Blimey week 8 in the battle to get our industry to recognise and accept really that 1 in 3 of 'us' are susceptible to Mental Health issues. It can't be any coincedence that everytime I speak to someone about the campaign they have a story to share about a performer or technician with mental health issues. I am regularly fielding emails and telephone calls about some crises or another, with people wanting to check how to deal with certain situations, or people have come across someone that needs help and they don't know what to do.
Let's be clear - I'm a musician not a mental health expert, so that's all I can do is signpost people to the real help, but it does go to show that there are many conversations to be had which people just don't know how to start.
I came up with the charter idea because I'm always amazed at how small our industry is. Befriend a cast member on FB and you instantly have 50 or more mutual friends. We're not 6 degrees from people, we're practically next door! However using that to our advantage, we could distribute the charter quickly, and people could hopefully start the conversations sooner rather than later.
I believe that we're a supportive industry. I believe that we love an underdog and celebrate their success. This year has been the year of the Understudy hasn't it? They've all suddenly blossomed in the wings and gone centre stage. As an industry we have loved these stories.
However there is the other side of 'us', the side that ironically can't wait to spread bad news too. I blogged about this last year when Idina Menzel hit 'that' note during 'those' celebrations. Why were 'we' so quick to share, laugh, and judge? Have 'we' never made a mistake? Surely we were just lucky that our bum notes weren't filmed/recorded and shared around social media?
Which brings me to the 'share' of the moment....some You Tube clips that don't flatter the performer at all. Cue performers all jumping on the 'how dare they cast them' band wagon, pointing out that someone else should have had 'that' job. But why? Why do we take a pleasure in sharing something that's not good? Do we comment on the musicians playing so well behind the singer? Of course not. Yet they have to tolerate this clip being shared. People are popping up JPGs of the sheet music of that particular song as if that's going to make a difference. Basically I'm asking why we feel the need to put somebody in the social media 'stocks'? Especially when we have substantial evidence that tells us that the performer in question is vulnerable?
We could discuss until the cows come home whose fault it is that the songs are being performed in this way? Is it the producer, the casting director, the director, the performer...the list goes on....but why are we so keen to spread humiliation? What are we getting out of it?
We're all entitled to an opinion, look at me blogging away spouting out my rubbish in a bid to make you think about mental health and encouraging systemic thinking as opposed to linear.
Next time you share 'that clip' haven't you just turned into the school ground bully?
My rule of thumb is only tweet or comment on a thing if you'd be prepared to sit down and discuss the issue with the person involved, using the exact same words as I've just written. Would you sit with this performer and tell them how poor you think that they are, and tell them that you consider them worthless? Or would you sit with the producer and ask them what they were doing?
It's #time4change Mental Health matters. Remember we can all read your tweets. By 6 degrees of separation (and with a poor FB security setting ) we can also read your comments. It's #time4change. Let's not be that industry eh? Please...
The Campaign: http://althomasmd.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/its-time4change.html?m=1