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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Plain Clothes Barely Scrapes the Surface

Sam Jaeger

While Post Traumatic Stress Disorder—more commonly known as PTSD—is often associated with the military. They are not the only ones that deal with this brutal mental health issue.

After a long time of painful silence, first responders (firefighters, law enforcement officials, and emergency medical personnel) who have been suffering the same infliction, are now slowly becoming accepted to talk about it openly.

The short film “Plain Clothes,” directed by Sam Jaeger has recently got a lot of press. Jaeger also plays in the NBC sitcom Parenthood, and played a supporting role in the “American Sniper.”

For addressing such an important issue, the almost 11 minute short film seems to not quite have responded to the cause as it could have. While the film certainly touched on the issue, it seemed to miss the idea of being a police officer with PTSD. Instead, the film seems to have focused on one incident in detail, when the officer was not even on duty. While the scene would definitely give anyone PTSD if they were in the shoes of the officer, the film does not seem to specifically speak about being a cop with PTSD.

While this may have been for various reasons, like not wanting to breach confidentiality, Jaeger seems to have gone with a more indirect, if not barely on-topic, route.

I was expecting to have to concentrate on images of dead bodies at crime scenes, or of a cop dealing with shooting someone and having to live with the images of death. Instead it focused on an incident that does not seem specific to law enforcement.

In the beginning, the viewer prepares for the horrible images and screaming after an opening of listening to cruisers being dispatched to various incidents. As the film progresses I kept on waiting for the scene where something bad will be seen, but instead the film never gets there and I was left wondering how the director, who seemed to be on the right track, deviate from what one would expect to be a law enforcement-centered short.

If a viewer wants to see a very sanitized version of what PTSD really is, then maybe this is the short film for you. But if you want to see what PTSD really looks like, you need to expect more than just remembering almost drowning a person.

PTSD is a real mental health issue. Our military personnel and first responders get jaded because of all the blood, bodies, car crashes, and all other horrific scenes they see time and time again. There has been for decades the stigma that if military or first responders were to open up and express their true feelings that they were considered to be weak or to be pussies.

PTSD is an ugly truth working in these jobs and the stigma that has gone along with it is just as bad if not worse. This film barely breaks the surface and should not be considered to fully represent the severity of the issue.