Emancipate Yourselves From Mental Slavery: Interview With Virtuous Media On The Documentary ‘Empower’


Vir­tu­ous Media have brought out their power­ful doc­u­ment­ary ‘Empower’. The doc­u­ment­ary series aims to focus and tackle issues of men­tal slavery and suf­fer­ing in mod­ern day west­ern­ised world. How our minds have been pol­luted via the media out­lets and taken us away from our true self expres­sion’s. We catch up with them to find out more.

Tell us about Empower?

Empower is a doc­u­ment­ary about the mod­ern day strife of liv­ing in cit­ies with poverty like Lon­don. Rather than focus­ing on spread­ing aware­ness of these issues the doc­u­ment­ary aims to give a real deep under­stand­ing of why we as humans suf­fer to allow us to look openly and com­pas­sion­ately into home­less­ness, poverty and men­tal health issues. I wanted to film and pro­duce some­thing that really hit home as opposed to anoth­er doc­u­ment­ary about how “these” people need help. I reverse engin­eered the prob­lem and rather than labelling the indi­vidu­als who suf­fer (which does­n’t dis­crim­in­ate, it can be all walks of life) I decided to focus on the stresses of life itself to allow the audi­ence to see that most men­tal health issues are envir­on­ment­al and brought on by emo­tion­al trauma. A lot of emo­tion­al trauma is brought on by the society’s stressors itself. Part 2 of the doc­u­ment­ary series focuses on music, art and cul­ture and how we can unite and express ourselves freely without liv­ing in the para­met­ers of society’s “left brain” swayed paradigm.

What inspired you to look at men­tal health and self expres­sion?

I wanted to talk about men­tal health and self expres­sion because I feel it is at the core of all issues of mod­ern day soci­ety. We are con­stantly told to murder our own self expres­sions. Indi­vidu­als aren’t often praised where­as those who stick to the “status quo” are giv­en reward. You only have to look at main­stream news, main­stream media, music, and busi­ness, whatever it is. There is a cer­tain way “that sells” and this self-judge­ment is giv­ing us all anxi­ety; young females are forced to look a cer­tain way to be accep­ted by oth­ers whilst young males are for­cing them­selves into gang cul­ture or talk­ing and selling a life­style to fab­ric­ate their own ego’s, often again com­pletely shal­low and mater­i­al­ist­ic.
How do you think mod­ern soci­ety is affect­ing our mind sets?

Soci­ety and media is SO power­ful and what we focus on affects not only our mind­set but also our moods and emo­tion­al well-being. You can­’t turn on the TV without see­ing a single pro­gramme about people strug­gling being on bene­fits, the “dodgy” neigh­bours who moved in next door we should ALL be so wor­ried about, bailiffs turn­ing up to take people’s money, the amount of pro­grammes focus­ing on ter­ror­ism, then some girl pran­cing around in her panties drunk with her lips pumped up with lipo­gen, or some guy who is shal­low and stu­pid and is purely on TV because of his looks. All of this is paint­ing a pic­ture. We haven’t evolved much… I remem­ber being young and get­ting ticked off for slide kick­ing people in the play­ground after watch­ing power rangers! How far have we come since then? Not much fur­ther if we are buy­ing the tripe that is being pumped at us on a daily basis. I am pos­it­ive how­ever and this is partly why I made the doc­u­ment­ary to show people that there is anoth­er way, they just need someone to wave at the door for them to walk through! So yeah soci­ety is con­trolling our mind­sets and opin­ions of ourselves and oth­ers BUT only if WE let it!

Men­tal health is becom­ing a ‘hot top­ic’, but most inform­a­tion focuses on the extern­al factors, such as social stigma. You have paid par­tic­u­lar atten­tion to the intern­al struggle, why is this so import­ant?

I’m going to keep this short so people can really grasp the concept. It’s only EVER an intern­al issue. Everything is intern­al. There is no extern­al without the intern­al. HENCE why it is so import­ant to real­ise that our minds (intern­al real­ity) are being warped, pol­luted and con­trolled. When we as indi­vidu­als become more bal­anced intern­ally by work­ing on ourselves then we will see that reflect extern­ally. Change your­self and you will have changed your world

What can we do to start using the right side of our minds more? 

