Shame on you Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Productions.
Shame on you.
When I walked out of the Incredibles 2 steaming mad, I tried to hold it together for my kids. They loved the movie, as well they should, and they had a great time. I, on the other hand, barely got out of the theater with my head on straight, and it took me a few hours to make sure that I was alright to drive home. As part of the special effects in the movie, they have a number of scenes that included flashing lights which can trigger seizures in those with photosensitive epilepsy.
I don’t have epilepsy, but I do have chronic vertigo and as soon as the first lights started to flash, I wanted to cry. I buried my eyes in my hands and kept whispering to my husband, “Is it over? Is it over?” And even when it was over, and the scene past, I spent the rest of the film worrying about when the flashes would return, and, of course, they did.
Most people don’t realize when they see flashing strobe lights that there are many, many types of people who can be violently and adversely affected by these conditions. These lights can set off my vertigo, sending me spinning out of control and completely debilitated for hours, if not days. I’m sure there are many other people who have hidden or quiet conditions and can end up with migraines, nausea and more.
Pixar. Give me a break. You have EVERY technique at your disposal. You can make a bad guy with absolutely any designs and dramatic comic technique up your sleeve. Why, oh why, would you make an effect that has been proven to cause seizures? And that can cause people, even those who don’t have epilepsy, to feel sick afterwards? Why should the Epilepsy Foundation need to spend its time warning the public about a situation that was so preventable? Not one person who pre-screened the film had the sensitivity to say, “Wait a minute here!” Not one person in the creation or production crew thought that it might be a problem? How can that possibly be??
And the after-the-fact apologies simply mean nothing. Theaters posted warning signs? Great. But what about the theaters that didn’t have warning signs, and the many people who saw the film before the warning signs went up? Disney asked theaters to warn audiences about the one scene with strobe (although there were more than one). Really? That’s the best you’ve got?
As I’ve stewed about this for the last few days it’s made me angrier and angrier. I feel like its emblematic of an utter lack of sensitivity or empathy in the world today. How is it possible that one of the biggest movie production studios in the world today, with every resource and every dime at their disposal, couldn’t come up with another solution?
Is the answer that you just don’t care? That it’s fun to cause trauma at times and pretend that you didn’t mean it later? Does the negative news drum up attention that you seek? Or are you that dumb?
None of these answers satisfy my need to know or my shock at the state of this movie. I think it reflects an absolute lack of sensitivity today towards the other; a lack of thinking about how people will receive your message and what it will do to them; a complete lack of thinking that there are real people out there who are being influenced by your words and your visuals.
After the fact apologies are completely worthless unless they bring about future changes. We all must learn from our mistakes and try not to make them in the future. And we must think about others and how they will receive our message.
Even when it’s “just” a movie, and definitely when it’s not.
Pixar, and all of us, can do better.