Disney Warns Fans About Seizure Trigger in New 'Star Wars' Movie
The highly anticipated final installment of “Star Wars” is almost here, but a new warning issued by Disney and the Epilepsy Foundation may limit which fans can see the movie in theaters.
On Friday, the Epilepsy Foundation announced “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” contained imagery and flashing lights that may trigger seizures in people with photosensitive epilepsy. According to the Foundation, of the estimated 3.4 million people who live with epilepsy in the U.S., about 3% experience seizures triggered by flashing lights or certain visual patterns. Flashing light patterns can also trigger migraines.
“The film contains several sequences with imagery and sustained flashing lights that may affect those with photosensitive epilepsy,” the Epilepsy Foundation wrote in a press release. “We thank Disney for reaching out to us and proactively providing information to movie theatres and moviegoers in advance of the movie’s release.”
We appreciate Disney proactively putting out information about STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER containing several sequences with imagery and sustained flashing lights that may affect those with photosensitive epilepsy. Find tips for staying safe: https://t.co/RozkzfQkSc pic.twitter.com/JrPsl2EDpq
— epilepsyfdn (@EpilepsyFdn) December 6, 2019
While the Epilepsy Foundation and other advocates praised Disney for proactively alerting viewers to the potential seizure trigger, others took to social media to express dismay that Disney couldn’t tell the final “Star Wars” story without the seizure triggers so it would be accessible to all viewers.
“‘New star wars movie may trigger seizures for those with epilepsy’ why??” wrote one Twitter user who requested their username not be published. “You’re telling me a media conglomerate that’s basically a monopoly and makes 8 fucktillion dollars a week can’t find a handful of cgi experts that can make a movie look cool without being dangerous for some?”
Fuck you Disney. Fuck you. You do not need this stupid fucking effect if you think it might trigger a seizure, you just don't. Fuck you for putting it in a movie that everyone will see, fuck you for the inevitable seizures it will cause. Fuck. You. https://t.co/zryxBYYkiD
— Lee (@lee_g_b) December 8, 2019
Hi @Disney, it's come to attention that @starwars #TheRiseOfSkywalker wil have known triggers that cause epileptic seizures and migraines. What is being done to address this for the #epilepsy and #migraine communities so that we can watch the film? pic.twitter.com/VzeCJNV8Vt
— Missi Stone ????(Recovering from Covid!) (@HoneyBeeRock) December 7, 2019
Other movies and TV shows have come under fire for imagery that can trigger seizures, though not all of them issues a statement ahead of release like Disney. The animated “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” and Disney’s “Incredibles 2” included flashing lights that viewers warned each other about on social media. After two seasons of advocacy from viewers, Netflix included a seizure trigger warning for season three of “Stranger Things.”
Like with “Star Wars,” fans also pointed out that trigger warnings are a step in the right direction for considering the needs of all viewers. But continuing to include triggering lighting effects are often “unnecessary” and exclusionary, as “Stranger Things” fan Annika Josephson shared on Twitter.
“Thanks for the warning but that doesn’t negate the fact that all the best intense scenes were completely unwatchable.”
Ok @netflix were all the strobe light effects on stranger things really necessary? thanks for the warning but that doesn’t negate the fact that all the best intense scenes were completely unwatchable
— annika josephson (@annikaemj) July 5, 2019
“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” debuts in theaters nationwide on Friday, Dec. 20.
Header image via ‘Star Wars’ Facebook page