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Mental health is all in good fun
January 27, 2013 6:36 PM   Subscribe

this post seems problematic to me.
posted by bq to Etiquette/Policy at 6:36 PM (66 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

It would be helpful to us if you could maybe explain why you find it problematic enough to warrant a MetaTalk thread.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:39 PM on January 27, 2013 [9 favorites]


Yeah. The lack of specific request is problematic to me.
posted by TangerineGurl at 6:40 PM on January 27, 2013


that post seems perfect to me.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 6:43 PM on January 27, 2013


A lot of people disagree with you. Tons of constructive comments. Quite a few people favorited the thread. It's not editorializing. Seems like a fine thread to me.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:46 PM on January 27, 2013


If it gets up to bassomatic the mods will step in.
posted by fleacircus at 6:53 PM on January 27, 2013


While, I can see where comedy/mental health has a social line and perhaps you think this is over the top.

If you are like me, and judge a book by it's cover, go directly to Ep 13: Oh - CD Heh.
posted by TangerineGurl at 6:54 PM on January 27, 2013


Perhaps you could expand?
posted by trip and a half at 6:55 PM on January 27, 2013


Metafilter is not wikipedia.
Sometimes there are factual errors in posts that are corrected in the discussion further down.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:56 PM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just ate a piece of pie, I am so expanding right now.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:57 PM on January 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I assume it's the mental-health-problem-no-not-really aspect. Sort of put a bad taste in my mouth, too, but meh.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:02 PM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Posts like this sometimes make me feel that MetaTalk should always operate in queue mode, holiday style.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 7:04 PM on January 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


I assume it's the mental-health-problem-no-not-really aspect.

Can you explain this phrase? I'm sorry, I haven't read the post extensively, but I'm already familiar with the bulk of its links and I don't recall her problems being in any way "no-not-really" so I think maybe I'm misunderstanding you.

I figured maybe the MeTa OP thought the post was making a spectacle of an illness or something, which I really don't think is the case, but I can at least understand someone thinking so. Ms Bamford has tended to bring her illness very much to the forefront of her material recently, in a way that is often uncomfortable.
posted by shmegegge at 7:07 PM on January 27, 2013


The only thing problematic about this post is how much time I'm gonna sink into watching this awesome web series.
posted by pwally at 7:10 PM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Bammer is a bipolar II:
Did turning 40 in the last year faze you?

I got surprisingly depressed. I was very surprised that success in my career didn't translate to peace of mind. In by 40th year, my depression meds stopped working, I was re-diagnosed (after a three-day stay at the hospital) as Bipolar II, and have experienced some real joy since, [as I am in] an outpatient program with cognitive behavioral tools. So, that said, it fazed me completely. (source)
So the post is fine, if a bit understandably confusing on the "is this real/is she making fun of mental illness" question.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:18 PM on January 27, 2013


The post in question seems incredibly un-problematic to me.

Also, I hate it when people post shoddy callouts and then disappear. You start a thread and maybe it's a good idea to stick around a bit, you know?
posted by Justinian at 7:18 PM on January 27, 2013 [12 favorites]


I assume it's the mental-health-problem-no-not-really aspect. Sort of put a bad taste in my mouth, too, but meh.

I haven't been following Maria Bamford but the impression I have is that she is really-actually bipolar. Was I mistaken?
posted by pullayup at 7:21 PM on January 27, 2013


It seems like the sort of a situation where if she didn't have a mental illness it would be crass and bigoted for her to touch on certain scenarios/jokes, so understandably, some people who don't know too much about her are going to get het up about the whole thing.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:26 PM on January 27, 2013


Also, I hate it when people post shoddy callouts and then disappear. You start a thread and maybe it's a good idea to stick around a bit, you know?

I'd like to assume a little more good faith in the poster than that. This is a touchy subject.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:35 PM on January 27, 2013


I did not find it problematic.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:37 PM on January 27, 2013


Diablevert is summing up the issue and responding to it very well right here (I'm guessing).

I am enjoying the post, and see no problem with it.
posted by Brody's chum at 7:50 PM on January 27, 2013


I didn't care for the fact that the FPP presented as a true fact the story that she had a breakdown and walked off the stage and ended up selling clock radios in Detroit.

