Netflix viewers are slamming Bird Box for its "demonisation" of mental illness

31 December 2018, 10:51

By Sam Prance

Is Bird Box about mental health?

There's no question that Bird Box is one of Netflix's biggest films of 2018. The streaming platform may have only released the new Sandra Bullock led horror film mere days ago, but the movie has dominated social media (the memes are everything) and also become Netflix's most streamed film ever in a seven day period. Bird Box was viewed by a whopping 45,037,125 accounts in its first week of release.

Will there be a Bird Box sequel on Netflix?

However, the hit movie hasn't come without criticism. Some people are upset that it didn't show viewers the actual monster, others are pressed by THAT ending and then there are those who think that it just did not live up to hype. Most serious of all though, people are calling out the film for its depiction of mental health and have been taking to social media to express their thoughts.

Does Bird Box stigmatise mental health?

The 'Bird Box' mental health stigma controversy explained
The 'Bird Box' mental health stigma controversy explained. Picture: Netflix

Bird Box is set in a dystopian future in which the world is overrun by an invisible species of monsters who make people kill themselves when they look directly at them. However, those in the film with mental illnesses aren't affected by the monsters in the same way as everyone else. Instead of committing suicide they're consumed with evil and help the monsters destroy humanity.

These characters include a store assistant who the group encounters on a grocery run. Charlie reveals that the man nicknamed, "Fish Fingers", went to prison and even refers to him as "a bit crazy". There is also a group of people who were patients at a psychiatric hospital. Considering that people with mental illnesses are still often portrayed as "crazy", this kind of depiction can be incredibly damaging and can lead to stigmas around mental health.

On top of this, the multiple graphic suicides in the film have been called out for being triggering to those who have ever had suicidal thoughts. With this in mind, it's no surprise that people are calling out the film.

Here are just a few of the criticisms.

It's easy to see why the film has offended some people.

Nevertheless, some viewers believe that the movie actually aims to raise awareness around mental health and suicide.

Is this a reach or a valid theory?

As it stands Netflix are yet to respond the backlash or theories. We shall update you if they do.

What do you think? Is Bird Box harmful in its depiction of mental illness or does it actually help raise awareness around mental health?