Over three years after its release, the M. Night Shyamalan film Split is the focus of a recent change.org petition to try and get the film removed from Netflix’s streaming services.
The petition simply titled “Get Split Off Netflix!” already has over 2,000 of its desired 2,500 signatures. The petition description explains that “Dissociative identity disorder (DID) is a coping mechanism developed in response to intense, repetitive childhood trauma.” The petition continues, “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 the M. Night Shyamalan film from 2017, James McAvoy plays a person with twenty-three different personalities, all of which are expecting the arrival of his twenty-fourth personality, known as “The Beast.” When “The Beast” takes hold of McAvoy’s character, he is able to climb walls, move with increased speed, and has a hunger for human flesh.
Split received plenty of criticisms upon its release along these lines. After its release, CNN spoke with psychiatrist Dr. Garrett Marie Deckel, a specialist in DID at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine, who said, “You are going to upset and potentially exacerbate symptoms in thousands of people who are already suffering.” However, a piece by Psi Chi looking at the film states, “Generally speaking, Split got a lot of Dissociative Identity Disorder correct: the distinct personality states, the recurrent gaps in recall and the childhood trauma. Unfortunately, the movie stretched itself a little too far when it changed the entire biological makeup of Kevin to turn him into The Beast.”
The issue returned to the surface once more with the release of of the M. Night Shyamalan sequel to Split, 2019’s Glass. In an interview for The Mighty, Christine Forner, president of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation says that films like this have “Frankenstein-ed several disorders,” and continued, “[People with] DID hurt themselves, not other people. Sadomasochistic psychopaths hurt others. Because so little is taught about both conditions it is just up for pure, inaccurate mythological garbage.” According to an article in Healthline from 2017, between 1 and 3 percent of people have DID.
Strangely, the petition, which seems to have been posted in June of 2020, doesn’t mention Glass, a film which is currently streaming on HBO Max in the United States. While Split builds to the release of “The Beast,” in Glass, this personality is often the primary focus of McAvoy’s character. Oddly, Split isn’t currently streaming on Netflix in the United States, however, it is available for streaming on Fubo TV. The petition does mention that Split is available for streaming in “select countries,” such as Canada, Japan, and Mexico.
The petition wraps up by asking 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.”