This essay sets up a parallel between two (by now) widespread ways to call for or claim unwatchability: censorship and so-called trigger warnings. My starting point is that the refusal or the prohibition to watch might sometimes not protect at all from what it is meant to protect from. Paradoxically, the gesture of averting one’s eyes or covering one’s ears can reproduce or even enforce a traumatic reaction. Just ask yourself: have you ever been haunted by what you have not seen, or only caught a glimpse of before looking away? I am not categorically against or for censorship or trigger warnings but see them as serving various purposes in various contexts. In this essay, however, I ask if a refusal, a ban, or otherwise denied engagement based on a (potential) affective reaction can actually dramatize that reaction and obscure other issues that should require attention. This question concretized in my experience of teaching the film Fat Girl (À ma soeur!, 2001), directed by Catherine Breillat.
|Title of host publication||Unwatchable|
|Editors||Nicholas Baer, Maggie Hennefeld, Laura Horak, Gunnar Iversen|
|Publisher||Rutgers University Press|
|Publication status||Published - 2018|
|MoE publication type||A3 Part of a book or another research book|