Christmas Media Controversy: An Opinion

This post contains spoilers for A Star is Born.

There’s one thing that really sticks out to me in the midst of the debate about Baby, it’s Cold Outside, the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer special, and Fairy Tale of New York, and that’s a general lack of willingness. Willingness to even open one’s self to another point of view. We have one camp using the term snowflake to describe those who are “offended” by the insinuations in Baby, it’s Cold Outside or the bullying in Rudolph, and then another camp using the term snowflake to describe those who are up in arms about questioning institutional and traditional pieces of art.

People call each other snowflakes for talking about trigger warnings—to the point where the word triggered carries no weight, but there’s a large misunderstanding as to what being triggered actually is. When someone quits drinking, their friends stop offering them booze and sometimes get weird enough to ask, is this okay you? if they partake themselves. They’re on the look out for triggers. We as a society have agreed to the fact that if you have been addicted to opioids in the past, you should not be given opioids in the future for any reason—because we’re on lookout for triggers. We advise sex and love addicts to start relationships with daytime dates, because we’re looking out for triggers.

I’ve been sitting on a post about A Star is Born because I’m worried about what people will feel about my desire for a trigger warning attached to that movie. When Jackson Maine kills himself, it crushed me. As soon as he mentioned a past attempt to his therapist in recovery, I knew how the movie would end—and I dreaded it. As a denouement, the moment was incredible; the image of him hanging in his garage from afar is incredible—but the problem is that Bradley Cooper is a great director. The purpose of art is to generate a feeling in those who experience it—and in that moment, I was Jackson Maine. I have tried to kill myself. I hold a secret fear that somewhere in the depths of my future, there may be another attempt, and the way the scene was directed transported me into the depths of my own hell—a place that I’ve made very strong strides away from. I was triggered. It got me for days and days. I bawled in the theatre, I cried myself to sleep. I’m crying now. Emotional scars sit deep, and even in the midst of a happy life—walls can break down. That’s the inherent risk in art.

When I hear of people talking about trigger warnings on things that explicitly feature rape, I think it’s a no-brainer, as I think most rational humans would. But, as we move the needle of severity from the actual act of rape, back to the situation afoot in Baby, it’s Cold Outside, we lose something important. Something that I believe is the meaning of life: keeping sight of our humanity. We don’t get to decide each other’s experience—but yet some of us insist on giving more value to rapidly outdating institutions than our fellow human being’s experiences.

I’m not one for pulling Baby, it’s Cold Outside, because it gives people a conversation starter about misogyny. I’d never want to pull Fairy Tale of New York, but I am for censoring the word F****t. No one needs that word on the radio. Art is about context, and a lot of people forget that music isn’t just someone singing their feelings. It can be a story, it can be a play, it can be a dialogue. Some of the most famous songs in recent memory are clear folk-tales (Stan being the big one that comes to mind), yet we decidedly pick and choose which songs not to allow their artistic statement at moments like this.

Baby, it’s Cold Outside is a song written in 1944, where we all know things were different in the socially acceptable dynamic between men and women. It’s why Mad Men had seven seasons—we loved that show for it’s realistic portrayal of the same thing that Baby, it’s Cold Outside is about. The main difference is the perceived sincerity because of when the song was written.

This is a highlighted moment of where we, as a society have decided to neglect artistic context of what we’re examining, as well as negate the effects of our brothers and sister’s experiences on their real and tangible lives. Somehow, we’ve all lost this one; it’s become black and white. You either agree that it’s a rape anthem and want it pulled, or you think “why’s everybody gotta get so offended over nothing” and love the song as a classic. There’s no nuance to the conversation—but nothing in life is black and white. Combat Jack used to say, “life flows in technicolour,” and that is the fundamental truth to our nature. We’re cheating ourselves out of coexistence by pretending that it’s any other way.

See you tomorrow.