During a graduate-school lecture on “Lolita,” my professor stood up in front of a crowded classroom and said something I have never been able to shake: “When you read ‘Lolita,’ keep in mind that what you’re reading about is the systematic rape of a young girl.”
I had read “Lolita” in high school and then again in college, when it became my personal literary liquor store—whenever I got stuck in a scene, or whenever my prose felt flat or typical, I’d open “Lolita” to a random page and steal something. My professor’s pronouncement felt too didactic, too political, and, although I tried to put it out of my mind and enjoy “Lolita” ’s cunning, surprising games with language, I could no longer pick up the book without feeling the weight of his judgment. The professor wasn’t wrong to point out the obvious about Humbert and Dolores Haze, and I don’t believe—at least not completely—that literature should only be examined as an object unto itself, detached from time and history, but I haven’t read “Lolita” since.
A lot of defenders have compared trigger warnings to the justifications the MPAA uses to relegate certain movies to the less financially rewarding marketing segments, a part of of the culture of media consumption, but I have always regarded them as reductionist, and perhaps an opportunity for a reviewer’s wit to shine.
“I Still Know What You Did Last Summer” assembles the building blocks of idiot-proof slasher movies: Stings, Snicker-Snacks, false alarms and point-of-view baits-and-switches. We’ll get back to those. The movie’s R rating mentions “intense terror violence and gore,” but only its publicity team could consider it intense or terrifying. Gore it has. (ebert, 1998)
(edited to blockquote the second paragraph of quoted material)