Things were clarified in the comments, but still.
posted by leahwrenn at 7:51 PM on January 27, 2013 [12 favorites]


Thanks leahwrenn. That was my problem.
posted by bq at 7:54 PM on January 27, 2013


Well, it certainly would have helped to know that, since the MeTa was completely opaque without it, and I still have no idea what it's all about.
posted by unSane at 8:04 PM on January 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I didn't care for the fact that the FPP presented as a true fact the story that she had a breakdown and walked off the stage and ended up selling clock radios in Detroit.

I felt similarly about it. Not in a "Oh then we should delete it" way but more in a "Hey man not cool" way.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:12 PM on January 27, 2013 [11 favorites]


The idea that there is a market for clock radios on the streets of Detroit was just so ludicrous to me that it never even crossed my mind that it wasn't a joke. I am puzzled as to how this isn't clear to everyone.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:16 PM on January 27, 2013 [10 favorites]


Still, it seems believable enough. When you're planning a psychotic episode, market research isn't exactly the top priority.
posted by Lorin at 8:38 PM on January 27, 2013 [20 favorites]


Can you explain this phrase? I'm sorry, I haven't read the post extensively, but I'm already familiar with the bulk of its links and I don't recall her problems being in any way "no-not-really" so I think maybe I'm misunderstanding you.

Sorry, what leanwrenn said: I didn't care for the fact that the FPP presented as a true fact the story that she had a breakdown and walked off the stage and ended up selling clock radios in Detroit.

I am puzzled as to how this isn't clear to everyone.

I dunno, maybe there's a big market for clock radios in the chunks of Detroit that they aren't thinking about turning into farmland.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:11 PM on January 27, 2013


Well if there was a market for artisanal clock radios sold by independent street vendors then she wouldn't be homeless and no one would call her crazy, right?
posted by miyabo at 9:11 PM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


If the OP said Portland, that would have been a different matter.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:23 PM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Could the post be edited? The material in the post is very-FPP-worthy - lots of great links. But I agree that It Was Not Cool to neglect to mention, at least in a footnote after the jump, that Maria Bamford was not selling clock radios on the street.
posted by maryr at 9:24 PM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's an old post from 2007 that goes to the (now dead site) where these shows were originally posted. I must have skipped over the "clock radios" part of the opening text on the first one, because I took it at face value that she was exhausted / broken down, went back home, then started making videos because hell, she was still a comic and that's what she does.

In addition, she was on the CBC's The Debaters recently and talked about her manic-depression, so this just reinforced my belief that she coped with a really bad time by going back home and making performances out of the relief/stress of being back home.

Yes, I can be that credulous.

So this recent post had me doing a double take because CLOCK RADIOS? -- but as I read through it and realized the comic conceit, I deducted points from myself for being credulous and gave points to Toeskneesan for making a great post and to everyone in the thread who contributed to it.

The post is good. The thread is good. I don't see any need to change either. (OK, maybe if people are really concerned about deception, swap most of the opening text from the FPP for direct quotes, with quotation marks, from the first video. Precedent.)
posted by maudlin at 9:55 PM on January 27, 2013


(Oh, crap: the correct term is bipolar disorder, not manic-depression. Sorry!)
posted by maudlin at 10:00 PM on January 27, 2013


Why not put a note akin to NSFW, i.e.: [FICTION]?

I mean, this isn't really Mike Daisy-level deception, but it's kind of the same problem: it's not so much fiction presented as fact as statements made without any concern for fact or fiction. (The technical term for that is "bullshit" by the way.) The story was good, so Toekneesan told it. It was better without the frame of fiction, so he told it without the frame.

The idea that there is a market for clock radios on the streets of Detroit was just so ludicrous to me that it never even crossed my mind that it wasn't a joke. I am puzzled as to how this isn't clear to everyone.

People try to sell random shit. They sell candles and incense and books on conspiracies. It's just a way of begging that won't get you locked up. I could see "table full of junk including clock radios" getting turned into "selling clock radios" for effect, but as a post hoc surrealization of an actual event rather than a comedic account of how people with mental illnesses are cray-cray.

And that's the point: if you read it as a true story, which the FPP invites, you'll be misled. I got to the post via the Metatalk post, and since it was undeleted, I figured it was a true story with some troublesome exploitation to it. Why not remove all doubt with a nice tag?
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:45 PM on January 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


I didn't read the post in the first place because it had an emoticon in the title*, but on looking at it now I'm not enjoying the fact that nowhere in the post was it stated that this was fictional. That's even more distasteful than the emoticon.

