As Seen on TV: Humor, Violence, Mental Illness. We Are Not Okay

Available for Interviews: Dr. Hope Umansky

Dr. Hope Umansky is an American Culture College Professor with a PhD in Clinical Psychology.

What Dr. Hope can say in an interview on
Our Culture Represented in the TV Arena:

No, the kids are not okay—and neither are the adults.
America Needs a Priority Reset.
  • We’re still a culture debating the heroism or cowardice of interpersonal violence as seen in recent celebrity news. Why is this part of the public debate?
  • Are we really still making jokes about illness, mental illness, and violence in 2022? Will Smith and Kanye West are two of the latest examples. SNL made fun of it throughout the show. Is it funny or toxic? 

  • Debating the heroism of cowardice of interpersonal violence seen on TV will not change the public debate to focus on identifying and treating mental illness before it gets to violence. The violence we witness publicly as a result of celebrities struggling like the rest of us but on a public stage, an increase in mental health care and treatment will still receive stigma and lack of funding. 
  • Violence stemming from mental instability is not funny. Hollywood has normalized this lately. Kim Kardashian has been harassed and stalked digitally by her ex-husband. If she cannot get help or get the offender to stop, and if the assault on Chris Rock is seen as funny only, not as sad, tragic, and traumatic for him and the Smiths—the expectation that regular everyday people can get help for mental instability and hold people accountable for the violence that certain mental instability can cause, the disparity in mental health treatment will continue to worsen.  
  • Celebrity and politics show the macrocosm of what happened to those of us not famous, not in celebrity. As a result of the pandemic, economic devastation, mass disruption to our daily lives, and now the specter of WWIII, no, we are not okay. What is more than not okay, is not identifying or having people struggling access help.
  • If the culture makes jokes about violence stemming from mental illness, there will be no increasing mental health teams on police forces, in schools, or in cities. The rising crime rates and shootings happening every day show that this is not a trend, a fad, or a one-off. We are not okay and the national conversation needs to change. Violence is not funny, no matter the causation. 
  • We need to call out what we see—especially as it occurs on a collective public level if we ever want to just be okay again. Without looking at the root causes of the massive increases in violence, we treat violence stemming from mental illness or instability as a morality tale. We do not discuss cancer or diabetes this way. If celebrities and public figures cannot access or identify the help they need, where does that leave the rest of us?
  • Humor has a place. SNL hits the mark most of the time. However, it is time that we stop laughing at the struggle and focus on access and recovery. That is the only way toward integration and healing as individuals and society. Bad behavior and mental illness are not being taken seriously. We can do better.


Interview: Dr. Hope Umansky

Dr. Hope Umansky, a.k.a. Dr. Hope, is an American Culture College Professor and an author on educational reform, equity, inclusion, social justice & American culture. Her column, Dr. Hope On Point represents the intersection of historical context and popular culture, with an emphasis on the complex human experience.

Hope Umansky, PhD, offers a unique psychology-based perspective on the questions and events that weigh heavy on our hearts and minds.

Jo Allison
Managing Editor
Director of Public Relations
Success In Media, Inc.

Leave a Reply