Judi Dench gives her take on trigger warnings

Dame Judi Dench doesn’t agree with adding trigger warnings to the start of plays, saying it removes the element of surprise.

trigger warnings

Trigger warnings serve the purpose of letting audiences know that some material in the work – a film, TV show or stage production – may be offensive or outdated. But they are also seen as catering to “woke culture” and those who might be labeled “overly sensitive.” As such, many celebrities have spoken out against trigger warnings, with the latest being none other than Dame Judi Dench, who, on the cusp of turning 90, has no time for such nonsense.

As per Radio Times, Judi Dench seemed more concerned that trigger warnings robbed audiences of shock and surprise. “That’s why we go to the theatre, isn’t it? To be shocked, to be arrested out of ourselves, to recognise ourselves in front and with an audience…My God, it must be a pretty long trigger warning before King Lear or Titus Andronicus! Crikey, is that really what happens now?”

Dench went on to say that if you are somebody who needs trigger warnings prior to going into a play, maybe it’s just not for you. “I can see why they exist, and it is preparing people, I suppose, but if you’re that sensitive, don’t go to the theatre, because you could be very shocked. Where is the surprise of seeing and understanding it in your own way?…Why go to the theatre if you’re going to be warned about things that are in the play? Isn’t the whole business of going to the theatre about seeing something that you can be excited, surprised, or stimulated by? It’s like being told they’re all dead at the end of King Lear. I don’t want to be told.”

Studios and film institutions have been slapping trigger warnings to the beginning of everything from Disney movies to the James Bond franchise, normally related to outdated representations of race and sex. Sure, proper context should be given when necessary, but there is also the stance that tacking on such disclaimers is ultimately insulting to the viewer, as if there is no trust in them to determine if something was “of the time” or not.

This was part of the point that Cate Blanchett raised in her lashing of trigger warnings, adding that modern viewers are too afraid to have tough conversations related to such topics. Ralph Fiennes took an even closer stance to Judi Dench, saying that there is no reason for viewers to be prepared ahead of time for any content found within a play.

Do you agree with Judi Dench’s assessment on trigger warnings? Have they gone overboard or are they necessary in today’s society? Give us your thoughts in the comments section below.

Source: Radio Times

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Mathew is an East Coast-based writer and film aficionado who has been working with JoBlo.com periodically since 2006. When he’s not writing, you can find him on Letterboxd or at a local brewery. If he had the time, he would host the most exhaustive The Wonder Years rewatch podcast in the universe.