> Read the New York Times Review.
I love documentaries, especially documentaries on or related to mental illness. That being said, I was excited to watch "OC87" last night on Netflix. Upon seeing its tagline, "The Obsessive Compulsive, Major Depression, Bipolar, Asperger's Movie", I began to get the taste of excess drama in my mouth. IMDb users rated it at 6.6 out of 10 stars which isn't bad, so what did I really have to lose? Maybe I wasn't giving it a fair chance.
First of all, it's not a movie. I don't know how you can call a very insecure man trying to talk to a camera and sell the world on his problems "a movie", but apparently the "star" Buddy Clayman and many film critics do. I won't be too harsh, at least I'll try really hard not to be, because the man obviously has something wrong with him; however, I am having trouble seeing evidence of all of the illnesses listed in the tag line. Maybe one or two, but not all of them. He clearly had a nervous breakdown in 1987, thus the title, but does that mean he's been chronically ill since then?
I think Buddy's major problem is having been so sheltered all of his life. Everyone stroked his ego throughout high school, and as he neared the end of his college preparatory years, he became depressed when he had to face the real world. One thing Buddy said that was paramount to anything else said in the movie was, and I'm just giving you the gist of it here, that when he reached college and began to make films to be viewed by an audience of his professors and peers, they didn't clap and cheer for him anymore like he expected them to. Like they did in high school when he was their brand of funny. College peers and pros didn't like his work, and this sent him spiraling. He doesn't want to make films in fear of being criticized, and perhaps it would reveal that his skill level was that of a high school student and not a film student. Now, he doesn't like people telling him what to do, doesn't like being controlled, and has a general disapproval for people. Ideations of harming the people he thinks may be judging him seem to be the essence of his diagnoses. I realize that his obsession and fear of acting on these thoughts makes it a problem, but is this obsession anything that a few friends and a hobby couldn't cure? Either Buddy has tried never tried either of these two obvious suggestions, or he tried them and failed miserably. Mom and dad can't bail you out of that. I couldn't help but asking aloud to myself, "are you kidding me?"
The folks who nominated or awarded this film with prizes and accolades must live lives that were never touched by mental illness. Or, they have, but a privileged version of mental illness. I can't criticize this documentary too much because, as I've heard in my therapist's office, everyone's experience with illness and disease is different, and everyone has a different bottom. I guess I just had a lot further to fall than Buddy Clayman did. When I fell, there was nothing and no one to break my fall. Boring and pointless moments (as described by Badass Digest) aside, all the poignant and intimate scenes - or scenes that were supposed to be poignant and intimate - came off as a man with a camera and a lot of hot air. I don't know that I'd discourage other people living with mental illness from watching this film, because one thing it did do was to make me feel a lot stronger for having to walk the dark and lonely path I did.
It does take courage to document an illness or four for everyone to see. I guard my story like jewelry stores guard their diamonds. You don't normally see a a first hand account like this because individuals really struggling with their diagnoses are worried about maintaining stability, not letting everyone in on their secret because they need the attention. In the end, I question the validity of the diseases or illnesses Buddy Clayman has been diagnosed with. I wonder how much money is paid to the doctor or doctors involved with Buddy's case, and if another doctor would have a difference of opinion. I know my doctor wouldn't coddle him the way we see it in OC87. Buddy's case begs the question, "does Buddy's treatment team want him to get better?"
If he does become stabilized, that's a significant decrease in a reliable source of income. Sure, he's still need regular therapy, but not as much or as often as he does now. Even with the ups and downs I'd venture a guess that several million dollars have been paid to doctors and therapists trying to find out what's wrong with Buddy. An opinion that's widely debated is the mere existence of mental illness and the efficacy of psychotropic drugs. If a patient is told long enough by a medical professional that he or she has a mental illness, that patient takes on the symptoms of the illness whether or not it's actually present.
In addition to that thought, one must take into consideration what is classified as a mental disease or disorder by the powers that be in the field of psychiatry. The DSM, or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders still lists headaches as a mental illness and used to include homosexuality. If you can diagnose a person as having a mental illness or disorder, no matter how severe, you can bill his or her insurance company as long as there is a code for it in the DSM. As I stated earlier, there is clearly something that's not right with Buddy, but I think a reevaluation should have been done before he made a movie called "OC87: The Obsessive Compulsive, Major Depression, Bipolar, Asperger's Movie". It should have been more honestly titled "I Don't Know What's Wrong With Me: The Maybe-I'm-Just-Weird Movie".