Culture

Professor: A University Placed a Trigger Warning on the Movie ‘Clueless’

Often, trigger warnings are more insulting than kind.

According to one anonymous professor, the film-studies program at a college in the Midwest has placed a trigger warning on the movie Clueless.

Clueless, in case you didn’t know, is a film about a bunch of high-school kids that the Motion Picture Association of America seems to think anyone age 13 or older can handle watching.

An anonymous film-studies professor at American University, however, told Heat Street that fellow film-studies professors and faculty members around the country have been placing trigger warnings on almost anything and everything as a way to “cover our a**** in case a student complains about what we have showed them,” and that Clueless is among those films.

“I personally think the movie rating system provides a sufficient trigger warning, but more and more academics are issuing them on the basis that it’s better to be safe than sorry,” the professor said.

According to the professor, the content in Clueless that’s apparently of concern is one character referring to a gay character as a “disco-dancing, Oscar Wilde-reading, Streisand ticket-holding friend of Dorothy.”

Yep. That.

Todd Berliner, a film-studies professor at the University of North Carolina, told Heat Street that he started using trigger warnings after he showed the film Festen, a dark movie about a family gathering, and a student approached him after saying he or she wished there had been a warning because he/she had been molested as a child.

“The warnings aren’t about offense, but to warn people who might be traumatized by scenes of rape, child molestation, or acts of violence and suffer post-traumatic stress as a result of what they see,” he said.

It is, of course, a good, kind thing to want to protect survivors of trauma from being re-traumatized. Can we all, agree, however, that feeling that adults need to be protected from hearing the phrase “disco-dancing, Oscar Wilde-reading, Streisand ticket-holding friend of Dorothy” is more insulting than kind? I’d bet money that any gay student in that class would have heard much worse before coming to college. What’s more, there’s no doubt that films and television that came out in the ’90s, such as Clueless, used less politically correct language. Isn’t there an inherent educational value to exposing yourself to things from the past? I would think yes.

#related#There’s also an inherent educational value to exposing yourself to things that make you uncomfortable. After all, both film and life itself are full of uncomfortable situations, and what separates those who are able to thrive despite those situations versus those who crumble because of them is how well they have learned to deal with them. Superfluous trigger warnings, “a**-covering” or not, are denying a generation of young Americans the ability to gain the kinds of skills that they will absolutely need to survive in the real world, and — no matter how the social-justice crowd tries to spin it — there’s absolutely nothing compassionate about that kind of denial.

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