The New York Times theatre section published this garbage piece on content warnings today titled "Brace Yourself in Act II: Trigger Warnings Come to the Stage"

And I wrote a response because I'm absolutely exhausted by this argument that content warnings "ruin" art:

@SuzanEraslan I have no problem with CWs, but one line in the article did strike a chord with me - 'to preserve art’s ability to surprise, shock and stir'.

Sometimes I do like to go into a film or a show totally blind. In a kind of meta-CW, I'd like to be warned when the warnings will display so I can avoid them lol

Occasionally a CW can spoil a plot-point or telegraph a scene so I'd be in favor of alternative means of delivering CWs where a viewer has the choice to read them or not.

@letthewatersroar I’m not going to rehash what I wrote in my response, but if you want to know what I think about that, you can go read it. ☺️

@SuzanEraslan I did read it! I also read the NY Times article too.

It was just easier to respond here than on your website. Seemed a little roundabout

@letthewatersroar Oh, yeah, I’d prefer here than there, LOL. (I even forgot comments were turned on...)

I think “spoiler” culture is super toxic to arts appreciation, which is a whole other post in and of itself, but I also realize that defining how people experience art is not for me to unilaterally arbitrate. In the future I’ll make it a decision my audiences can have as to whether they want to be given the CWs or would prefer to take the risk without. (So thanks for the feedback!)

@SuzanEraslan It was a really good read btw, I agreed with pretty much everything you said. I found the Frankenstein trivia especially really interesting, that's a pretty solid silver bullet for the 'millennial' criticisms.

To be honest, the situation I presented is very much in the minority. It's not something I worry about 95% of the time, but every now and then I enjoy experiencing something just totally blind. I just thought it was a valid caveat to raise in the spirit 1/2

@SuzanEraslan 2/2

of making art accessible and as you/Giles said, caring about the audience, so I think it's great you're so willing to take that into consideration!

I'd love for there to be more creative instances of CWs like in Comedy of Errors, making them an extension of the performance or work would be great. It would probably go a long way to normalizing them for those who will stubbornly insist they're 'ruining' art.

(also, grrr at Mastodon's character limit)

@walruslifestyle I’ve just been so exhausted by this conversation for the last 8(?) years that it’s been going on in NYC theater that I figured it was time to write something down I could just keep linking back to... since this is apparently never going to end.


What about strobe light warnings? They're around the same as trigger warnings only difference is they're physical or mental

Hm, nyt, did you ever think about that?

Thank you

@Food They apparently don’t find those to be problematic because they create “real” 🙄 physical danger.


I always mention how the new york times allowed an op ed about how history had stopped in the 90s and there was now nothing to do

@Food Oh my god, do you remember the headline of this? I am dying to read and mock this.


I cant find it right now I'll look in depth when I have some time

I think it had to do with the end of the soviet union and how USA was the only world power

NYTimes is only a little bit less worse than its conservative flipsides

Same paradigm, time for a whole new paradigm

I'll have to give a shoutout to some quality news sources of our times asap


I really enjoyed your take on this. As a circus theater maker, I've been thinking about how to do this when we (very rarely) explore heavier material. So far, we've made sure those types of performance pieces only go into shows intentionally billed as 'dark' or 'adult themed', which is a light sort of CW.

I see we need to do better of we go further.

@RussSharek You can even make a little booklet or something that has the CWs in it so that people can choose to read them or not-- I am OK with the idea that some people would rather risk it than have spoilers, but I don't think that's a reason not to provide them. There are ways to accommodate everyone that are pretty easy.

Also, read Harry Josephine Giles's essay, because it is absolutely critical reading for all artists, I think.


Thanks for the resource. I'm sharing this with a few friends outside of the fediverse.


Reading the opening of the essay and thinking, "Premise: Caring is punk as #$%&"

Love it.

@RussSharek Right?! It's so. so. good. I've read this essay at least 12 times, and it never stops being amazing.


Reading about the change in audiences over time, i realize I've used a nearly the same explanation to describe how the role of the theatrical clown has evolved over the years.

you mention, briefly, how everyone knows romeo and juliet, but worth noting is that even the very first audience didn't go in sans spoilers and content warnings, as the prologue basically outlines the whole plot and warns for violence, bloodshed and suicide.

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