Does A Star Is Born Need a Trigger Warning?

May contain spoilers....

Does A Star Is Born Need a Trigger Warning?

Before we go any further – please stop reading if you don’t want any spoilers! I’m not going to go into too much detail, but I certainly wouldn’t want to ruin the movie for you if you haven’t seen ‘A Star Is Born’ yet. Although, it’s not a new story line – it’s been made two other times (one starring Judy Garland and one starring Barbara Streisand) so I’m safe to talk about it, right?! Right. You’ve been warned. Let’s press on. 

So, ‘A Star Is Born’ – this generations epic love story. The 2018 Titanic. It’s about a big-time country rock singer, Jackson Maine, who stumbles upon Ally (Lady Gaga) in a drag bar. Instant chemistry ensues, as does an epic ballad and their relationship gives you the warm and fuzzies that could melt even the coldest of hearts.

However, said big time country music singer has some skeletons – he’s dealing with an addiction to alcohol. Amongst other things (deep-set family issues, partying, a problem with his hearing) and while he’s battling his demons and his music career seems to be on the down – Ally’s star is rising. 

I’ve spoken to a few people about the movie. It’s my favourite topic of conversation at the moment. Let’s talk about the soundtrack, Bradley Cooper’s tan, Gaga’s acting, which parts we cried in, Bradley Cooper’s face. I’ve put in some hours. But the one question that was posed to me recently that’s really made me think – does this movie need a trigger warning?

The movie deals with mature themes. Depression, suicide, addiction. Serious stuff and seriously traumatic for anyone that’s gone through anything remotely similar. People have tweeted about their experiences after watching the movie – some suffering from panic attacks, insomnia and some even needing to see a professional.  

So, what is a trigger warning? And how would we give people a trigger warning without ruining the movie?

Well, New Zealand’s head of film classification, David Shanks, has already given a trigger warning the thumbs up for NZ. It was after Police Victim Support responded to two vulnerable young people who felt ‘severely triggered’ by the movie. Shanks added "many people in New Zealand have been impacted by suicide. For those who have lost someone close to them, a warning gives them a chance to make an informed choice about watching."

I’ve never suffered from crippling depression. But I would be lying if I told you I didn’t cry the whole way home after I watched A Star Is Born. I would be lying if I told you I didn’t think of people close to me that have suffered at the hands of addiction and depression. I thought of Ally in the movie and her desperate attempts to help the man she loves and how isolating it can be when you feel so helpless. How hard it must be when you realise no amount of love you have will save them.

And Bradley Cooper playing Jack…Sheesh.. It was raw emotion. The subtle looks of exhaustion, it was the absent stare when he was too drunk and the remorse that comes with it. It was the guilt you could see weighing down on him, the frustration at himself towards the end of the movie – these moments touch a deep part of you if you’ve been a victim of a mental disease and can stay with you way well beyond leaving the cinema that night.

A trigger warning is a heads up, a tiny empathetic olive branch to look out for the sensitive souls around us. Because, once you’re watching the movie, there’s really no time to grapple with the tragic nature of it. 

Many people are loving this movie and deservedly so. That’s what a great movie does – makes us feel something as the credits roll up and the lights flick on.

And those fragile moments on the screen that play again in our head as we drive home or fall asleep at night should serve as little reminders that our life and the lives of our family and friends are precious. They deserve nurturing and maybe some deserve to be warned about the nature of the film too.

If you or someone you know needs to talk to someone – please call lifeline on 13 11 14

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