Some of my favorite movies, even before my memory loss, had to do with memory loss. But after losing a lot of my memory, I watched them differently; more critically. While some films enforced stereotypes about memory loss, others hit the nail right on the head. Now, before I start, I have to add a disclaimer: just because some of these movies and TV shows aren’t true for me, that doesn’t mean that they can’t be true for someone else. In fact, one or two of them are based on true stories. However, some claims are absolutely ridiculous when it comes to memory loss, and it’s obvious that the script writers have not had any experience with the subject and that’s okay. What’s not okay is people taking those films and TV shows as fact. So here is a breakdown of (in my experience) the most accurate and inaccurate depictions of memory loss in popular media.
1. The Vow– This one is tricky because it is based on a real couple who went through a real situation. I don’t want to believe most of what happens, mostly because the film industry used this horrible event of a car crash to portray a developing relationship rather than learning to deal with the memory loss itself. I suppose they had to for entertainment value, but a romantic story line shouldn’t be the main event in a person’s tragedy or recovery. In fact, the point of view wasn’t even from the character who had the accident; it was from her husband who had to deal with being forgotten; not the one who was doing the forgetting. Rating: 4/10
2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind– This was tied for my favorite movie even before my incident. And this one is different because it doesn’t claim to be realistic. In fact, it’s the obviously fictional realism that makes the movie what it is. However, one thing it does get right are the tiny flashbacks a memory loss patient can get. I remember certain scenes of my life right before my incident, but in bits and pieces. They disappear as quickly as they come, which is represented in this movie. Love story aside, this movie explains what it’s like to remember people you were once close to and realize your relationship has changed. And sometimes, you get the chance to start over with them. Rating: 8/10
3. Finding Dory– Easily the most accurate representation of how my life works. Leave it to Disney to make me relate so strongly to a fish. All of the little situations she finds herself in throughout the movie, even in Finding Nemo, are meant to make the audience laugh. And they do, even for me! But little does most of the audience know, those anecdotes thrown in the movie for comedic relief are so incredibly realistic. Something as simple as remembering P. Sherman 42 Wallaby Way Sidney is such an accomplishment when you have a short-term memory loss. Introducing yourself over and over when you meet someone new is a reality. Not remembering names of new people is insanely common. Overall, the character of Dory is silly and sounds absurd, but she simply says and acts out all the things people with memory loss feel and choose to hide, at least in my experience. She gets lost all of the time while I only find my way thanks to my GPS. Having to repeat information to herself over and over and forgetting upon the smallest distractions is something else we have in common. Following your instincts despite your illogical reasoning is something you have to trust, regardless of others’ doubts. One thing I have yet to grasp that Dory has down is knowing that everything will be okay, no matter what we forget. Maybe it’s naive to trust in an animated movie, but when it’s the closest thing to your own reality, you hold on to it. This film is hands down the best representation of real-life memory loss there is.
4. Full House: Michelle Rides Again- This two part episode made me roll my eyes before my own memory loss, and now watching it even makes me a little angry. This show has always been on the corny side, but the way they portray Michelle’s memory loss after she falls off of her horse is way overdone. Firstly, for someone with amnesia, Michelle is surprisingly calm to go back to a house full of strangers. The dialogue is cheesy and the sentimental conversations between her family are very exaggerated. Some of the things she is allegedly confused about are things that people usually don’t forget. Like the fact that all of her family lives in the same house with her, or even the simple fact that she likes dogs.The most surprising thing though was that Michelle’s memory loss only lasted until the end of the episode. It instantly came rushing back all at once when she wakes up from a nap. The writers didn’t seem to do much investigation into what memory loss really entails. Although every case is different, I doubt anyone’s case is like Michelle Tanner’s.
I will spare you from reading any longer, but those are just a few examples of how the media writes their own versions of memory loss. Some are absolutely accurate while others tend to embellish and take no realism from actual memory loss cases. Let me know your favorite or least favorite memory loss films and TV shows in the comments.