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A Closer Look at Pop Culture and Mental Health

DISCLAIMER: There are many points of views on this topic. This is not the end all be all for my expertise on mental health. This is simply my perspective on what I learned in 2020. I welcome many different points of view into making this known and crushing this stigma.

To ease any confusion, the reason there is a picture of Michael Rosenbaum is to shamelessly plug his podcast Inside of You with Michael Rosenbaum. Before I lose anyone, I have to thank his podcast for showing so much insight and warmth. I was browsing through twitter one day back in 2017 and sometimes I like to see what my favorite actors are up to. We’ve all done it. I was thinking about Smallville, my favorite show of all time, and found Michael Rosenbaum’s pinned tweet of him and his co star at the time,Tom Welling, talking. That is how I found out he had a podcast and wasted no time listening to the episode. I was blown away at how Tom was open to talk about his time on Smallville and how hard it was working on the show at times while delving into personal topics like his tumultuous first marriage. It was just two friends talking and it was amazing. I enjoyed the Dax Shepard and Chris Hardwick episodes, and then along came Zachary Levi.

It was then I realized what this was about. Its not just an entertaining conversation. It’s heartfelt, real, and vulnerable. Years before, Jared Padlecki was very vocal about a dark time; his struggles with depression and launched the Always Keep Fighting campaign. After Zachary Levi’s moving conversation about his rocky relationship with his mother and his first marriage and how he had dealt with doubt, worth, love and fame, it dawned on me.

It’s nice to enjoy great tv shows and movies, and to see the actors play these wonderful characters. You see them on interviews, red carpets, press conferences, short form interviews and talk shows and it is all promotional glitz and glamour. We admire them for their talent, personality and we feel their fame is well earned.

But we are not aware of what happens when they are out of the public eye. Every actor has to unwind and get away from the noise. Acting is a lot of work, from filming, to promoting, to traveling, to conventions. You are constantly away from home. At times we see most actors as rich, famous, and distant, but on Rosenbaum’s podcast that is all stripped away to reveal how human Levi is. Beneath the money and fame, Levi is a human being. He is allowed to feel sad, happy, uncertain , and scared, just like the rest of us.

I have watched so many conventions on Youtube where somebody is overcome with emotion because they have been changed by a film or TV project their favorite actor was in. They were at a low point in their life and what a character went through helped them be the best version of themselves in their own lives. For Zachary Levi, I had no doubt that many people were moved and inspired. Wow Shazam was willing to put himself out there. Wow Flynn Ryder has a bad day. Wow Zachary Levi went through something I kind of went through and if he was able to overcome it maybe i can too.

I get so much insight from the tv shows I watch; Yes they are fictional characters but the emotions they experience when dealing with something in their life and how they rise up and above. I am moved …

Aang finding the courage to be brave when facing injustice in the world or when he feels lost and alone when Appa goes missing

The Teen Titans try to be the best versions of themselves when facing enemies or seeing Robin when he needs to be reminded that he is never alone

When Aunt May tells Peter Parker there is a hero in all of us, that the good we do matters even when the whole world weighs down you

When Robin Williams tells Matt Damon he has worth and value in Good Will Hunting when he spent years covering his pain

When Bruce Wayne rises up from the cave in the Dark Knight Rises

I can go on and on: I am reminded how time and time again the arts can have a truly emotional impact of our lives.

Recently Stephen Amell made a second appearance on Rosenbaum’s podcast and he had an anxiety attack and had to leave the show early. The guy who played Green Arrow. Yep same guy. What a humbling moment for a fan like me. Most people see Amell as the hooded hero but he is a human being like the rest of us. Being on a hit show and the rigorousness work that comes with that can take a toll mentally and Amell was able to finish the podcast and be open about it.

Heck Tony Stark suffered an anxiety attack in Iron Man 3 once he realized aliens existed and Rocky had a rough road back after his fight with Ivan Drago

For Justin Bieber to be famous at 15 years old and for his career to skyrocket faster than a speeding bullet. All the money, fame, power, and acting opportunites, Most were quick to slam Bieber’s name when he made some unfortunate choices in his personal life. Now I did not condone his behavior but there are countless teenagers that have acted out of turn, Bieber just has many eyes watching him. I was able to sit back and wait for Bieber to open up. Believe gave us some insight during the noise marathon, His Youtube mini series Seasons gave us insight into stepping away from his tour to recharge. Justin Bieber being open during a Jimmy Fallon interview and then his music video Lonely and Holy

As a black man in 2020 , I felt like I was in the Sunken Place; Black Lives Matter protests, the silenced voices, Chadwick Boseman….I am reminded of John Boyega’s powerful speech speaking truth to the heavens and beyond. The pain, the sorrow, the anguish speaking on years and years and years and years and years of injustice and seeing the will of Black men and women broken to its core. He is hurting and he refuses to let it control him. Take a look at Kelly Marie Tran’s New York Times article. Sorry Haters, you cant drag her down

After the tragic death of Hana Kimura, a trailblazer in women’s wrestling, we must be better at celebrating the underdog.

Be curious not judgmental.

Walt Whitman

We need to celebrate those who want to achieve greatness no matter color, gender, sexual orientation, hobbies. If a child from anywhere in the world sees Natalie Portman in Thor and wants to be an astronomer lets celebrate that. Let’s support women being excellent in whatever field they want to pursue. Lets start telling anyone who is BIPOC and LBGTQ:

THEY MATTER

THEY ARE LOVED

THEY ARE EXCELLENT

THEY CAN ACHIEVE WONDERS

NEVER GIVE UP

THEY DESERVE A PLACE IN HOLLYWOOD, BOOKS, MUSIC, MEDICINE , TECH ENGINEERING, ETC ETC

LET’S support them

Take it from actor Mark Ruffalo winner of 2020 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie

It’s a story that’s common throughout so much of the US and the world today and it asks a big question – how are we going to deal and honour and take care of each other and our most vulnerable people?”

We do that with love and compassion and by fighting for them. That’s what we have to do today – we have to come together with love for each other and, if you have privilege, you have to fight for those who are less fortunate and more vulnerable. That’s what’s great about America – our diversity. The one thing I’ve learned from my family – it’s that we are stronger together when we love each other and we respect each other’s diversity. So we have a big important moment ahead of us. Are we going to be a country of division and hatred and a country only for a certain kind of people, or are we going to be one of love and strength and fighting so all of us have the American dream and the pursuit of life and love and happiness in this great country of ours

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