Short 1Emily ShortMr. Lee BullockWRD111-03125 March 2013 Mental Illness Within The Perks of Being a Wallflower The novel and movie The Perks of Being a Wallflower was written and directed byStephen Chbosky, an American man of many talents. Chbosky is an "author, editor, screenwriter, and film director" (Thompson). His purpose of writing this specific novel was todemonstrate his support for gay rights as well as portray the controversial ideas of "drug use,homosexuality, and premarital sex" (Thompson). These topics play just a leading role in thenovel because they all lead to one main idea, mental illness. The ideas and events in the noveltrigger emotions ranging from sorrow and sympathy to joy and excitement within the maturereader. The novel became such a massive success that he allowed it to become a film and evenproduced and directed it himself. The trailer used to advertise the film presents the idea of ayoung man, Charlie, feeling like a loner and attempting to figure out what he should do toimprove his life experience and to "[deal] with his own mental illness" (IMDb). The movie trailer begins with a few bars of music that seems to be easy going and evenhappy. Then Charlies voice kicks in and he starts off by saying "dear friend" as he is shown onthe screen looking down in the reflection of a window (Chbosky). The camera is clearly at hisback, and the reflection makes it seem as if he is looking down at a desk where he may bewriting or typing. He continues on to explain that throughout the entire summer the only peoplehe has spoken with, mainly, are his family. As these words are spoken there is a scene whereCharlie is sitting on a bed that looks as if it is some sort of hospital bed and two people, who are
Short 2assumed to be part of his family, are sitting around the bed playing cards with him. Charliecontinues to speak, and is shown writing again, about how he does not always speak to peopleand he explains that he wants to change that this school year. This idea of Charlie sitting on a bedthat looks like a hospital bed and explaining how he wants to change leads to an idea that Charliemay be sick in some way. The viewer of the trailer does not know if it is physical or mentalillness, but it is very obvious that Charlie is staying in a place that is to assists the ill. As hespeaks about wanting to change the fact that he speaks to no one but his family the image of thishospital bed is on the screen which can lead to the idea that being ill in some way could possiblymake one an outcast. Throughout this scene the happy music continues to play, but after Charlieis flashed on the screen writing at his desk there is a moment of darkness and the music stops.Then his voice is heard saying "I really want to turn things around this year" which shows that heis not happy with the way his life has been going (Chbosky). The trailer moves forward showing scenes of students in the high school bullying himdue to his being a freshman. The scene demonstrates a good amount of commotion which putsacross to the viewer that he is frazzled and overwhelmed by the idea of high school. The happymusic continues while students are yelling, and Charlie is shown on the screen lookingvulnerable and nervous. He then has a conversation with one of his teachers. The teacher reachesout to Charlie and tells him that by making one friend on the first day he will be fine, but Charlieexplains his feeling that if his English teacher is his only friend that would be "sort ofdepressing" (Chbosky). The word "depressing" is used in this statement not literally meaningdepressing, but an over exaggeration of sad (Chbosky). Although Charlie did not truly mean"depressing" the word is now in the viewers mind and can begin to make connections back to thescene of Charlie in the hospital bed (Chbosky).
Short 3 Next, there is text that begins coming up on the screen. The first shot of text says "Charlienever stood out" and then he is shown standing up against a wall, alone in the shadows, at whatlooks like a school dance (Chbosky). Then a girl and boy who are dancing are shown looking atCharlie and he begins to start walking away from the wall and dancing himself. The next screenof text then comes up and states "until he found friends that let him in" (Chbosky). There areshots of Charlie at the dance, at a party with friends, and then a girl kneels down in front of himand says "welcome to the island of misfit toys" (Chbosky). The word "misfit" in this contextindicates that the people in this friend group are the people that do not fit in with any other friendgroup (Chbosky). Charlie seems to feel like and actually be one of those people, and is nowinvited to be friends with these people. Throughout all of these consecutive scenes, the peopleseem to be dressed up and either smiling or dancing. The next two scenes explain who the twopeople were that were dancing at the school dance who turn out to be "two seniors, Sam andPatrick, who welcome him to the real world" (IMDb). Text comes up saying "Patrick" withscenes of Charlie and Patrick following, then text saying "Sam" comes up with scenes of Charlieand Sam following (Chbosky). These scenes are identifying the new friends Charlie has madeand offering a look at how they interact. Following this evidence of Charlies new relationships the viewer is able to hear Charlieask "do you think if people knew how crazy you really were no one would ever talk to you?"which is followed by Sam and Patrick laughing as they sit at a table with Charlie (Chbosky).This question portrays the idea that Charlie feels that he has something wrong with him which isable to lead back to the beginning scene where he is in the hospital bed, when he uses the word"depressing" to his teacher, and when Sam uses the word "misfit" when welcoming him intotheir friend group (Chbosky). In response to Charlies question, Sam says to him "come on, lets
