there are many movies on there not familiar to me. Too many times I have watched a movie not knowing of the suicide that comes unannounced…as in real life. Does art imitate life or does life imitate art? Because suicide is the most dramatic of events, they casually use it. Sometimes an entire movie, i.e. “The Virgin Suicides” is all about the obvious. But, most of the time…it is used as a means of “OH NO!!” A cruel blow to the unknowing victim/observer who has real drama in their own life from such as that. Entertainment it is not.

Television is no exception. I have seen it used time and again on the criminal, hospital type movies/shows…which there are too many to name. There is no way to protect yourself…even comedians use suicide as a laugh! Most recently I wrote about two comedians…Kevin Nealon, Jim Gaffigan…who use the topic as a means to make us laugh. Just last night, Jerry Seinfeld. There is probably many more than I know about. I think disclaimers should be used if suicide is a part of a story line in movies, television, etc….

We already know that many young and immature minds are easily influenced, especially mentally ill minds.  Copycat suicide is a real phenomenon. My son was prone in his youth to listen to music by depressed people, like Kurt Cobain and the like. Songs are hard to predict unless the lyrics are posted on the inside label…but the depressed mind is like a moth to the flame when rhythm is added to sad and despairing lyrics. It is a death knell.

While we have choices to make as to what we watch and listen to, we, our children, our future, are slammed with the casual use of violence in all forms. One of my favorite quotes if from Plato’s Republic. It would serve our society well if we would listen and adhere to the wisdom imparted.

“You know also that the beginning is the most important part of any work, especially in the case of a young and tender thing; for that is the time at which the character is being formed and the desired impression is more readily taken.

And shall we just carelessly allow children to hear any casual tales which may be devised by casual persons, and to receive into their minds ideas for the most part the very opposite of those which we should wish them to have when they are grown up?

We cannot. 
Then the first thing will be to establish a censorship of the writers of fiction, and let the censors receive any tale of fiction which is good, and reject the bad; and we will desire mothers and nurses to tell their children the authorised ones only. Let them fashion the mind with such tales, even more fondly than they mold the body with their hands; but most of those which are now in use must be discarded….”

I believe that censorship begins at home. If our society did not buy into those “casual tales…” then perhaps those who profit from such casualness will change to what is demanded of them.

Below is just a few of the movies and tv programs featured on Netflix that include suicide in them either by mention or action. While the telling of historical figures in some of these movies is necessary, my problem is with the gratuitous kind of suicide just for the shock of it. I know that when I see a movie with the word “suicide” in its title that that is what I am going to get. If I know a movie is about Virginia Wolfe’s life or Sylvia Plath…the informed and educated person will know the outcome.

If you can think of anymore…and there must be more…please add them in your comments. I have not watched all of these movies, of course.

1. The Virgin Suicides

2. The Burning Plain

3. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape

4. Thelma and Louise

5. The Dead Poet’s Society

6. The Apartment

7. The Patriot

8. Cyberbully

9. Fatal Attraction

10. Girl, Interrupted

11. Shawshank Redemption

12. Master and Commander

13. The Hours

14. Monsieur Lashar (foreign)

15. Sweet Revenge

16. Legend of the Fall

17. First Wives Club

18. ‘Night Mother

19. Crimes of the Heart

20. Devil’s Advocate

21. The Prisioners

22. After Jimmy

23. Prayers for Bobby

24. The Tudors (Showtime)

25. Cleopatra

26. The Ring

27. Desperate Housewives

28. Morvern Callar

29. Rules of Engagement

30. Saturday Night Fever

31. The 6th Sense

32. The Omen

33. Chicago Fire

34. Top of the Lake

35. American Beauty

36. The Grifters

37. Harold and Maude

38. Valley of the Dolls

39. Monster’s Ball

40. Little Miss Sunshine

41. Obsessed

42. Brothers

43. The Secret Life of Bees

44. Hostel

45. Asylum

46. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

47. The Bad Seed

48. Flyboys

50. Sylvia

51. Full Metal Jacket

52. An Officer and a Gentleman


10 thoughts on “Hollywood’s drama ticket….SUICIDE

  1. Excellent post, LG53. Particularly clever in grounded it upon the words of Plato. Yes, there are things that children and even young adults should not be exposed to. Life does imitate art on occasion, and this isn’t necessarily a good thing.

  2. That must be very painful to see suicide joked about in a movie.
    I’ve felt similarly about mental health in general.
    It seems like people use (dark) humor as a way to cover their own insecurities about ‘taboo’ topics. I think it reveals their lack of education about something, and certainly a lack of compassion.

  3. Officer and a Gentleman is another. There are many ways that a program/movie is labled: lang, violence, sexual content etc. Seems that it would be easy to add that distinction as well. That would provide parents and opportunity to not let those images empact their child.
    Excellent observation.

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