Hey Netflix, Maybe Don’t Tweet Videos of Girls Jumping Off Bridges, Dramatized or Not

Suicide shouldn't be played for shock value. (And keep your tired "triggered" jokes to yourselves.)

(CW: suicide)

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Since I apparently need to write more than what’s in the title, here goes.

To promote their new series The OA, Netflix published a series of cryptic tweets earlier today. The small tweet chain ended in a pair of videos, meant to look like cell phone footage of a girl (ostensibly the main character of The OA) running out into traffic on a bridge highway. In the first video, she runs to the edge of the bridge, then sits on the barrier. In the second video, .

Centering the hype or buildup to your trailer reveal on a fake mobile video of a girl killing herself is, frankly, wrong. It’s very not okay.

For starters: yes, such a video can be triggering. Speaking personally, it certainly set me off and stirred up some particularly strong anxieties. Whatever value or interest that can be gained from the shock of sharing such a video, fake or not, is immediately discounted by the very real anxieties and memories that can and will be kicked up by blindsiding viewers with such heavy subject matter. And make no mistake: suicide is heavy subject matter. It absolutely shouldn’t be something played for shock value or for straight-up views.

As shown in the full trailer that followed (clocking in at one minute and 38 seconds), there are so many different aspects to this new show that are more than worthy of such focused screen time and would surely stir up similar interest, without the triggering. Why not use literally any one of those moments? Even if the show’s plot centers around this incident, isolating it and playing it out with little to no warning to 2.46 million followers feels more than a little bit irresponsible.

What you’ll also notice in the full length trailer is that the briefest glimpse of the girl jumping from the bridge is also featured. Presented there, nestled amongst a series of smash cuts and to other parts of the show, it’s (arguably) somewhat more acceptable. It’s quick, it passes fast, there’s context provided before and after, and it’s surrounded by plenty of opportunities to click out or click off of the video. As well, the incredibly dramatic build up of her running through traffic isn’t present; it’s just her slipping off the barricade.

But again, isolating this moment, stretching it out, really hammering home the shot of her jumping, sound and all, feels egregious. It’s unneeded. It’s unwanted. Videos of suicide—dramatized or not—should not be played for shock value or for hype.

Let me say that again: suicide should not be played for shock value or for hype.

This isn’t to say that showing such things isn’t acceptable, no; the issue lies in how it was handled. It was a centerpiece, meant to shock—or perhaps even excite—the viewer, nothing more. It reduces this very real struggle into something played for clicks. In the greater context of the show, I’m sure it makes sense, and I’m sure it’s fine, but again: isolated, alone, presented for nothing more than shock… that is where the ads go wrong.

That is where these videos go from intriguing to just downright disrespectful.

In the absence of the context that is the plot, these videos are nothing more than exploitative, reductive shock that feel edgy for the sake of edginess, nothing more. Netflix can do so much better.

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Jessica Lachenal
Jessica Lachenal is a writer who doesn’t talk about herself a lot, so she isn’t quite sure how biographical info panels should work. But here we go anyway. She's the Weekend Editor for The Mary Sue, a Contributing Writer for The Bold Italic (thebolditalic.com), and a Staff Writer for Spinning Platters (spinningplatters.com). She's also been featured in Model View Culture and Frontiers LA magazine, and on Autostraddle. She hopes this has been as awkward for you as it has been for her.