Recently Hotstar, an online streaming service, much like Netflix started promoting their newfound access to the hit sitcom FRIENDS. In the ad, one thing irked me a lot. The promo talks about how FRIENDS ‘started’ it all from catchphrases to OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and bromance.
Do the people at Hotstar believe that FRIENDS somehow started a trend for OCD? They showed Monica (played by Courteney Cox) obsessing over cleanliness and organisation in her apartment. Now I would understand if a young channel or a beginner made this mistake of confusing cleanliness with OCD, but for one of the biggest streaming services in India to make this mistake is simply appalling. The video already has around 250,000 views on YouTube, and the same promo is being run on television regularly as well. Just think of all the people who are seeing OCD being associated with a simple desire for cleanliness and organisation. Chances are they will believe this is what OCD is all about.
I want to clarify that this isn’t an outrage post I am writing while full of fury, punching the keyboard over and over trying to get my message across. This is something that I write with full consciousness, but with a disappointment within. Mental health advocates have to work for months and years to make about 1000 people aware of how serious mental disorders are and how they need serious public attention, but an ad like this undoes all the work we have done in a few minutes. One would think that educated people don’t need to be sensitised as much as the people who have had little access to education, but the fact that this ad was approved at multiple levels shows that either the people in charge of such decisions don’t know what OCD is or they don’t care about spreading misinformation about the same.
I have talked about OCD in the past. It is a dilapidating condition that is known for intrusive thoughts about impending doom. The person having these thoughts knows they are irrational but feels compelled to do something about them. Like other mental disorders, it is a battle against the mind where people struggle to control their own thoughts and express their emotions. People with OCD turn to self-harm or suicidal ideation to put an end to these intrusive thoughts.
OCD affects lives, it harms people and it makes them hate their own self. What it certainly is not is a trend started by Monica. This advertisement may have caused a lot of harm to the cause of mental health awareness in India and the worst part is, chances are that the people at Hotstar won’t even care.