People want Netflix to remove M. Night Shyamalan’s Split with James McAvoy because it offends those who suffer from Dissociative Identity Disorder and feel the flick misrepresents the condition.
Netflix never offered the film to American subscribers so protesters are calling for the streaming giant to remove the movie around the world.
A petition has sprung up on Change.org, saying:
Dissociative identity disorder (DID) is a coping mechanism developed in response to intense, repetitive childhood trauma. This disorder is characterized by the presence of two or more personality states, or alters. The disruption in identity involves marked discontinuity in sense of self and sense of agency, accompanied by related alterations in affect, behavior, consciousness, memory, perception, cognition, and/or sensory-motor functioning.
In the movie Split, written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, a man with dissociative identity disorder is portrayed as a predator. This movie inaccurately represents the disorder in many ways; over-exaggerating the rarity of the disorder, insinuating that those impacted are capable of complete physical metamorphosis, and, most importantly, highlighting the false stigma created in Hollywood, introduced by films like Psycho, that people with DID are more likely to be violent, or will in some way inflict harm onto others. In fact, those with the disorder, as with any mental health condition, are more likely to be victimized than to be perpetrators.
The issue with these depictions, especially with ones as violent as Split, is that they act as many people’s first, and often only exposure to people with dissociative identity disorder. Endless stories pour from the DID community of stigma that this film alone has created within their lives; people asking systems “which alter is the beast” or “are any of them going to hurt me” are direct influences of the lessons that these depictions force into the minds of those uneducated about dissociative disorders. The implications of this stigma are very real. Socially, we are alienated and vilified. Those with DID fear opening up to their peers about the struggles that their disorder causes within them, due to the stigma Split has brought surround DID into popular culture. We are more likely to run into financial distress if our medical history is publicized, which, in turn, prevents more people from speaking openly about their experiences, at fear of facing repercussions from one’s place of employment. This is not because DID innately makes anyone unable to preform basic tasks of functioning, but because of the stigma and subsequent dehumanization that these films never fail to intensify.
This petition is aimed at Netflix, Inc., who currently airs Split on the streaming platform in select countries, giving readily available access to the heavily dehumanizing stigma that this movie creates. The petition is not from one person- or a single collective of people- but from the dissociative identity disorder community at large, and any one who considers themselves to be an advocate to those with mental illnesses. We need to decide where to draw the line on entertainment media, and vastly under-represented minority groups that struggle to be seen in the first place is a good place to start. The dissociative identity disorder community and its allies ask Netflix, Inc. to either remove the title from its service, or add a disclaimer that the film is not representative of DID as a whole.