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Illuminations from the throne

Viewer discretion advised.

About to watch a movie.
Photo Credit: Jeshoots

I thought I was getting used to the cautionary messages you often see before the start of a movie these days. But I saw one last night that struck me as a bit bizarre.

Modern values don't align with those of yesteryear. Unless a bit of surgical editing is possible, a movie can be an uncomfortable snapshot of outdated notions that aren't acceptable today. If there are such prevalent themes as misogyny, negative stereotyping, even smoking, then we need to be warned we're about to witness such horrors.

So, movie night. I went through the usual ritual of scrolling through the latest options, pausing at a possible candidate, reading the preview then returning to the menu so I could scroll some more. This loop usually (not always) ends with a selection. It helps if you're alone for the evening. Matters are more complicated when you have company on the sofa with whom an agreement must be reached before you get to Z - or before one person abandons the idea entirely and decides to play jewels instead.

But this was one of those less arduous occasions and a choice was quickly made. I wasn't surprised to see a message appear on the screen before the movie started. I was when I read it.

This movie features an unlikeable female protagonist. Viewer discretion is advised.

Huh? I felt my face rearrange into one of its puzzled look configurations. Would a warning be necessary if I was about to watch an unpleasant male protagonist? I'll certainly be on the lookout for that now but as long as this article is still live, I've yet to see it.

I could almost understand if no gender was specified. Some people are way too easily upset and if there's going to be some meanies in the movie they're settling down to watch, perhaps it's best they're prepared. But it seems some of us are touchy enough to be offended if the main female character, in particular, is not a very nice person.

Have complaints been made to script writers or movie studios that women shouldn't be portrayed this way? I wouldn't be surprised but it's more likely that content providers have become so terrified of a backlash, they feel it's necessary to warn us of anything that might have the slightest possibility of causing, even a handful of people, the slightest bit of offence.

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