Should shows come with a trigger warning?

Recently, a Netflix Original Movie, The Luckiest Girl Alive, has been making headlines. Critics and viewers are saying that the R rating isn’t enough and that the show should have a trigger warning.

Many shows do come with trigger warnings, and more of them probably should. At the bare minimum, most movies and TV shows come with an MPAA rating. MPAA stands for “Motion Picture Association of America.” Their rating system is meant to give viewers a heads-up for what’s to come. A little red flag. A really vague trigger warning, if you will. 

One common trigger warning is “Contains Sexual Assault and Violence.” But even that description is elusive. Is it referring to dialogue, a single scene, or are there multiple graphic scenes? That trigger warning can mean something different entirely from film to film. Again, viewers are being asked to put their trust in what’s “crossing the line” in the hands of a complete stranger. That’s quite the gamble.

The creators of The Luckiest Girl Alive set out to cover important issues, hoping to raise awareness and entice emotion from viewers. In a recent post, one of VidAngel’s customers said this about sexual abuse scenes, “Directors, writers, creators, and actors sing this song of shedding awareness or bringing light to the heartbreaking struggles that so many worldwide go through…If raising awareness is your goal, somebody already beat you to it.”

It shouldn’t be a surprise there’s a chance scenes dramatizing real-life events are difficult for survivors with PTSD to watch. We are here for and applaud creators that want to cover important issues. That’s honorable. We are also here to support viewers that struggle with PTSD. Stirring up emotion from viewers is a beautiful thing, but being the source of another panic attack is not. 

With VidAngel, you don’t have to be worried about a scene triggering you. Watch movies like The Luckiest Girl Alive without the graphic and violent scenes; get to the part that’s full of hope, healing, and vindication without the scenes that dramatize traumatic experiences. 

Because of your background or what matters to you, any one thing could send you spiraling. Does that make you spineless? Oversensitive? A snowflake? No. 

We know real life doesn’t come with a trigger warning. We know that real life doesn’t have a filter option. But we also know that you deserve a break from it. 

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