On Jan. 18, director M. Night Shyamalan’s newest film hit theatres under the title “Glass.” The film, along with its predecessors, “Unbreakable” and “Split,” didn’t come without some backlash. Shyamalan is well-known for his plot-twisting tales and take on reality, however many are starting to wonder if this worrying trilogy has taken it too far.
At first glance the films are nothing out of the ordinary, following fairly typical thriller or horror tactics to both market and play out a plot line. And, as intriguing as these tales may be, there’s a serious issue lying just beneath the surface: the use of mental illness and disability as a gimmick that quickly translates to evil in just under two hours on screen.
Each of these films display an individual with a difference and quickly make them the bad guy. This theme is woven into each of the three movies and although there has been some positive shift in the stigmas behind mental disorders and/or handicaps, these stigmas still exist. Using these often misjudged and misunderstood biases to form the plot line of a movie is one thing, but to display them as villains is shameful.
Trauma and pain of those suffering from already under-researched and stigmatized conditions shouldn’t be used to fuel a plotline. And while it’s true that “it’s just a movie,” real people suffer from these issues. Some believe that these movies shine a light on these touchy topics. But if the only understanding someone has on these conditions is an over-dramatic and maniacal movie, how are we any farther ahead?
Simply put, being different doesn’t equate to being a villain as these movies would suggest. And, that kind of toxic mentally can be extremely detrimental, not only for those with these differences, but for those who take these unrealistic presentations as fact.