Goodfellas the latest movie to be slapped with a (ridiculous) trigger warning

In an era of trigger warnings being seen as intrusive and overly sensitive, the one attached to Scorsese’s Goodfellas is a new low.

Last Updated on May 22, 2024

Martin Scorsese, Ray Liotta, Goodfellas

I don’t think it’s an unpopular opinion anymore to say trigger warnings have gone too far. When you have people like Dame Judi Dench complaining about them, maybe the plot has gotten lost somewhat, so to speak. While many have taken issue with the wrong-headed warnings before movies like Blazing Saddles (a famously anti-racist movie) and the pretty tame early James Bond movies, perhaps the moment trigger warnings truly overstepped happened last week, when AMC aired Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas and attached the following disclaimer:

“This film includes language and/or cultural stereotypes that are inconsistent with today’s standards of inclusion and tolerance and may offend some viewers.”

Here’s the tweet that started it all:

So, let’s take a minute to take all that in. Firstly, Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas is a movie for grown-ups and is about sociopathic gangsters. Is anyone watching this actually expecting an inclusive depiction of the Italian Mafia, which, of course, is famously known for their tolerance and kindness (note sarcasm)? The movie’s whole point is to depict the most unseemly aspects of that life. And cultural stereotypes? I suppose that has to do with the fact that members of the Mafia are shown to be Italian, which they were, so I’m not sure what the issue here is. Truth be told, I don’t get what purpose attaching a trigger warning to Goodfellas, perhaps one of the most universally loved movies ever, serves. What’s next? A warning attached to Casablanca because the Nazis are all really mean? 

The bright spot about all of this is that trigger warnings have gotten so ridiculous that the backlash against them is steadily growing. Heck, Netflix is even releasing an ultra-violent Jessica Alba flick with the term Trigger Warning as its tongue-in-cheek title. If you look at the tweet embedded above, it went crazy viral, and no one is defending the use of a warning in this film, which really doesn’t need one. AMC also edits their movies for television, so the version of Goodfellas being aired was probably cut to ribbons anyway. I doubt anything was left over to truly upset people.

It’s funny; I first noticed trigger warnings becoming a thing when I attended TIFF in 2022, and they screened the Hugh Jackman drama The Son. Despite being an adults-only festival, where you actually can’t even get into to see most movies if you’re under 18, the film had a trigger warning in its program that spoiled it’s ending. I don’t know why movies nowadays are seen as something that should never challenge viewers. Many of the best movies ever made specifically try to “trigger” audiences because that’s the point. Think of something like Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List. Do you think he wanted audiences to leave the theater whistling a happy tune? No, he wanted to shock and upset people to give an accurate depiction of the barbarity of the Holocaust. The fact is, movies are (sometimes) supposed to be provocative. Goodfellas is such a movie. Not everything can fit, as they say in the trigger warning, “today’s standards of inclusion and tolerance.” While that may offend “some” viewers (although I think they overestimate the number of people that really would be offended), that’s too bad. Goodfellas is a movie for grown-ups, and if AMC chooses to air it, they should treat the movie and the people watching it with the respect they deserve. 

Let us know in the comments if you were as triggered as we were by this trigger warning.

About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.