Monday, 11 May 2009

Quick hit: Canta article on mental health counter-productive

Why is it that student mags so often seem to produce articles that aren't pushing the envelope but are pushing crap? This from Stuff this morning:
A controversial Canta magazine article on mental health has been slammed as "outrageous" by a leading mental health expert.

The article, entitled Mental Illness and penned by a columnist named "Deborah", appeared on the Canterbury University's student magazine website on Thursday.

It has angered some readers.

The article is critical of television campaigns aimed at reducing the stigma surrounding mental illnesses.

It reads: "It is well-documented that there is a genetic precursor for many mental disorders. You don't want your kids to have the same problems you have, do you? Make sure you adopt, rather than making kids yourself. Predisposing children to mental disorders is just cruel."

Mental Health Foundation chief executive Judi Clements said parts of the article were "outrageous". "Without being po-faced, this is not something to trivialise."


Most responses had been angry. One said: "Oh give Deborah a break. People with NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) have just as much right to speak out as anyone else. They can't help themselves."
Click through for the whole Stuff article.

It's particularly frustrating as when a student mag has awesome content, or even breaks a story, it never gets reported in the mainstream media.

As for the point (Not Our)Deborah is trying to make? Compassion: FAIL.


Confusion said...

Unfortunately Canta's current editor appears to feel that the Deborah columns are the very height of what student magazines should aspire to. Controversy and cheap offence.

Principessa said...

I spotted that article about the same time as you Julie and also wrote on it:

Brings back memories of a certain Suicide Article in Craccum all those years ago...

Giovanni said...

Harvest Bird also covered this, beautifully as per usual.

ms poinsettia said...

Cheap offensiveness along with rank homophobia and sexism is the weekly norm in Canta.

Canta has been so bad for so many years that I can't help but think it would be better not to even have a student magazine at Canterbury. Part of the problem is that hardly any aspiring student journalists/writers want to be associated with the magazine.

Anna said...

The suicide article was my first thought too. I don't think the student media are alone in trying to pass off crap as being 'cutting edge' in some way, but they've certainly produced more than their share. Even more annoying is the claim that it's satire. Irk. Real satire is actually intelligent and thought-provoking.

This doesn't offend me as a person with a mental illness, so much as it offends me as a person who likes decent media.

Deborah said...

Definitely not me!

stargazer said...

one thing i'm interested is why 'not-our-deborah' didn't have a full name associated with the article. it looks like an opinion piece, and opinion pieces in newspapers have the full name of the writer, as do letters to the editor. unless there is some compelling reason to omit it (eg whistleblower; crime victim).

i suspect this writer would not be quite so forthcoming with views of this nature if a full name was published. although it hasn't stopped garth george... but even he wouldn't go this far i suspect.

Azlemed said...

its so frustrating that articles like that even get air time, having a mental illness is hard enough without crap like that being writtne.

A Nonny Moose said...

It's like university students of today have forgotten what it's like to really rebel and protest - they have nothing worth fighting for, so they're making crap up to make themselves look big.

I remember what it was like to be a uni student. I remember all my class struggling to find our voice in the world. I remember one guy using a student media outlet to voice some pretty horrendous shit that almost got him expelled - he saw the voice that South Park was just beginning to have, and wanted to be like that. Unfortunately it backfired.

So yeah, I understand student media wanting to shock, people wanting to make a name for themselves. It's always gonna happen, as kids learn about being adults. Doesn't make what they say RIGHT, just hope they learn from the complete flustercluck.

Lucy said...

Because "Deborah" got her start writing extremely moronic letters bashing Arts students, and, somehow, got upgraded to an "opinion" column. This sort of shit is par for the course from the Canta these days, and the reason I haven't picked up a copy this year. As Confusion says, they mistake offensiveness for relevance and bigotry for humour. It's not worth anyone's time.

Confusion said...

Also because "Deborah" (Not this blogs one) is a pseudonym of a male Physics student who just likes being an assclown.

I think ms poinsettia might have the slightly wrong end fo the stick. I thought last years Canta's were better than the years surrounding them by a significant margin, but then, if I submitted a column that wasn't based around blatant offensiveness to last year's canta it would've been printed, as opposed to the current standards.

Julie said...

I remember looking at old Craccum's from the 1980s (and even early 1990s) when I was at Uni wistfully. Student media doesn't have to be crap by definition. I think the Women's Issue of Salient, and last year's Kate at UOA prove that point. And I'm sure there have been plenty of excellent articles in student mags outside of the women's issues too.

It does concern me though how often student mags seem to tend towards easy targets and cheap hits (sexism, racism, homophobia,perpetuating false stereotypes about the mentally ill, mature students, etc). Perhaps it has something to do with the model they are often run under - financially always teetering, staffed largely by volunteers, and often with inexperienced editors who do their best but when the deadline is looming can turn to Google for content. It must be incredibly hard to turn out a quality read on a weekly basis with next to no money and almost no staff.

Tui said...

What Confusion and Lucy said - While the criticisms of both this article and of Canta in general are right on the money ("she" sucks, it sucks) Deborah's writing does have a wider context in that she has a history of being an asshole (because I'm guessing the guy who writes her, who I don't know, is also basically an asshole.)

IIRC - I'm not at UC this year and I stopped picking up Canta pretty early on anyway - Canta has quite a tradition of "opinion" columnists who use pseuds. In fact I'm tempted to say that a majority of the material in Canta uses pseuds? Am I right? The lead "serious" article, if there is one, plus the weekly content (cartoons, chaplain's column, etc) would not be pseuds but otherwise... Anyway. Canta is working really hard to foster UC's already-endemic racism, sexism, and hatred of the Arts degree. It's succeeding.