The right side of the brain is in charge of expres­sion, ima­gin­a­tion, dancing/ move­ment, hol­ist­ic think­ing (look­ing at things as wholes rather than parts), feel­ings, pas­sion, music, poetry, art and laughter. So to use our right brains more we NEED more self-expres­sion and also to look at things more hol­ist­ic­ally and with more ima­gin­a­tion rather than analytically/ real­ist­ic­ally. Look­ing at things from an emo­tion­al com­pas­sion­ate stand point would be a good place to start. You can see a pat­tern when you think of all the Artists, Poets, Comedi­ans who have suffered over the years with “men­tal health” if this side of the brain is not incor­por­ated as much in soci­ety and is con­sidered more of a nov­elty then more right-brained cre­at­ive people are bound to feel depressed.
You also focus on the near dec­ade long eco­nom­ic down­turn. How do you think this affects the young­er gen­er­a­tion, who have nev­er known a life without aus­ter­ity?

I think the young­er gen­er­a­tion and the cur­rent early adult gen­er­a­tion are feel­ing the stress most def­in­itely. But again it’s the per­cep­tion the media has giv­en us about everything. The 6 o’c­lock news could have the power to inspire people to make more of a dif­fer­ence but instead they talk about death, rape, eco­nom­ic col­lapse, ter­ror­ism, budget cuts and everything awful that is going on in soci­ety. The cost of liv­ing in Lon­don is astro­nom­ic­al there’s no deny­ing that but with that said the inter­net has changed everything. There’s barely any talk of that. How many people have put up vine videos and are now mak­ing money off 1 min com­edy clips? Or the people who have star­ted a career in music entirely from a Face­book page and are now mak­ing a liv­ing for them­selves off their pas­sion? Or people who have set up char­it­ies online to help oth­ers? The list of pos­it­ives that are hap­pen­ing is astro­nom­ic­al. BUT the news wants to make you wor­ried about your neigh­bour, Muslims, pay­ing your bills and not look­ing cool because you’re not fol­low­ing the latest fash­ion. It’s BS.

Artist­ic expres­sion, like music, has long been a voice and source of strength for sub­jec­ted pop­u­la­tions. Do you think music still serves the same pur­pose in the mod­ern era of record labels and mater­i­al­ism?

I think music like any­thing in exist­ence can serve 2 pur­poses; it can des­troy or rebuild. Enter­tain­ment is cool some­times people want light-hearted stuff and I under­stand that. The main­stream music we hear on radio with the mes­sages they churn out about fast cars, gangs, b*tches, are nev­er talk­ing about real life issues such as; Polit­ics, philo­sophy, sci­ence, his­tory etc. If that is all we stand for then we have murdered ourselves. Thank­fully the inter­net has allowed us to now pick and choose and use oth­er plat­forms for music, art, film, inform­a­tion. I truly believe the cor­por­a­tions are los­ing now the inter­net and social media plat­forms have allowed this engage­ment and self-expres­sion to thrive on a mass scale. So the game’s over!

We hear part three is on the way. What can we expect?

In Part 3 I want to go into more detail about my per­son­al struggles and the jour­ney in start­ing VM as a cloth­ing brand and move­ment to help empower, inspire and also pro­mote oth­ers who are work­ing on them­selves in the spheres of urb­an music, illus­tra­tion, self devel­op­ment and spir­itu­al­ity of some sort. My brand aims to stand for everything urb­an related that I’ve grown up with liv­ing in Lon­don as well as my love for music, illus­tra­tion and know­ledge. I am still work­ing out how I’m going to make VM some­thing that serves oth­ers. The doc­u­ment­ary was a good place to start because I’m shar­ing what I’ve learnt with oth­ers to help ‘Empower’ them so they don’t need any­thing extern­al to make a dif­fer­ence in their life and the lives of oth­ers. I built VM whilst rock bot­tom and I’m not ashamed in say­ing that. Hit­ting rock bot­tom was the best thing that ever happened to me it allowed me to real­ise why I always felt so lost in my early adult life. Sud­denly it all made sense. I want to say if you are someone who is suf­fer­ing with stress or any form of men­tal health issue that it’s nor­mal for you to feel the way you feel. Soci­ety has a lovely way of telling you to dust your­self down and get back to work. The beauty of it is this — those who suf­fer or are suf­fer­ing I believe have awoken and are now on the path of self dis­cov­ery and expres­sion. Unfor­tu­nately some of them don’t know yet or are again buy­ing what soci­ety has told them about them­selves. No one defines you remem­ber that. Only YOU define your­self. Have faith. Do more of what you love! Stay blessed. Love Wis­dom Power.


Find out more about the move­ment here https://www.facebook.com/Virtuousmedia/

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Merz is No Bounds’ well-being lead. A long­time hip hop head with sev­er­al years exper­i­ence in men­tal health. He is also founder of a vegan Mac & Cheese food truck @lazyboykitchen .

About Merz

Merz is No Bounds' well-being lead. A longtime hip hop head with several years experience in mental health. He is also founder of a vegan Mac & Cheese food truck @lazyboykitchen .