January 18, 2017
Dear Editors of The Oregonian, Columbian, Consumers of CVAB, NAMI, and DSHS;
As a mental health advocate I am calling for a boycott on M. Knight Shamalan’s new thriller movie, “Split.” This movie and it’s promotion represents an agredious monsterization of the very real and rather common mental illness known as Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly known as multiple personality). This movie is dangerous to the innocent lives of those who suffer with DID because of the outrageous and hysterical criminal dramatization of this illness can instigate high-pitched discrimination against those who suffer humbly and quietly and just want to be included in regular life. It is irresponsible of Shamalan and hollywood to create a stereotype that instigates fear and picks on a population that can’t or likely won’t fight back. Well, I can and will. Do “Split” viewers realize that those with mental illness are often pre-judged and denied basic rights due to hollywood – hysterical stereotypes? The parent who is denied custody of their children because of hollywood – induced superstitous and voodoo – based stereotypes, the housing that is denied or retracted because of fears of mental illness in the household of one’s neighbors, the relegation of the mentally ill to back-room jobs because of fears that they will scare away customers. Hollywood would never monsteritize a person of color in such a way, neither a political refugee, neither a person who lives in a power chair or whom has cerebral palsy or down’s syndrome or cancer or who is deaf or blind. As a mater of fact, these disorders are often heroized by hollywood. Their triumph over their race, victimization, disability and all the heartbreak and frustrations and mountains to climb are celebrated as a matter of inspiration. Where is that for those who do the same with their mental illness? Public! You are smarter than this, and better than this. Boycott “Split” and sound out your voice to portray DID sufferers accurately and informatively, not ignorantly and as monsters waiting to “unleash.” Cheap shot, Shamalan — are you going to donate profits from this National Enquirer – level film to better the daily lives of those who plod in their recovery from mental illness in quiet, everyday and rather nice ways? Or buy a new car? Picking on a segment of our society that can’t fight back is shameful raw exploitation of mental illness and disqualifies Shamalan from his profession. Public consumers, voice your preference with your wallet.
Heidi D. Hansen, M.A., Mental Health Advocate, Vancouver, WA