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M. Night Shyamalan and SPLIT Cast on Representation Controversy

Beware: Slight spoilers for Split can be found in the above video.

In the midst of summer blockbusters, Universal Pictures unleashed a reason to look forward to winter with the first look at M. Night Shyamalan‘s frenetic follow-up to The Visit, Split. The tense trailer promised an original thriller that boasts James McAvoy (X-Men: Apocalypse) as a ruthless villain menacing a trio of terrified teen girls. This sparked excitement among Shyamalan fans and horror enthusiasts. But its trailer was triggering for some, not only igniting concerns about Split’s depiction of the mentally ill, but also spurring a boycott petition.

Written and directed by Shyamalan, Split centers on Kevin (McAvoy) a Philadelphia man living with DID, Dissociative Identity Disorder (previously known as Multiple Personality Disorder). With 23 alternate personalities waging war for control of Kevin’s mind and body, he abducts an awkward teen (The WitchAnya Taylor-Joy) and her two friends for some mysterious–but surely dangerous–purpose. As time runs out, the girls must manipulate and battle against the most malevolent “alters” to escape with their lives.

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When we sat down with Shyamalan, McAvoy, and Taylor-Jones in New York, we posed the question that’s worried mental health advocates: Does making a person with DID a movie villain inherently vilify the mentally ill? Furthermore, what responsibility does the renowned writer-director feel when representing a real mental illness within a supernatural context? You can see their answers above.

Having heard what the cast and creator have to say, what do you make of Split’s representation of DID? Let us know in the comments, and make sure you check out the rest of our interview below:

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