Madhouse was banned from MTV because of its’ portrayal of the mentally ill. I didn’t think I was going to get to a music video that was actually banned from MTV till I got around to doing Smack My Bitch Up by The Prodigy.
I’m bipolar, major depressive, get migraines, have been on more psychiatric meds than I can count, have been a cutter, and have been a patient in a mental hospital (inpatient and outpatient) to only name a few things in this area that I have had some experience with in my life. The person holding a fake baby makes me think of a woman I knew while in a mental hospital that had postpartum depression so bad that they gave her shock treatment (it helped her significantly). The people that appear mentally handicapped bother me because one of my lifelong friends has a younger sister who is mentally handicapped. I grew up around her, and have known others in my life who are in the same situation, but for different reasons. The nurse at the beginning reminds me of what we nicknamed “vampires” at the mental hospital that would come to take blood samples from us early in the morning in our beds. The person who accidentally lets one of the patients fall out of the wheelchair and the doctors smoking reminds me of people I’ve dealt with that treat the mentally and physically ill like they are nothing but a burden to them and/or even as if they are criminals. The whole music video and song reminds me of late 2014 and early 2015 when my brain completely turned against me, leaving me actually thinking I was trapped inside of something like The Matrix. To quote the song:
“Trapped, in this nightmare
I wish I’d wake
As my whole life begins to shake
Four walls surround me
An empty gaze
I can’t find my way out of this maze”
There were other things that accompanied that experience, and no doctor can tell me why it happened. I was just lucky I came out of it eventually.
The point is that I completely understand why some people would find this offensive. However, what I see when I watch this music video is a controversial short film that is drawing a parallel between the internal state of the mind of the mentally ill–we all are to some degree–with the apparent chaos of heavy metal and the actual chaotic relief of a mosh pit. I think Ben Kingsley in Shutter Island (2010) said it best when he described a migraine like having razor blades being shaken around in your head. Personally, I don’t find this offensive, but frighteningly accurate.
All that said, I can see why this would get banned from MTV, and probably should have been. It’s one thing for me to stupidly seek out Still Alice (2014) when I clearly should have known it would remind me of my brain turning to tapioca, but I did, and couldn’t finish it even with several anti-anxiety pills in my system. It’s another thing to be simply watching one of the most popular networks of the era, then have this music video suddenly show up on your TV. Despite being banned, it was still very successful and pushed the boundaries of what could and couldn’t be done in music videos.
This is one of those music videos where we apparently only know the director. That would be Amos Poe who only appears to have directed five music videos, including the one for Animotion’s Obsession. He has done other work in film that includes the documentary The Blank Generation (1976) that was filmed at CBGB during the birth of punk rock.