Today (or Yesterday, depending on when you read this..For the sake of argument; the 1st of Feb) is the 20th Anniversary of the disappearance of Manic Street Preachers‘ rhythm guitarist ‘Richey Edwards’. Checking out of the Embassy Hotel in London, his activities are largely unknown, except that his car was found near the Severn Bridge – A notorious suicide spot. With the recent tragedies, and stories of depression, suicide, and self harm amongst media figures, this anniversary seems more of a talking point, than a celebration
As Caitlin Moran said about Edwards‘ disappearance and character:
“…he was the first person in the public eye to talk openly about these subjects, not with swaggering bravado and a subtext of “look how tortured and cool I am”, but with humility, sense and, often, bleak humour.”
And that’s a valid point. Depression is sometimes fantacised about, when adorning ‘celebrities’. Kurt Cobain‘s broodiness has become that of legend; as has Elliot Smith‘s. Commonly coming out in lyrics and musical tones, depression in an ‘artist’s’ work can be a thing of beauty; but it’s not something used to create an image of ‘coolness’. This is purely how they can let their emotions out. Often with black humour, Cobain‘s depression and eventual suicide has been romanticized thousands of times, and negatively shown by the media in its influence on fans. The media’s coverage of depression and suicide has always been a blame game and a warning for copycats. I don’t for a second believe that in any of their lives, Cobain, Edwards, or Smith condoned suicide in anyway. It was inevitably, just their final escape. Listening back to particularly negative songs by these artists, I don’t feel an urge to act upon how they’re feeling. My depression is just that: mine, and as such, hearing someone else speak about theirs doesn’t encourage me to hurt or damage myself. If that was the case then nobody ever should tell anyone else negative feelings, just incase they replicate them.
One of my all time favourite films, Garden State deals particularly well with Depression and numbness. It doesn’t romanticize any of the films themes, but is instead an exploration of an individual with such a mindset. The same with Donnie Darko. Zach Braff isn’t saying ‘hey kids, this is how you’re supposed to act if you want to be cool, and posey, and you need to be depressed’, he’s merely showing a cinematic experience of how depression affects other people.
The less likely man of comedy to commit suicide in 2014 actually did; and it hit film fans, critics and students pretty hard. Robin Williams death brought out an entirely different side to him that not many people knew. His darkness unfortunately took over and he thought the best option was suicide. This has created a huge dialogue on whether depression should be an acknowledged thing, publicly. Shortly after this, countless other actors announced their depression.
It seems to be a buzzword these days – a red light. But it’s our attitude towards those with depression, and our expectations of their lives, and persona that need to change. ‘outting’ yourself as a depressive shouldn’t be a negative thing. Accepting weakness’ is what makes us stronger. While I’m not saying depression should be ‘celebrated’, it should at least be talked about, and vented through film and music. 4REAL.
So what we need to do is keep this dialogue going, and in turn, hopefully we can stop more ‘closet depressives’ from taking their lives with no such knowledge of their struggles from the wider community.
I AM GEORGE BUXEY, AND I HAVE DEPRESSION.
It’s that easy