OK, I'm just going to say it: previews really piss me off.
I remember the days I used to love to get to the movies early, settle into my seat, and run through the reel of upcoming features. That romantic comedy? Looks lame but I'm totally going to see it. That action movie? Looks great but not really my style. What I never thought was: I have just been completely and totally assaulted in this theater.
I went to see Twilight a few weeks ago with a friend of mine. We were seated behind a row of girls that couldn't be older than twelve or thirteen, all giggling animatedly about Edward and Jake and which book was their favorite, etc.
The lights dimmed and the previews started. The first was for Harry Potter. Everyone squealed, myself included (I ask you: is there anything better than the score of those films?) Then came a preview for The Ward, a horror film about a woman who is trapped in an insane asylum where patients keep disappearing. The preview was, as all horror film trailers generally are, fast-paced, screechy, and chilling. Things jumping out, haunting images, loud noises, you get the picture. But when it was over and I finally let out my breathe what I felt more than fear was anger. I felt like I had just been attacked in my chair. It sounds dramatic but it was a flat-out visual assault.
The truth is there are people who love horror movies. I don't happen to be one of those people. What upsets me is the complete and total disregard for my right to choose what I want to allow into my consciousness, and what I don't. I don't watch horror films because I don't want those images in my psyche and I resent having them forced on me before a movie of my choosing.
Moreover, because we were watching, for all intents and purposes, a children's film, I wondered how this had affected my tween friends a row up. Perhaps they thought nothing of it, it's certainly possible recovery came quickly after the first images of Jake shirtless, but perhaps it stayed with them. It certainly stayed with me.
This isn't about ratings, though. The preview felt particularly inappropriate for a pg-13 audience, but that isn't even my complaint. I'm not even distinguishing between children and adults here because I am an adult and I was the one who felt violated.
The point I want to argue here is choice. There are plenty of horrific things we see without our choosing and plenty more we should chose to view, to witness, and to stand up for or against. What I'm arguing for here is the right to chose where we can. Leave horror previews for horror movies. At least you know the people going have made a choice that they want to see them.