I can understand that the original framing of the series made it clear these were not true accounts, but the structure of the post did tend to lean on the 'ha ha mental illness' side of the spectrum as a kind of gotcha. It's an interesting-sounding show, but the post put me off wanting to explore it, which I assume is the opposite of the poster's intent.

The idea that there is a market for clock radios on the streets of Detroit was just so ludicrous to me that it never even crossed my mind that it wasn't a joke. I am puzzled as to how this isn't clear to everyone.

I'd not assume it was a joke if I'd come to it without this MeTa. I'd assume it was a) a scam she was running to evade whatever panhandling laws existed in Detroit or b) something arising from her mental illness or c) all of the above.

* we all have our quirks
posted by winna at 10:50 PM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you're going to get bothered enough by the post to make a Meta out of it, it behooves you to read the comment of the original poster that made it clear they thought this breakdown was real, had happened and that therefore the post was made in good faith.

Not that it would've been all that bothersome if the poster had been aware; fiction isn't lying and I'd argue that anybody who (like y.t.) who was fooled by the description would've been quickly enlightened when acvtually looking at the source material.

On neither Maria Bamford, nor Toekneesan's part was there a intention to deceive people, though the former did fictionalise her own experiences. Is mental illness of any kind now so sacred you can't do that anymore?
posted by MartinWisse at 11:06 PM on January 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


...I am puzzled as to how this isn't clear to everyone.

This is where La Rochefoucauld meets David Hannum.
posted by y2karl at 2:41 AM on January 28, 2013


I mention it a couple of times in the thread, but I'll do it again here. In researching this I discovered she's gone back to her parents a couple of times and been institutionalized, but I didn't discover that was after she created the series, not before. She actually created the series to deal with her fears about it happening and I hadn't come across that. I took the text in the first video as true. But I'm gullible, and I also wasn't trying to do investigative journalism. The description I gave was the one Super Deluxe used in the very first video to explain the show. I thought it was real. I also took it as more authoritative than her characters turning on her in the the last episode and saying she made the whole thing up. If I was a family member of hers, I would want her to say that, true or not. I wasn't trying to fool anyone. I was fooled, and then I posted. I honestly didn't intend to deceive. There was an honesty in her work that I think kind of blinded me to the fact that it was a creative work. Sorry about that.

This has been a very weird experience. I've never had a post so popular yet so enraging to people. I'm really glad a lot of new people could see this work, and I secretly hope they all buy Maria's new show The Special Special Special and support her, but I feel simply terrible that people got upset by the fact that I didn't realize that the premise of the 2006 series was a fabrication. I also feel kind of dumb. The show was on the blue before, and I found that, but was shocked no one mentioned her mental illness. I should have figured I got something wrong by discovering that omission.

Anyway, I hope that helps. Maybe I'll just stick to SLYT in the future and leave the megaposts to the professionals.
posted by Toekneesan at 3:50 AM on January 28, 2013 [11 favorites]


I've added a fiction tag, though kind of reluctantly. There is so much truth in her work that it isn't at all what I think of when I think of fiction. But if it makes others feel more comfortable with the post, I suppose it doesn't hurt anything.
posted by Toekneesan at 4:50 AM on January 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


BTW, though of us who live with, or have lived with the mentally ill might not find selling clock radios on the streets of Detroit quite the slam dunk signifier that it was all made-up as others have.
posted by Toekneesan at 4:56 AM on January 28, 2013 [12 favorites]


I don't actually see anyone who seems to be enraged.
posted by Too-Ticky at 4:58 AM on January 28, 2013


Good point, perhaps upset is a better word choice.
posted by Toekneesan at 5:01 AM on January 28, 2013


Thanks to the Meta OP for posting this call out. It helped me find a fantastic post that I had overlooked.
posted by double block and bleed at 5:32 AM on January 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


You're a mensch, Toekneesan.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:06 AM on January 28, 2013 [8 favorites]


I've never had a post so popular yet so enraging to people.

You'll get used to it. I thought it was a good post. Everyone likes their fiction clearly marked these days. I think its a reaction to the increasing unreality/hyperreality of the world. This, along with our obsession with "authenticity," is the era's defining aesthetic. or is it mashup culture?

