This film contains unlikable female protagonist.

This is the content warning for NOT OKAY, currently streaming on Hulu.

Just in case you missed that, there was a content warning for unlikable female protagonist. FYI- there’s sex and drug use in the film, and I think smoking, but yeah…the threat is the unlikable female protagonist.

Do we need to be warned of an unlikable character before watching a movie?

Have trigger warnings gone too far? (This question is for you- I’m guessing you know my feelings about trigger warnings)

As we began watching the movie, my daughter noticed this warning before I did- to be fair I was still settling in my chair with my water bottle. If my daughter hadn’t been in charge of the controls I might have missed this little tidbit.

Are characters in books and movie and entertainment supposed to be likable? Are we supposed to believe that the world is paved with unicorns and rainbows and we never should deal with stress, or an unlikable person?

I worry about the kind of audience that society is producing that wants to know before hand if something might be unpleasant. How are they prepared for life? If you think everything in front of you is going to be a straight, flat path, how will you ever learn to deal when life hands you lemons?

Does anyone think that life is easy?

I can’t continue writing without getting angry, so I’ll leave it at this.

What do you think of this content warning?

Do you think they would have a content warning about an unlikable man?

Do you think we’ve produced a society of young adults that can persevere and be resilient in the face of adversity?

Are people scared of the messy bits?

Discuss

I’ve written about trigger warnings in the past: https://wakinguponthewrongsideof50.com/2021/02/18/trigger/ https://wakinguponthewrongsideof50.com/2021/05/25/no-triggers-except/

76 thoughts on “Anything Can Happen Friday: Unlikable Female Protagonist

  1. This one is so egregious to me! I want to say I can’t believe they did that. But then, who is “they”?

    Hell no. No way there’s a similar warning for an unlikeable man! They would have to put that on every movie or show ever!

    If there’s nothing unlikeable about the movie/book/story, then there’s no conflict. And movies with no conflict are BORING. And the conflict always comes through the characters and how they’re portrayed.

    But I guess it’s so customary to see men cast as unlikeable characters, whereas maybe not so much for female characters? Still… are we so soft as a society?? I would hope not.

    And I also find it interesting that in an age of woke-ness, especially in the film industry, where ageism, racism, and sexism are rooted out and exposed so frequently, that this labeled would even be allowed?? This speaks of a certain…duplicity, I think?

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Great comment. Maybe we should be more specific and totally OUTLAW movies with nasty females. Films like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Fatal Attraction, Bonnie and Clyde… I could go on and on. Oh the horror these women bring to mankind and the evil they stand for. (My tongue is firmly planted in my cheek.)

      Liked by 4 people

    2. It is ridiculous now- the warnings films are expected to give. One the other day -‘This film contains product placement’ .. and??? Am I offended the guy flashed his Rolex even though I am not interested? No.
      What? Now people have to be warned of an unlikeable character?
      Its all gotten very stupid indeed.
      Yes, we are soft as a society.

      Liked by 5 people

  2. I didn’t think I had any strong feelings about this until I got to your question, “Do you think they would have a content warning about an unlikable man?” And then the reaction in my body was palpable – probably 53 years of pent up trying to be likable! 🙂 No, I don’t think they would have. And no, I don’t think life is easy and we need to raise kids that are resilient enough to face the unexpected. Interesting post, LA!

    Liked by 5 people

  3. People WANT life to be easy, maybe even have the expectation that others will make it easy for them and yes dealing with *stuff* is hard and messy and not taught in Life 101. The trigger warning: sexist- absolutely. Given what the movie is about I speculate this warning was very intentional and not a warning at all.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The movie wasn’t satire, and if anyone classified it as such they should go back to college and retake the class on satire and irony. There was an agenda but I’m not tactful enough to discuss it rationally

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Good God. Thank you for the warming about the dreaded flashing lights. Forget the violence, we are so used to that, drug use, what is a modern show without that, nudity, we are not prudes. But lights and then throw in an objectionable female, an unlikeable person. Heaven help us all!
    Objectionable warning? Absolutely. We have gone so far to warn ourselves of such minor things that we let the real problems, really objectionable scenes slide. This label is the real culprit. That and the person who thought we needed it. My best advice here is to change the proverbial dial. Let the ratings speak for themselves.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. OMG, an unlikable woman! Imagine?! Maybe she makes her husband/partner do the dishes, too?! Or becomes abusive when drunk? Or slaps her partner? This is a warning??? In a country where people can carry concealed weapons … I won’t go any further. Grrr.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. True, but if it is overly sexual, violent, etc. Parents should be warned. It’s amazing to me what shows parents allow their children to watch at any age, because THEY want to watch it, so they don’t consider that a child is not ready for that stuff.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I thought you were joking in the earlier post when you mentioned a warning about an unlikable female protagonist. That really is taking trigger warnings too far. The next remake of Pride and Prejudice will probably have the warning, “This film includes an unlikable male protagonist (but don’t worry, things change and there’s a happy ending).” But then, as you note, they probably wouldn’t be concerned if the unlikable character were male. Such warnings are absurd and insulting to viewers—implying we don’t have the brains to discern characters’ “likability” for ourselves, or we’re snowflakes who can’t deal with unpleasant human behaviors. Flashing lights, excessive violence, even nudity I can understand, but likability is a bridge too far.

