I bet you won’t be surprised to hear that epilepsy is most often depicted in sci-fi and horror films.
Just think of “The Andromeda Strain”, “Crazed”, “Deadwood”, “The Exorcist”, “The Exorcism of Emily Rose”, “Frankenstein”, “The Garden State”, “Lighthouse” and “The Terminal Man” to name a few.
DEMONIC = EPILEPTIC!
A survey of 62 international films that deal with epilepsy, found the condition is still commonly linked with demonic or divine possession, genius, lunacy, and delinquency.
Sadly,“For many people, their recollection of a character ‘faking a seizure’ at the movies may be their only reference point on hearing the diagnosis [of epilepsy],” writes researcher Sallie Baxendale of the Institute of Neurology in London.
Researchers also found that there is strong gender bias in how epilepsy is depicted on the silver screen.
Male characters with epilepsy were frequently portrayed as mad, bad, and dangerous, as in the film “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”.
Female characters are used to add exotic intrigue and vulnerability, such as Elina in the American comedy “Simple Men.”
Then there are heroes like in “The Idiot”, gang leaders in “The Life of Jesus” and dwarves!
In “Snow White”, Dopey appears to have a nocturnal seizure. (Nice, huh?)
Oliver Stone’s “JFK”, implicates a person with seizures as the presidential assassin.
Movie characters with epilepsy are frequently mad, bad, or dangerous, with demonic possession, lunacy, idiocy, and divine revelation as regular features.
Directors use seizures as a tool to drive the narrative…enhance major character traits…add to minor characters…and create distraction from other action.
They’re also used to enhance the overall mood of a particular genre…evoke emotional involvement from the audience…and enhance the voyeuristic experience of the film audience.
The characters are pretty stereotyped, if you think about it.
There’s the dramatic, exciting, frightening character (always a crowd pleaser).
One who’s possessed – from being divine to needing exorsism. The mad, bad, and dangerous men to be wary of.
The exotic, vulnerable, victimized women.
Basically, characters with epilepsy portrayed as one dimensional characters. Black or white. Good or bad.
Don’t you think it would be wonderful if someone did a real GOOD, true-to-life documentary on epilepsy?
Like Tiffany Webb’s “The Sacred Disease” http://www.sacreddisease.com/. Which is, not surprising, in need of funding.
Or maybe we should get together and do a film called “Those Crazy Epileptics” with foaming mouths, thrashing bodies, demon doctors, you know the whole works.
Think of how much money we could make!
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