“Okay. Okay. Let’s get on with the show. I promise not to get upset.” That’s what I think when starting every TV event because I’m being blasted with all the gibberishy nonsense regarding what I’m about to watch that may possibly in the eyes of someone somewhere upset me in some trivial or possibly major way if I am sitting improperly clothed in a go-cart by the light of the moon in a corn field recently used as a launching pad for the Jeepers Creepers beast. I mean, c’mon, isn’t the Rating System enough?
As of 1996 this is what we have:
- Rated G: General audiences – All ages admitted.
- Rated PG: Parental guidance suggested – Some material may not be suitable for children.
- Rated PG-13: Parents strongly cautioned – Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
- Rated R: Restricted – Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
- Rated NC-17: Adults Only – No one 17 and under admitted.
That seems sufficient to me. If it’s G, I don’t intend to watch it because it will be too lame. If it’s PG maybe, but probably not. PG-13 might have some dirty stuff and the expletives may fly out of control for a scene or two, so I’ll chance it. R means there will be lots of cussing, violence and sexual innuendos. I’m all in. If it’s NC-17 (which I don’t recall ever seeing) it’ll probably be a terrible movie pretending to be porn. So, why does the media feel the necessity to add more warnings to each offering?
How did the warnings start? No one brought my attention to Barney Fife pulling out his bullet-less gun, Elly May acting too sexy, Coyote trying to kill Roadrunner, Dick Van Dyke almost kissing Mary Tyler Moore before he trips over the ottoman, Popeye punching out Bluto, Curly whoop whooping his way through unintentionally humiliating someone while Moe slaps him silly, or some secretary in some show lighting up a cigarette. Do you get my drift? Today all those things can be considered hurtful if even thought about, so be warned.
I get it. Society changes and so do moral norms. Movies and television shows during the 60s were wholesome and free from meddling by those who would school us regarding what we should watch. We only had three stations, so how much damage to our psyche could there be?
The first time I heard cursing on TV (I think it was “ass”) I didn’t necessarily hold my hand over my mouth in shock and putter away from the screen, but I did notice.
It’s not so much that cussing, and the occasional exposed nipple brought about the need for trigger warnings, but that society has gotten so fragile that everybody deserves to have their feelings addressed. I’ll give you an example of an all-encompassing farcical notice: “Depictions of child neglect / abuse / abandonment, extreme poverty, alcoholism, Domestic violence (repeated, overarching theme), (Attempted) sexual assault, murder, multiple storylines of sexual assault, including a workplace harassment plotline, a Gay Pride parade, a villain as a serial abductor/assaulter of women, resulting in forced pregnancies, incest, drug use, there is a suicide, a violent scene involving a car, a food fight, a kid putting peanuts up his nose, supernatural horror, some creepy images, jumpscares, fighting over a parking space, spurting blood, drinking of cheap fortified wine, dog taking a dump, spider walking up a girl’s arm, smoking, racism, classism, discomfort caused by a character inserting a pair of contact lenses which could be uncomfortable for people who are sensitive to seeing someone touching their eyes, Knock Knock and Yo’ Mama jokes, panty hose laid over a chair, skid marks on underwear, back view of some guy peeing on a bush, ice cream cone dropped on the ground, vomiting, eating bugs, etc.”
Ridiculous, huh? Maybe we should have a button added to our remotes to allow us to skip past or hide the trigger warnings. For the moment, I’ll just suffer through them and hope the movie or show was worth all the cautionary advice.
Bake My Fish