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The Glamorization of Controversial Issues in TV and Film

It’s important to address sensitive and controversial topics in television and film. Oftentimes, however, these shows and movies can come off as glamorizing and using these issues for pure entertainment purposes.

For instance, Thirteen Reasons Why faced backlash for its portrayal of depression and suicide. Another example would be the depiction of Joe Goldberg, a killer and stalker, in Netflix’s YOU and how it caused some viewers to lust for him. Likwise, the brief movie trailer for Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile where Zac Efron plays Ted Bundy had many people upset about how the trailer seemed to romanticize the killer.

Do these shows and movies use controversial topics and issues as a mechanism for entertainment? And if yes, to what extent? Perhaps, it invites discussion and attention to these issues that people would not have become a part of had they not seen these shows and movies in the first place.

Analyze how shows and films approach controversial and sensitive topics, how viewers respond to it, and what this ultimately reveals about our society.

  • As I read this, I was thinking of "Lovelace" starring Amanda Seyfried, who played Linda Lovelace from the move Deep Throat. Essentially, "Lovelace" was two movies in one, showing different ways of looking at the main character. It might be possible to think of the movies you address being presented in the same way--perhaps an image that some might have versus something closer to the horror these individuals were. – Joseph Cernik 3 years ago
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  • I think about this topic often because stories of dealing with trauma, mental illness, etc. are some of the most engaging narratives, but the handling of these controversial issues are almost directly in conflict with the purpose of film and television - to entertain. Very few, if any, shows and films balance these purposes in a way that satisfies most viewers, but I do believe these issues need to be presented in these mediums since they are affecting a large portion of the societies they are released to. I would love to see this topic addressed in more detail to see if there is a potential structure or set of guidelines that should be followed to help present controversial topics in a healthier way. Lastly, Sharp Objects is another excellent example that graphically portrays issues such as trauma, self-harm, and depression with visceral detail that has been simultaneously praised as a raw exploration of difficult subjects and critiqued as entertainment designed to draw attention based on the grotesque, shock-value alone. It's a difficult line to tow, but it's an important one. Great topic! – Aaron 2 years ago
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  • I feel that Hollywood has capitalized on the exploitation of sensational events. I cannot believe the disgusting movie made about the two ten year old psychopaths that intentionally kidnapped and murdered a toddler. This film is being nominated for an award when in reality it is a gross display of manipulation trying to get the audience to feel sorry for two sociopathic narcissists. No consideration or remuneration was given to the mother of the victim and she repeatedly asked that the film not be made . The director wanted to profit and did not care about the mother, perhaps he is a narcissist too.He knew he was placing a mother in a living hell having to relive the murder of her baby. I think Hollywood has always lacked a moral compass and is disgusting, frankly.l I prefer films from Europe and Latin America. – youngmollflanders 2 years ago
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