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  7. This is my second time around with that “warning,” and I am still shaking my head. As to “Do you think we’ve produced a society of young adults that can persevere and be resilient in the face of adversity?” I really fear for our future. When I think of what my parents went through with the Great Depression and what generations before have endured in the World Wars, I can imagine a future generation that absolutely crumbles when things go the least bit wrong. They want to snuggle up with their blankies and take no responsibility for anything.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. My guess is that the warning is posted simply because the company does not want to get sued by some group that is protesting something or other. Since I have one son in the film and tv industry, I do know that the equality guidelines in that business are very strict and constantly being updated. And my guess is, that In trying to make everything equal and not offend anyone, they invariably offended half the population. In today’s world, film makers like to show strong, independent women in their movies. However, in doing so, then women are thrown into the same vat as men, and on film can now reveal more depth of character. Which naturally leads to more complex female portrayals in both film and television. That can open up law suits if certain groups are offended. So they obviously tried to cover their behinds. There is progress in the entertainment industry and they are attempting to improve standards. But in doing so they obviously wrote a sexist warning. And it trivialized the film audience’s intelligence. ( Because Everyone on the planet knows villains or heroes can be male or female or anything in between).

    However, my gut tells me the warning was strictly a move to prevent a law suit. Just like now they film children using twins because they are following child labor laws etc. So, new guidelines are constantly being enforced. And each studio and or company has their own department that deals with legal issues, their workshops and new guidelines etc.
    An example … my son told me not to ever text him using emoji’s because on set they had several workshops about what was deemed offensive emoji’s. ( I had no idea what some of those emoji’s meant). Some were ridiculous but he sent me a list of what the studio felt was offensive. He wanted to make sure I never used them because he knew I’d be clueless.

    I think that particular studio missed the boat with their warning. They meant well but should have made it a gender neutral warning. It’s standard practice to use warnings for under age children. Now they just need to catch up with the proper terminology.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Beyond the absurdity of actually having a sexist, gendered warning … what exactly are they worried about. And in whose subjective mind are we deciding what unlikeable looks like? I’ve not seen the film but this classification in itself is subjective, stupid and insulting

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  10. (I posted this earlier, but it didn’t look like it connected, so trying again)
    I thought you were joking in the earlier post when you mentioned a warning about an unlikable female protagonist. That really is taking trigger warnings too far. The next remake of Pride and Prejudice will probably have the warning, “This film includes an unlikable male protagonist (but don’t worry, things change and there’s a happy ending).” Although, as you note, they probably wouldn’t warn about unpleasant males. Such warnings are absurd and insulting to viewers—implying we don’t have the brains to discern characters’ “likability” for ourselves, or we’re snowflakes who can’t deal with unpleasant human behaviors. Flashing lights, excessive violence, even nudity I can understand, but likability is a bridge too far.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. There’s a call that this was supposed to be satire, but then they shouldn’t include trauma, which the film does talk about and I understand how someone can be triggered by that…however you look at it, it’s bad

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    1. Not Okay on Netflix. It’s about a 20 something women who does something wrong essentially without giving away anything. Some call it a satire, but it’s not…whoever calls it satire doesn’t understand the subtle nuances of satire, nor how a true satire would end (like don’t look up or dr. Strangelove) it’s an agenda film and it falls flat

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I have never heard of a warning against an unlikeable female protagonist. Everytime I think I’ve heard it all, something else comes along to show what a woosy society we have become. How do people even survive anymore? Sheesh…

    Liked by 2 people

  12. It makes no sense to me and makes me wonder about the future once again! What are we teaching??? Gee, how I wish there was a rulebook in life that said, Warning! This curveball is coming … Warning! You aren’t going to like what happens ..!
    Like you said, Life isn’t all about unicorns and rainbows and there aren’t Warnings, you just live life!

    Liked by 3 people

  13. This “warning” has no place on any movie. What about unlikeable male protagonists? They are usually in EVERY movie. And what about in books? On television shows? Commercials? Yikes — I can’t believe how far my nose has been pushed out of joint!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know some thing there’s a case to be made for this being satire, but then you wouldn’t have included trauma in the disclaimer. Then that would mock people who are triggered by trauma

      Liked by 1 person

    1. In the sense that it got us talking yes. But the director included it because focus groups asked why the main character was so unlikable. There’s some who call this movie satire…which it’s not, but maybe the bigger problem is that some don’t understand what satire is, or they were trying to classify what’s essentially a bad movie.

      Liked by 2 people

  14. “Do you think they would have a content warning about an unlikable man?” That’s exactly what i was waiting for while reading the whole blog. I got really pissed off by that disclaimer. When will people stop having issues with women. I’ve never seen such a disclaimer about an ‘unlikeable men’. Why do women characters always have to be impressive? Is that written in some rule book or what??

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Intrigued, what was the movie ? What bothers me most is that its a warning for an unlikeable pro as opposed to antagonist. An unlikeable protagonist reads like someone does for the good in an unhinged way. Were they a mentally ill heroine ? You are probably right that it would probably never say the same for a male character. The warning writer sounds sexist.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. This is one of these most interesting things that I’ve seen: an unlikable female protagonist right up there with sex and drugs, huh lol

    I’m pretty sure we are digging ourselves into a big hole with these trigger warnings. I recently told someone that your trigger is not my responsibility and I stand by that. I think we need to learn how to deal with our triggers and learn how to live in the world, which can be a scary place.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. The film is described as: Not Okay is a 2022 American satirical black comedy drama film written and directed by Quinn Shephard.
    So, although you (and perhaps many) wouldn’t define it as satire, it is trying to be. I haven’t seen it thus I can’t speak to the success of that. I doubt that I will since I don’t generally like black comedies or flashing lights.
    Trigger warnings don’t trigger me. In fact I rarely pay any attention to them.

    Liked by 1 person

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