Visibility and Power in Welcome to Me (2014)

With this project, I was thinking about the intersection of visibility and power. I found that the concept that best integrated these two ideas was the concept of representation. I thought about ways I was being represented in the media. For example, how are mentally ill people portrayed in the media? How are gender neutral or non-binary people represented? In addition I was considering the way in which I serve as a representation of these various groups I identify myself with. I decided to focus on my specific mental illness, borderline personality disorder, and a representation of BPD in the media that I found particularly striking- Kristen Wiigs 2014 portrayal of the disorder in the film Welcome to Me. I found fault with her portrayal. Her symptoms do fit the DSM guidelines for the disorder, however, she doesn’t seem to represent what it feels like to be an actual person with this disorder. Wiig’s character is both flat and monotone, as if rehearsing a script, and aggressively over-emotional. Most notably, I found that Kristen Wiig’s portrayal is too much like a character she might play in any other comedy. Alice, the star of Welcome to Me, has many quirks unassociated with the disorder and is overall just sort of weird in the way she recites Oprah episodes from memory and ritualistically stirs her yogurt. I wanted to put my image parallel to Wiig’s representation in the film, as an actual person with borderline personality disorder, as I figure out how a person with BPD is supposed to look and behave.

not like you, but pretty cool

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