Ralph Fiennes is not a fan of trigger warnings

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Ralph Fiennes is not a fan of trigger warnings, suggesting that audiences have gone soft and should be shocked and concerned by what they see.

Ralph Fiennes, forward warnings

Are audiences too soft these days? Ralph Fiennes thinks so, at least when it comes to needing trigger warnings in the theater. Fiennes is currently starring in a modern-day remake Macbeth, which, as every high school student knows, features some gruesome murders. Some theaters have reportedly been offering trigger warnings before the production, and Fiennes is not a fan.

Asked by the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg if audiences have gone soft, Fiennes said, “I think so. I don’t think we used to have trigger warnings. I mean, there are some very disturbing scenes in Macbeth, gruesome murders and things. But I think that the effect of theater should be that you are frustrated and that you should be worried.

Fiennes said, “I don’t think you should be prepared for these things, and when I was young, we never had trigger warnings for shows. Shakespeare’s plays are full of murder, full of terror. As a young student and lover of the theatre, I never got the trigger warnings telling me: ‘Anyway, in ‘King Lear,’ Gloucester is going to gouge his eyes out.’ The shock, the unexpected, is what makes an actor, theater so exciting.” The actor said that warnings for things that could affect people physically, such as strobe effects, should remain.

In recent years studios have added content warnings to some movies and TV shows, especially older ones that may include old stereotypes. Recently, the British Film Institute issued a provocative warning revisited James Bond composer John Barry. “Please note that many of these films contain language, imagery or other content that expresses ideas that were common in their time, but which cause offense today (as they did at the time),” read the warning. “The titles are included here for historical, cultural or aesthetic reasons, and are in no way endorsed by the BFI or its partners.

In response, the BFI said: “While we have a responsibility to preserve films as close as possible to their contemporary accuracy, even where they contain language or imagery that we categorically reject, we also have a responsibility to how we present them to our audience. The promotional warnings/content warnings we provide in all of our exhibition spaces and online platforms are a guide that a film or work reflects the views of the time in which it was made and could cause offence.

Are trigger warnings leaving audiences too soft or do they have a place?

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