Hey guys! Welcome to ‘The Vocal Hub’. For my first post I have decided to look at sadness and how it is perceived within our society. Although this isn’t a very happy post, as you could probably tell by the somewhat morbid title, I think it is a really important.
The inspiration for this post came when I was in a shop over the Christmas holidays. There was a women in the shop, looking very dishevelled and distressed. She was fumbling about amongst the ‘Frozen’ merchandise looking for an Elsa doll. Despite there being plenty of Anna dolls, she insisted to the shop assistant that her daughter would only want Elsa. This got me thinking, despite Anna arguably been the main role within the film, it seems she takes a back seat to her sister, Elsa. This doesn’t seem odd when one considers that Elsa has magically powers because, let’s face it, who doesn’t want magic powers? However, these magical powers result in her becoming isolated, paranoid and very uncomfortable in social situations. In contrast to her fun loving sister, with whom young girls should surely relate with more, Elsa is pessimistic and her dignity means her missing out on all the fun. Her sister, on the other hand, oozes optimism. She sacrifices her dignified persona for fun and adventure and is, undeniably, extremely brave. Now, you may think that I am looking into this way too much, however, does it not seem that the concept of sadness or loneliness is considered as parallel today to an attractive mystery? There seems to be pressure on children from a young age to be an Ice Queen or King, rather than letting their hair down and having fun.
This glamorisation of sadness is something that I have witnessed a lot recently, particularly in novels where suicidal or miserable characters are idolised for these qualities rather than been supported and helped to overcome the battles they are facing. Being sad is not something that we should strive for, it is something that we should try to avoid. Of course, avoiding sadness completely is impossible, but when isolation and loneliness is mistaken for mystery and dignity, are we been forced into becoming sadder just to be deemed socially acceptable? This is a particularly scary thought when we consider that now 1 in 4 people are suffering from some sort of mental illness (find out more here). I have also noticed this theme in songs, where singers are preaching how they have turned to drug and alcohol to deal with their sadness and misery temporarily. Having this message pounding through our headphones surely cannot be healthy.
I accept that it is important for us to hear about sad events that take place, but every time I turn on my television I am smacked in the face with misery. Although we have to be aware of what is going on in the world, I refused to believe it can all be doom and gloom. I mean, have you seen ‘Love Actually’? Just head to Heathrow and you’ll see happiness and love everywhere but, as Hugh so eloquently says, it isn’t news worthy. It seems that if something is positive and we see someone doing something inspirational and brave, just as Anna does, it does not deserve to be put on the news apart from on the very rare occasion. Maybe we are expected just to know that love really is all around us, but in a world where everything is so sad, that can be pretty hard. Just logging onto Facebook, you see young girls and boys sharing quotes about being heartless and how this is something they strive to be. Being heartless and cold is not a trait we should aim for and it should not be promoted on the internet as, unfortunately, people (particularly young people) can be extremely impressionable. There is nothing wrong with feelings, dignified or not. There isn’t anything wrong with doing something that makes you happy and letting your hair down. Be reckless and have fun. Yeah, sure Anna made a mistake falling in love so quickly, but that ability to be optimistic and hopeful is something that gave the character so much joy, it should not be overlooked. Yeah, maybe Elsa did ‘Let it Go’ but, let’s be honest, the cold bothers all of us and when it does we don’t want to be on our own. In the end, it was the optimism and love of Anna that saved her life.
I realise I have probably milked the ‘Frozen’ metaphor a little, but I feel like it reflects perfectly this idea of a society that worships sadness. When this is considered, it is no wonder that mental health issues are becoming more and more common. Mental illness is not an aesthetic and should not be taken lightly, but spoken about in any other way seems to bring with it stigma. People seem to look at people differently when they know they suffer from a mental illness. This should not be the case, it should be talked about but it should be talked about for what it really is- something that we should all try our best to eradicate or at least try and help people in the best ways we can. It can be hard to know how to approach mental health issues, but just talking to someone could be all that it takes. If there was a greater understanding, I feel like society as a whole would approach the idea of ‘sadness’ in a very different way. Making sure people have a greater understanding is something that is undeniably difficult due to the stigma that society has created, however, with effort and education this can be overcome. If you want any more support on these issues, whether that be for yourself or to help someone else, I would recommend taking a look at the Mind website. Mind is a great charity that has been big on Warwick campus so far this year, with myself and many others supporting it during RAG week.
What many don’t understand is that mental illnesses are exactly that, illnesses.
I would be really interested to hear what you guys thought about this, so either comment below or get in touch with us on twitter (@thevocalhub) and let me know your thoughts.
Jamie Lee Jenkins (@JenkinsLeeJamie)