Have we produced a generation of softies?
Are we cultivating a marshmallow-centred citizenry who would take fright at the flapping of butterfly wings?
Is modern society responsible for a cohort of citizens incapable of dealing with life’s everyday upsets and vagaries without suffering a personal meltdown?
The actor Ralph Fiennes seems to think so and wants ‘trigger warnings’ in theatres banned.
Signposts at the beginning of a play, warning audiences You Might Find Some of This a Bit Tricky, are now commonplace.
‘Eyes pulled out’
The star was asked by the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg: “Have audiences gone too soft?”
He replied: “Yes I think they have. I think we didn’t used to have trigger warnings.
“I mean there are very disturbing scenes in Macbeth, terrible murders and things but I think that the impact of theatre should be that you’re shocked and you should be disturbed.
“As a young student and lover of the theatre I never experienced trigger warnings telling me by the way, in King Lear, Gloucester’s going to have his eyes pulled out.”
Fiennes is on to something I think – this could be the re-emergence of common sense and the recapturing of ground occupied by those whose infantile and emotionally immature views have gone too long unchallenged.
In many areas of life, from academia and politics to theatre and television, we’ve permitted a coterie of the censorious to decide what’s good for us and what’s permissible according to their dictat.
The Fiennes interview resulted in an interesting discussion on social media between some of those in agreement with his down-to-earth approach.
Rosie Kay – an artistic director, choreographer and dancer – argued trigger warnings don’t work and instead encourage a negative risk-averse atmosphere in our culture.
Lawyer Dennis Noel Kavanagh revealed he’d been asked to give a trigger warning before delivering a lecture on the law of serious sexual offences to students studying criminal law.
Goodness knows how any criminal law student needing a trigger warning would cope in the courtroom, given the brutal nature of the cases which they have to deal with.
The perpetually offended and dictatorial have always been with us.
But in recent times they’ve been allowed far too much free rein by those of us who’d rather not create a scene.
Fiennes’ feisty views on trigger warnings in the theatre should mark a curtain call for those in many other areas who want to fasten us tight with their narrow-minded opinions and views.
Such individuals have been unchallenged and have grown accustomed to railroading those of us who are easy going.
Within minutes of author and broadcaster Simon Fanshawe being unveiled on Monday as Edinburgh University Rector, his appointment was being assailed by those accusing him of being a transphobe.
‘Joanna Cherry re-tweet reaction’
It reminded me of my own time as Rector of Dundee University when some students claimed to have been triggered by the mere fact I’d had the temerity to re-tweet a post from Joanna Cherry.
I’d made no comment on Cherry’s thoughts. I’d simply put the KC’s views out into the social media ether, as I did with a variety of issues, since as a journalist I wanted to assess various opinions and thoughts on a range of matters.
My stance obviously proved too alarming for some sensitive souls but such dogmatic positions are no longer tenable.
The rest of us have finally been triggered by those who have tried to shut down all views except their own.