COLUMN: YouTube should let users skip certain ads

I’m a college senior, and I’ve never seen a horror movie. This is largely due to the fact that I am scared of most things — spiders, snakes, clowns, people brushing their teeth too loudly. You name it, I’ve probably had a nightmare about it.

But it seems that I may soon be forced to confront a few of my fears.

During winter break, several new horror movie trailers surfaced as advertisements on YouTube. The trailers play as mandatory ads on all types of videos — from stand up comedy to Moana sing-alongs — and often cannot be skipped, even though they feature sensitive content.

The phenomenon of must-watch horror movie trailers is nothing new to YouTube. Past pre-video horror advertisements include ”Insidious,” “Poltergeist,” “Unfriended,” and most recently ”Rings” and “Split.”

The latter film stalked my YouTube activities over winter break, with the trailer updating itself and intensifying each time I clicked on a new video.

From what I gathered from the ads, ”Split” is going to be terrifying — and not just because James McAvoy is bald, although that’s scary enough in its own right.

What was truly disturbing about the whole experience was the notion that this scary content was being forced upon me.

While it was scary enough for me as an adult, I can’t imagine what surprise horror movie trailers would be like for unsuspecting children just trying to watch kitten videos, not to mention the possibility of victims of violence or post-traumatic stress disorder being triggered by frightening images without any warning.

Think about it. Most theaters display trigger warnings before playing an R-rated trailer — that neon green screen telling you “the following trailer is rated R for violence and some disturbing images.”

The green warning screen is largely there to give viewers an idea of what they’re about to see, and to warn them if, like me, they need to plug their ears and look away.

With mandatory horror trailers, YouTube is showing their users even less respect than a courtesy theater warning. Forced viewing of fear-inducing content is not only potentially harmful, but it feels like a deliberate disregard of customer care on the part of YouTube.

Of course I understand that horror movies, like any other type of film, rely heavily on advertising to sell their product. Although I’d like to, I can’t keep all whispers of the horror genre out of my life forever.

There are even some people in the world that genuinely love a scary movie.

Honestly, good for them.

When the zombie apocalypse finally arrives, they will be the ones thriving in our new world. I, on the other hand, will be cowering in fear and eating all the perishables in the frozen food section of Target and just trying my best to survive alongside all the other card-carrying scaredy cats.

Until that zombie apocalypse arrives, horror shouldn’t be forced upon anyone, and terrifying trailers certainly shouldn’t be mandatory YouTube advertisements exempt from user opt-outs.


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