JC Takes Cover from Cover

By | March 10, 2004 at 12:00 AM

Justin Timberlake suffered a wardrobe malfunction. JC Chasez is suffering what could be called a titular malfunction.

Timberlake’s fellow ‘N Syncer is in so-sorry mode after a leading advocate of the schizophrenic took offense to the title of Chasez’s just-released solo album. The one called Schizophrenic.

For the record, the cover art-depicting a mussy-haired Chasez in a straight jacket-didn’t go over too big with Bill MacPhee, either.

In a statement Monday, MacPhee, publisher of Schizophrenia Digest, and a diagnosed schizophrenic, called Chasez’s appropriation of the brain disorder a misappropriation, and criticized his record label, Jive.

“Through the album title and cover image, [Jive and its parent company, BMG Zomba] have ignored the U.S. Surgeon General’s call on the entertainment industry to help eliminate stigma to address the public health crisis that exists,” MacPhee said.

Through his rep, Chasez issued a statement of his own.

“I apologize to anyone I may have offended with the title and cover of my album,” Chasez said. “I am truly sorry if I’ve upset anyone.”

According to Jive, however, neither the offending title nor cover art will be altered. The album went on sale, as is, on Feb. 24.

In interviews, Chasez has repeatedly said “schizophrenic” was meant to reflect the album’s mix of styles. On Monday, he explained he was just taking “artistic license” with the term.

In a recent issue of Popstar! magazine, Chasez’s license allowed him to conduct an interview with himself-at least that’s the way the piece was headlined.

Chasez isn’t the first person to use “schizophrenic” when “multiple personality disorder” might be the more accurate, if not less potentially offensive, choice. (“My Prince tribute album,” of course, would be the most accurate, least offensive option.)

As Schizophrenia Digest’s official site says, the disease is a brain disorder, typically striking men and women in their 20s or teen years, that has “nothing to do with ‘split personality’ or ‘multiple personality.'”

In his statement, Chasez acknowledged schizophrenia as a “serious illness,” but pointed out that he was merely going by the book-the Merriam-Webster dictionary-that defines schizophrenia, in part, as a noun meaning “contradictory or antagonistic qualities or attitudes.”

“It was this meaning of the word that I was using to describe my work,” Chasez said.

Chasez, meanwhile, also isn’t the first showbiz type to come under fire for reputedly trivializing a mental disorder.

In its latest “Stigmabuster Alert” newsletter, the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill rips into NBC daytime soap Passions for consigning one of its characters to the “loony bin.” The group also, natch, rips in Chasez’s album, slamming it as “irresponsible and outrageous.”

The controversy is the latest to challenge Chasez’s fledgling solo career.

In February, the break-out boybander was booted from the halftime show lineup at the NFL Pro Bowl. The gridiron folks, still touchy one week after Timberlake’s bodice-ripping antics with Janet Jackson at the Super Bowl, decided Chasez’s proposed song choices (either “Some Girls [Dance With Women]” or “Blowin’ Me Up [With Her Love]”) were too frisky for the post-wardrobe malfunction world.

Of potentially even more concern to Chasez: Sales. Schizophenic debuted on last week’s album charts in 17th place, with a so-so 52,000 copies sold. By comparison, Timberlake’s solo starter, Justified, moved 439,000 copies in its debut week in 2002.

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