People like their neat categories, little filing cabinets of the mind, and we don't deal well with ambiguity.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:55 AM on January 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


As a bipolar II dude I find "manic-depressive" more expressive and less offensive in a way but don't care too much one way or the other. I was taken initially by the post but got skeptical once I found myself explaining the premise out loud to my wife. Then once I determined it wasn't true I didn't really think of it as a post-framing issue; rather the post left the frame as is and sometimes we bipolar folks can be a little rough around the edges when it comes to getting a rise out of people and using hyperbole to diminish the pain that makes life otherwise seem like a very mean sort of joke. This fiction doesn't come off as a mean joke, but how do you say "no really I could be that person" without proving it in spite...
posted by lordaych at 8:08 AM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, shit. Who needs some discount clock radios?
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:59 AM on January 28, 2013


As a bipolar II dude I find "manic-depressive" more expressive and less offensive in a way but don't care too much one way or the other

As I recall, Kay Redfield Jameson, who is a leading bipolar researcher and has bipolar disorder herself, also prefers the term "manic-depression" as being more clearly descriptive of the condition. I'm not sure why the terminology changed, but I don't think it was because the earlier term was offensive, and there's good reason to keep using it.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 10:16 AM on January 28, 2013


If you want to call your self a bipolar, hey, I'm cool with that: but it irks me when people say "S/he is bipolar" Would you say She is breast cancer or he is a heart attack? Ok, now I'll go away quietly.
posted by SyraCarol at 10:58 AM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure why the terminology changed, but I don't think it was because the earlier term was offensive, and there's good reason to keep using it.

One could argue that it's because the ancient conception of "mania" (up there with "hysteria") is outmoded or because "manic" has become too loosely employed colloquially or because the overall psychological condition needed to be distinguished into bipolar disorder and cyclothymic disorder; but George Carlin's general explanation for linguistic shifts is funnier.
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:00 AM on January 28, 2013


Everyone likes their fiction clearly marked these days. I think its a reaction to the increasing unreality/hyperreality of the world. This, along with our obsession with "authenticity," is the era's defining aesthetic.

For me it’s not a question of the original work so much. I’m actually a big fan of that sort of "is it real or not". I’ll try to explain why the post bugged me.

I read the post, and asked if there was a text account since it sounded like an interesting story but I didn’t want to watch a bunch of videos. (The fact that there wasn’t should have given it away). I started watching the first video and in the first few seconds got the vibe that this was either a joke, a con, or a lie. But I didn’t like it so I turned it off. I read the post so I knew it wasn’t a joke. So now I think she’s a liar or a con and using her story of mental illness to those ends. I have a poor view of this woman at this point, for several reasons.

Then I glanced over the thread and saw someone mention that it’s not a true story. Now I’m irritated because the post appeared to deliberately mislead. The framing of the post was what bothered me. It’s one thing to not understand the whole story unless you watch the whole thing. It’s another to go around thinking this woman is an asshole unless you watch the whole thing because of the way it was framed.

It turns out the post was not deliberately misleading, the one posting was had been fooled by the video. If I had just watched more of the video or looked into it more I probably wouldn’t have been confused. There’s a big muddle with people confusing the question of the truth of the videos vs the framing of the post and people defending the posters artistic decision to frame it that way when that actually wasn’t their intent at all.

So it’s one big misunderstanding, like an especially unfunny sitcom.
posted by bongo_x at 11:06 AM on January 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm not put off by folks who identify "as a bipolar" or whatever. I usually use it as an adjective which also can come off similarly ("I am bipolar") but there is some comfort in explaining some of your more idiosyncratic behaviors with a simple adjective. And it certainly sounds better than "I suffer from / am afflicted by / am battling such and such disorder" even if it is a lifelong protracted battle against suicide.
posted by lordaych at 11:30 AM on January 28, 2013


I think its a reaction to the increasing unreality/hyperreality of the world.

This reminds me of Kevin Kelly's recent rumination: The Improbable is the New Normal.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 11:39 AM on January 28, 2013


A better analogy might be diabetes. "I am diabetic" doesn't mean "I am the disease and nothing more" but often does imply "I will be this way forever and you may or may not notice the signs of my affliction so, heads up." Efficient.
posted by lordaych at 11:52 AM on January 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


If you're going to get bothered enough by the post to make a Meta out of it, it behooves you to read the comment of the original poster that made it clear they thought this breakdown was real, had happened and that therefore the post was made in good faith.

Or maybe contribute more than twelve words total to your MeTa while you're at it. I find this far more 'problematic' than the OP.
posted by mintcake! at 12:27 PM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


But hugs if you just couldn't verbalize what rubbed you the wrong way and didn't mean to hurl a stinkbomb, I guess. It kind of felt like a stinkbomb.
posted by mintcake! at 12:36 PM on January 28, 2013


"The idea that there is a market for clock radios on the streets of Detroit was just so ludicrous to me that it never even crossed my mind that it wasn't a joke. I am puzzled as to how this isn't clear to everyone."

