Netflix Users Petition to Remove Split Due to Depiction of Mental Health Conditions

As streaming services and networks continue to remove episodes of TV shows from their platforms due to objectionable content, film fans are speaking out about other media they feel should be taken down due to insensitive portrayals of real life conditions. A new petition has appeared on Change.org asking for Netflix to remove the 2017 M. Night Shyamalan film Split from their library of movies due to the way it portrays Dissociative identity disorder. In the film actor James McAvoy plays a character named Kevin with the mental disorder who has 24 distinct personalities in his mind that manifest themselves throughout the film.

The petition describes the film's portrayal of its character with DID as "a predator," and inaccurate representation of the disorder. They note that like Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, the film creates a false stigma that "people with DID are more likely to be violent, or will in some way inflict harm onto others." Throughout the movie McAvoy's character is seen hunting, hurting, or killing people. These contradicts the reality they say, noting: "Those with the disorder, as with any mental health condition, are more likely to be victimized than to be perpetrators."

"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," the organizer writes. "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."

The petition notes it is aimed only at Netflix, Inc. for being the current streaming of Split in some territories (which does not include the United States currently but has in the past). As of this writing there are no streaming services with Split available for free streaming in the US. There are no mentions of writer/director M. Night Shyamalan except to note his creative titles or the film's distributor Universal Pictures.

"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 petition concludes. "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."

So far over 1600 people have signed the petition but Netflix, Shyamalan, nor Universal have responded to it. Split previously came under fire upon its release for the same reasons with petitions being filed at the same time that garnered upwards of 20,000 signatures then, with no response from the studio or filmmaker at that time either.

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Shyamalan brought back James McAvoy and his DID character for the 2018 follow-up to Split, Glass; the film that combined McAvoy's character with Shyamalan's 2000 thrilller Unbreakable starring Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson. A sequel to that movie is unlikely.

(H/T Dread Central)

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