Short 4go be psychos together" which once again has an interesting word choice (Chbosky). Sam usesthe word "psycho" in this invitation not in a harmful or negative way, but in a way that meansshe feels that she is different too and that is something they can bond over (Chbosky). The subtlehints toward being abnormal all come together to form the idea that Charlie may have some kindof mental illness or problem. Soon after Sam invites Charlie to be "psycho" with her, Charlie is shown to be on whatlooks like a bridge with both Sam and Patrick (Chbosky). Patrick is holding a paper that has apaper marked with a giant "C-" on it (Chbosky). Patrick screams due to his excitement, and theyall celebrate the fact that he is "below average" (Chbosky). To this group of people beingabnormal is a good thing rather than weird or negative. They celebrate the things that make themdifferent from everyone else and this characteristic of this friend group demonstrates why Samrefers to them as the "misfit toys" (Chbosky). For the next portion of the trailer there are scenes of Charlie with his different friendshaving fun, laughing, and being happy. Then comes a scene where Patrick is standing in front ofCharlie with his arm stretched out holding a blue plastic cup as if he is going to propose a toast,and he does. His toast goes to Charlie. Patrick toasts to Charlie being a "wallflower" meaning hesees things and is not judgmental (Chbosky). In response to this toast Charlie smiles and states "Ididnt think anyone noticed me" which relates to the very beginning of the trailer (Chbosky).Charlie has struggled with not being social and lacking friends and he is now realizing that he isable to be himself and be surrounded with people that accept him for who he is. The rest of the trailer plays different scenes that show Charlie having fun with his friends,his friends being happy, Charlie dancing while listening to music in his room, and the lastmoving image in the trailer is Charlie standing in the bed of a truck with his hands up. As this
Short 5scene happens Charlies voice states "and in this moment, I swear, we are infinite" which isexactly how Charlie feels at that moment (Chbosky). His arms are up in the air with the windblowing against his body, he is with the friends that accept him for who he is, and he finally feelsalive. This final scene is one of the most important because it provides somewhat of a resolutionto the trailer and to all of the previous thoughts about Charlie possibly having a mental illness. Even though the trailer portrays the idea that Charlie may have a mental illness, it allowsthe audience to see this issue in a more positive light. At first it is shown that Charlie has hadissues previously in his life, but then it continues on to show that he is able to make new friendsand be accepted for who he is. I have conducted a survey that I posted on multiple socialnetworking cites and twenty nine people took it. Of the twenty nine people that took the survey,seven of them have seen the movie The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Five out of those sevenpeople explained that the movie portrayed mental illness in a positive way. The other two peoplebelieve that the movie portrays mental illness in a more negative way, but that number does notcompare to the number of people that believe that the media, overall, portrays mental illness in anegative way. All twenty nine people that took the survey were asked whether they believe the mediaportrays mental illness in a positive or negative way. Twenty four of these people reported thatthey believe that answer is negatively. There were various reasons, but there were two thatseemed to reoccur. The first reoccurring answer was that the media makes it seem as if peoplewith mental illness are dangerous. This specific idea is mainly referring to the news and moviesthat deal with crimes being committed by someone who may be suffering from a mental illness.The second reoccurring answer was that people with mental illness are portrayed as unable tofunction in society or as a burden. The majority of the people that took the survey explained that
Short 6they believe the media makes mental illness look negative, but this common answer was put tothe test with the movie The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Those who have seen it mainly believedit made mental illness not seem scary or negative, but it made it seem as if it is something thatcan be dealt with and handled without any problem. Contrary to the norm of the mediaportraying mental illness in a negative way, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is one strongexample of someone with a mental illness being able to live life normally with the support of hisfriends and family.
Short 7 Works CitedChbosky. "The Perks of Being a Wallflower Trailer." 12 October 2012. Online video clip. Internet Movie Database. Accessed on 18 March 2013. < http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1659337/>.Short, Emily. "Mental Illness in the Media." Survey. SurveyMonkey. SurveyMonkey, 1999. Web. 16 March 2013."The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)." Internet Movie Database. IMDb, Inc., 12 Oct 2012. Web. 18 Mar 2013. <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1659337/>.Thompson, Elizabeth. "Chbosky, Stephen." Pennsylvania Center for the Book. The Pennsylvania State University, n.d. Web. 26 Feb 2013. <http://pabook.libraries.psu.edu/palitmap/bios/Chbosky__Stephen.html>.