Hopefully enough people have answered you that you are no longer puzzled, but in case you're still puzzled: I've seen people here in Tokyo selling comic books. Umbrellas. Watches. Metal models of cars and guitars. Glowsticks. Maybe there's something about Detroit that makes it ludicrous to sell clock radios, but I've never been to Detroit, so how would I know?
posted by Bugbread at 2:20 PM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sorry. I am travelling. I couldn't figure out how to phrase my issue and I couldn't figure out if. There was anything actually wrong or if I was weird. Then I went into (ok, honesty time) a four hour roleplaying session followed by a cross country flight. With toddlers.

It's been a long day.
posted by bq at 5:58 PM on January 28, 2013


I didn't flag the post, but I didn't find it all too hard to find interviews where she explained that "No, I didn't have an actual breakdown that led to living on the streets of Detroit, selling clock radios". I figured the OP was acting in good faith, and he explained/apologized. I don't think Bamford being mean or exploitative, but I wish the FPP had be amended to explain, rather than leaving it up to the commenters to figure out what really happened. I googled "Bamford" + "breakdown" and every interview that explained the story came up. Not hard.
posted by Ideefixe at 6:32 PM on January 28, 2013


This is from the second link I got when I googled Bamford + Breakdown, from the 2006 Gothamist.
What was the pilot that turned into the book?
Plan B. I thought that I wanted to be on a sitcom for a long time. I had been able to audition, but I never got the parts I wanted or a major development deal. So I decided I'd get it out of my system and do it myself. The premise is that a thirty-five year old, slightly built, comedian suffers a nervous breakdown onstage at the Detroit Comedy Castle and is forced to move back in with her parents, which is something that sort of happened. I had somebody heckle me at the comedy club. A woman stood up and said, "I am so fucking bored. I am so sick of you and your voices? Is anyone else here bored? Why don't you bring the other guy on?" I prepared at all, so my knees started shaking, I got a bit teary eyed, and then I was fired. So, what happens is that I move home and play all of the characters. It's my worst fear of what would happen. My mom's like, "Honey, you can't live here. We love you, but it's hard to be around you." It's not a story of triumph by any means.
I may not be the only one who is confused about what happened.
posted by Toekneesan at 7:37 PM on January 28, 2013


But that's before she did the 2009 webseries, so it's not really relevant, unless you really want to believe that it all happened just the way she said it did. 2012 Slate interview, and Ann Arbor.com interview and NYT piece.
There's no confusion.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:48 PM on January 28, 2013


I linked to the Slate interview and read it, and the New York Times piece, but I don't find where she says she made-up having a breakdown in either one.

My only point with the quote above is that it is confusing. The line between an artist's life and work can sometimes be fuzzy. But yes, I'm still wrong.
posted by Toekneesan at 8:04 PM on January 28, 2013


Also, if the series ran in 2009, that isn't what the first video says. Episode one claims Maria sent them the first tape, not in 2009, but December of 2006. I'm not trying to change the fact that I goofed, I'm just saying it's all pretty confusing.
posted by Toekneesan at 8:13 PM on January 28, 2013


I have no idea who this person is, and I was intrigued - it sounded like some story - until the comments clarified that it was some kind of fictionalised version of the comedian's life, a kind of 'there but for the grace of God' thing, I think?

We don't all have time to do our own research on FPPs. I'm still trying to work out the plot of Moneyball here.
posted by mippy at 4:01 AM on January 29, 2013


bq, I chose to read that as a four-hour roleplaying session with toddlers. Sounds intense!
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:10 AM on January 29, 2013


The idea that there is a market for clock radios on the streets of Detroit was just so ludicrous to me that it never even crossed my mind that it wasn't a joke. I am puzzled as to how this isn't clear to everyone.

Clock radios sound like a relatively ordinary thing for someone to hawk on the street. Raw meat, last season's sneakers, expired bus passes, Jesus rugs, live cacti, old VHS tapes. Not having a market of buyers doesn't seem to stop people.
posted by yohko at 11:41 PM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Clock radios sound like a relatively ordinary thing for someone to hawk on the street.

Especially since most streets are fitted with electrical outlets into which clock radios can be plugged to see if they work.
posted by y2karl at 10:24 PM on January 31, 2013


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