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Does Manhunt 2 make the mentally ill look bad?

2007-11-19 18:49:03·  2 minute read   ·  Jim Sterling@JimSterling
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He might be several weeks late to the party, but that's not stopped National Alliance on Mental Illness executive director Mike Fitzpatrick claiming himself a slice of the outrage pie. Outrage pie is delicious, after all, with a side of controversy bread and an ice-cold glass of reaction. The NAMI bigwig has accused Manhunt 2 of reinforcing negative stereotypes of the mentally ill by casting protagonist Daniel Lamb as an escaped mental patient.

Now, there are many things you can criticize the Manhunt series for -- namely for being a rubbish franchise -- but I wouldn't have expected someone to pull the "mental illness" card, that's a new one. Fitzpatrick claims that Rockstar makes millions of dollars through "stigmatizing" mental illness and that mental illness shouldn't be made fun of in this way, since we don't mock cancer or heart attacks in games. 

This comes down to intent. I don't think anybody playing Manhunt 2 would be laughing at mental illness ... well ... maybe on the part of the developers, but certainly not the fictional headcase seen in-game. It certainly doesn't mock mental illness anymore than TV shows like South Park do. The only difference here is that Manhunt 2 is the current hot potato, so why not jump aboard and ride it like a rocket-powered camel?

What do you think, dear readers? Does Manhunt 2 reflect poorly on mentally ill people? Who in their right mind (no joke intended) would view this game as a representation of genuine mental illness in the first place? Do you, like me, find Fitzpatrick's comments just a little bit misguided, however good-hearted, and agree that this is only an issue to those going out of their way to look for the problem?




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