i remember the first time i saw a trailer for Split in the movie theaters. i was with family and the theater was full and i’d been mildly enjoying the trailers and perked up a bit when the tell-tale ominous music of a horror movie trailer started, because i love good thrillers.
except then it was frame after frame after frame of a person with dissociative identity disorder being portrayed as everyone’s boogey man, the shrieks of the little girl protagonists as he appeared wearing different clothes and a different voice, people in the theater jumping and giggling every time they showed the man doing something horrific. and i felt frozen in my seat.
my sister leaned over to me when it was finished and said “i want to see that” with a look on her face like it was the greatest trailer she’d ever seen.
like it wasn’t a punch to my gut everytime i heard someone whisper “psycho” or “crazy” and other terrible things. like in that moment i didn’t feel like running away from all these people, like i didn’t feel unsafe and filthy. because these people getting their thrills from a demonizing potrayal of a mental illness.
and the thing is, it matters.
because if i bring it up people will say “oh but it’s not really mental illness, like depression or something. he was just fucking crazy which is totally scary haha”. yeah well, not haha. not haha because DID is a real mental illness but that’s not what it looks like. people with DID aren’t murderers or dangerous. but now, because movies like Split are all people have seen of illnesses like DID, that’s their frame of reference.
the media does it with DID, with schizophrenia, with every single personality disorder, with bipolar, with everything else that is “scary”. raising awareness for depression and anxiety is important, they’re valid and serious illnesses. but hardly anyone tries to protect people with “scary” disorders. this halloween when costumes of the main character crop up, people will giggle and buy it because it’s so creepy and cool.
i’m reminded that, although i don’t have DID, much of my mental illness is defined by symptoms that are used in other horror movies. that people who have “scary” disorders are the entertainment in everyone else’s world. and for people who do have DID, that movie is absolutely devastating.
so if you buy a ticket to see Split, please know that’s it’s not harmless entertainment or a good thrill. it’s fucking ableism and you’re being ableist if you go see it.
(please reblog, neurotypical or not)