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Beyond Gratuitous Sadness: Unmasking Trauma Porn in Film and Literature

Discuss how to discern genuine quality from exploitative storytelling. Gratuitous sadness in movies and books is a contentious issue, with some works blurring the line between genuine emotion and exploitative storytelling. To determine if a movie or book is truly good or just trauma porn, readers and viewers can look for key indicators. Examining the intent behind the portrayal of sadness, evaluating the depth and complexity of character development, and considering the impact on the audience’s emotional well-being are crucial factors to consider. For example, novels like "A Little Life" by Hanya Yanagihara and the 2023 movie "Close" by Lukas Dhont, have sparked debates on the fine line between authentic emotional storytelling and gratuitous trauma exploitation. Understanding these nuances can help discern between quality storytelling and sensationalized trauma porn.

  • I think how you define "genuine quality" and "truly good" should either be elaborated on; or, the effects of gratuitous sadness should be judged according to a less subjective measure than goodness and quality, for example, by authenticity – Yusra Usmani 1 year ago
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  • A good place to look for uses of 'trauma porn' is within the BooTok world, particularly when it comes to the dark romance genre. An example of this is 'Haunting Adeline' which exploits conspiracy theories, sexual assault and stalking. This book is on the USA Today Bestsellers list and only moving up the ranks. It is definitely an example of exploitative storytelling. – morgantracy 6 months ago
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Taken by Kayley (PM) 1 week ago.

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