Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Movies that could trigger

I'm excited-- I have a goal. It's a goal I think I can easily reach, too. But before I announce my much-emphasized goal (did I mention that I have a goal?), I'm going to take a short detour.

This summer, I watched a fantastic movie called Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others). Very intense, with a tight plot and good acting. However, halfway through the movie, I started to panic, and then I went numb. It was the implied rape scene in the car and the following shower scene that triggered me. The shower scene, where she is huddled in the bath tub under scalding water and shivering, hit too close to home. The feeling of shock and disbelief, the feeling that you'll never be clean again-- the actress did such an amazing job of capturing that that I flashed back to my own feelings and memories.

It took me about an hour to unclench my fists and uncurl from my tense, hunched over position. I remember being so frustrated that I couldn't watch the movie without my own experiences tainting it.

And so here is a post about movies that have triggered me:

  • Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others): 
See above.

  • Borat:
Kind of self-explanatory? I couldn't watch more than half an hour of it. I went from staring at the screen in shock to feeling horribly dissociated to staring blankly into space and thinking about what had happened to me and how it wasn't funny. Terrible experience. As much as people seem to love this movie, I won't be attempting to watch it again.

  • Serenity:
That's the kicker. Yeah, I know, right? Let me preface this by emphasizing how much I love Firefly. I absolutely adore Firefly. But I got triggered during Serenity, and I went numb and had to stop watching it. I was *so* frustrated.

And now, my goal: to watch Serenity. I'm going to rewatch the Firefly episodes when I have the time, and then I'm damn well going to watch Serenity. Because I can, and because I want to. Because I think I am strong enough to, now. And because I think River Tam is the shit. :-D


  1. It's been quite a while since I've seen Serenity, but *shakesfist* JOSS!!! Ahem. I mean, good luck with that! :p
    Also I would totally be down for watching some Firefly next weekend if you want some company, since it's been quite a while since I've seen any Firefly episodes or movie (see above for corroboration).

    Also! You should see Doctor Who if you haven't already. I just ran out of episodes* and I am sad about that :(
    *new series, that is -- I saw a single episode of the old series one time, but don't currently have much interest in it.

    (I think Zoe's always been my favorite, followed by Mal and Wash in an approximate tie.)
    (Actually that's not true, because Book is also my favorite.)

  2. I was triggered once by a rape scene in one of the newer Hills Have Eyes movies (NEVER watch these, bad triggers). I didn't know there was going to be a rape scene. From now on I will look up in advance before I watch a movie, to make sure there isn't simulated rape.

    The suckier thing too, is that the boyfriend I was with at the time, who was watching this movie with me and had the remote, would not forward or skip the scene, despite my repeated urgent request to do so. Very dicky thing to do :(. I ended up having a very unexpected trigger; my heart beating very fast, my breathing fast and short, and tears pouring from my eyes. I didn't think I was going to react like that but it happened anyways.

    Another time, my professor in the Brain and Behavior psychology class I took talked about sexual trauma at one point in his lecture, and said "many victims will never be able to forget what happened" etc. Him saying these things triggered me to unexpectedly sob in the middle of the class. I was trying to be as discreet as possible in order to not have people notice me but I dunno, my head was lowered for the whole rest of the class. I should have anonymously sent him an email asking him to not speak in such a way (it wasn't even a PTSD or counseling class or something), and to let him know he should be careful of what he says in case it triggers students. I was distraught for the next couple of hours after that class. I think I will email him today, even though that class event happened two years ago

  3. I'm sorry that happened to you, both the movie with Dicky Boyfriend and the class with insensitive professor. I think it takes a great deal of courage to take action following a traumatic event or trigger, so I am glad you plan to email him. Hopefully that will give you some closure and help protect other students too.

    That's what I do with movies now-- I always ask some friends who have seen the movie if there is something that will trigger me. There are many movies that I wish I could see because they're very good but I don't think I could, like Precious, Boys Don't Cry, and Dead Man Walking.