Week 9 Reflective Writing

I think theaters should make trigger warnings accessible. There is content in theater such as rape, abuse, suicide, that is important to talk about but may be harmful to some people. If you’ve experienced one of those things, you might not have the aesthetic distance to watch the show and providing information that tells you that before the show is important. The question is how public the warning should be and how much information they should share. I agree that “mature content” is too vague to be helpful. Does that mean there’s a rape scene or just a sex scene? Arguably both are mature, but the different emotions make them very different to watch. One article mentioned a vague warning on the theater’s website with directions to contact them about specifics. That seems like a very reasonable middle ground. Nobody’s viewing will be affected by possible spoilers and people who might be unduly affected can avoid the show.

I personally don’t think trigger warnings affect a viewing of a show. I saw a production of Spring Awakening and the playbill mentioned mature content and partial nudity, if I remember correctly. That show mentions suicide, abuse, sex, and has a scene where a character is (consensually) beaten with a switch. I knew the show going into the theater. And yet that scene was so emotional. I found it a little hard to watch and I can’t imagine what it would feel like to watch if I’d experienced that. If theater is done well, I think the audience should be responding to what’s happening onstage, regardless of what they know prior.

I understand the argument that trigger warnings might deter people. Either they learn it has x content in it and avoid it because that content is too close to home or they avoid it because they’re not comfortable seeing that right now. The first one is valid and important; without aesthetic distance, they’re not going to get anything from the show or enjoy it. The second one is hazier. I think there is an age where things may not be appropriate, especially if they are graphically described or seen, but there’s also a point where for many people it becomes discomfort because it’s bad and scary, which is what theater is trying to make a point about. I think that’s why I liked the idea of being able to contact the theater for a detailed trigger warning. It makes the information available to those who need it. Additionally, it’s pretty easy to look up a show online, and even with production variation, a lot of possibly triggering content is part of the plot.

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