As someone with DID, it's probably no surprise that I have not been thrilled with M. Night Shyamalan's latest movie, Split. To put it simply, I find it pretty stigmatizing. Still, I never tried to shut the movie down or hate on people who chose to see it; I understood that it's someone's work of fiction and created for entertainment. Instead, I tried to educate people about DID and reached out to the people involved in the film.
This is why I
Yet despite over 16,000 signatures and multiple attempts on my part to get in touch with Shyamalan, no progress has been made. The truth is, Shyamalan, McAvoy, and the rest of the people involved in this production have chosen to ignore the DID and psychiatric communities.
In September of last year, I spoke on the phone with Shyamalan’s personal assistant, Rakel Joyce, who gave me her email address. So I sent her our petition, along with the petition letter, and she said she would forward it along. In the months since I’ve emailed her several times asking her how they plan to respond to this petition and she has completely ignored me. Joyce was listed in the credits as Shyamalan's personal assistant and even had an extra part in the movie. Seeing as how Joyce had very easy access to Shyamalan, it is highly unlikely he did not see the petition.
In late 2014, Shyamalan actually spoke to clinical psychologist, Bethany Brand, about DID. Brand even offered to introduce Shyamalan to people with DID. But once the trailers for Split came out, Brand contacted Shyamalan expressing her own concern and asking how he planned to counteract the stigmatization the movie may cause. Shyamalan claimed that "he and Universal Pictures were interested in promoting information and support for those with DID." Brand also talked to a representative from Universal Pictures and things seemed to be going well until, as Brand says, "crickets...there was nothing." It appears that she was pushed aside and ignored just as I was.
In fact, the movie's lead, James McAvoy, states in the video below that he was not able to find anybody with DID willing to talk to him. Despite Brand's offers to connect Shyamalan with DID patients and despite my own attempts to reach out to McAvoy and his agents.
So where does this leave us? As much as I don't appreciate the stigma this movie has already created in my life, with a classmate saying they would be scared to meet someone with DID after seeing Split, I would have been willing to grin and bare it if the people who made this movie were not ignoring the DID community. Instead, we are left alone to combat our own villainization and attempt to show the world that we are not the dangerous people this film depicts us as.
As I strive to educate, all that I have is my voice and my community. I hope these words can make a difference. I hope that people know they don't have to fear me.