When M. Night Shyamalan burst onto the scene in 1999 with modern horror classic The Sixth Sense, he was quickly anointed as Hollywood’s latest filmmaking wunderkind. It looked like he was going to live up to that potential, too, when he followed it up with the acclaimed Unbreakable and underrated Signs, but the wheels soon started to fall off.
Shyamalan’s subsequent work was characterized by self-indulgence and after the trifecta of The Happening, The Last Airbender and After Earth, his name had become reduced to a punchline. A reinvention was desperately needed, and 2016’s Split looked to have provided it after earning solid reviews and raking in almost $280 million at the box office on a budget of just $9 million.
Revealed to be a secret Unbreakable sequel right at the very end, James McAvoy was lauded for his incredible performance as a troubled man suffering from a severe case of Dissociative Identity Disorder. However, four years after the movie was released and it became available on Netflix, folks suddenly decided that they weren’t best pleased with Split making light of a serious condition, and demanded that it be removed from the streaming service.
Never mind the fact that Split is very clearly a work of fiction set in a heightened reality where people have superpowers, there was outrage nonetheless, and now a petition has been launched in an effort to have Netflix take it down that thousands of people have lent support to.
Here’s how a portion of it reads:
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.
Of course, DID is something that affects many people around the world, but Split is obviously designed for entertainment purposes and is hardly focused on realism. That being said, folks seem to launch petitions for every decision made in Hollywood that they don’t agree with these days. Like many others, though, it seems there’s very little chance of this one actually accomplishing its goal.