A Star Is Born Trigger Warning

The Motion Picture Association of America does what they can to alert audiences to the content within a movie with their inconsistent and confusing rating system. Not only do movies come with ratings that suggest parental guidance or restrict youngsters from seeing certain movies without a parent or guardian, but the ratings come with more specific information about why the film is given a PG or R rating.

But apparently the rating system in New Zealand wasn’t enough to protect people from being emotionally impacted by the recent release of A Star Is Born. After some audiences have found themselves troubled by a key sequence from the end of the film, the New Zealand ratings board is adding an extra bit of information to warn audiences who might not be prepared for the scene in question. The only problem is it’s quite the spoiler. So don’t read any further if you haven’t seen A Star Is Born.

The Guardian reports that two “vulnerable young people” found themselves “severely triggered” after watching the end of A Star Is Born. The scene that brought about this reaction is when Bradley Cooper‘s character Jackson Maine hangs himself in his garage in an effort to free Ally (Lady Gaga) from the burden of his alcoholism. We don’t see the act in question actually happen, but we see the preparation, and one shot lingers on the aftermath from a distance, showing his body hanging from the ceiling. It’s quite the tragic and unsettling image.

The Office of Film & Literature Classification received a complaint from these teens, as well as the Mental Health Foundation, and that’s prompted them to modify the description of the film’s rating. New Zealand’s board already gave the film an M-rating (which is their equivalent of an R-rating), making the film “unrestricted, suitable for 16 years and over due to “Sex scenes, offensive language and drug use.” But now the rating has added “and suicide” to the short list of rating reasons.

On one hand, it’s somewhat frustrating that the rating of a movie has to prepare audiences for what is meant to be a shocking and meaningful end to A Star Is Born. After all, if you’re watching the movie and you know a suicide is coming, it’s not hard to guess who that’s going to involve. On the other hand, it’s not as if the tragic ending of A Star Is Born is new, since the previous versions of the story ended the same way. But this is ignoring the more serious matter at hand.

David Shanks, the head of New Zealand’s film classification board, says, “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.”

Suicide is a shocking, tragic act. There are many people out there whose mental health can be pushed to the brink by something so troubling, especially those who might have considered suicide themselves. So while it might be easy to dismiss this precaution as being oversensitive, it doesn’t take much effort to warn people about this unnerving scene. Plus, at the end of the day, most moviegoers aren’t looking at the specific details of a rating anyway, so it likely won’t be spoiled for those who might otherwise be annoyed by the revelation. But maybe it’ll do some good for those who might otherwise be impacted by the ending.

A Star Is Born is playing in theaters everywhere now.

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