Hoy Abno: Portrayal and Reception of Mental Illness in Selected Philippine Movies

Perez, I. (2016). Hoy Abno: Portrayal and Reception of Mental Illness in Selected Philippine Movies. Unpublished undergraduate thesis, University of the Philippines Diliman College of Mass Communication.

This study aims to find out the portrayal of mental illness in selected Philippine movies and how it is received by viewers. Many studies find that portrayals of mental illness are generally negative, distorted, and violent. In the Philippines, there is a growing number of mental illness cases and the media is needed to make people more aware on the topic of mental illness. Grounded in Stuart Hall’s encoding-decoding, representation, and reception model, the study used a qualitative method in gathering data. Three local movies from different time frames (Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang, Kimmy Dora, and The Trial) are textually analyzed to find out how mental illness was represented. Focus group discussions are also utilized to understand the reception of the viewers in the portrayals of mental illness in the movies. The study reveals that most of the characterizations of mental illness are negative: dangerous-aggressive, simple and childlike, vulnerability, unpredictability, and social outcasts. However, people with mental illness are also shown to be caring and empathetic. Social interactions with different people also depend on the relationship of the characters with one another. Some characters have supportive, discriminatory, and victimizing interactions with people with mental illness. Visual imagery and language also constitute the representation of mental illness. For the reception of the films, it shows that the movies are effective in giving awareness on the plight of the mentally ill in order to understand them better to lessen stigmatization and discrimation.

Keywords: mental illness, portrayal, reception, media

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