2. Sexual assault and domestic violence victims
Although the movie is the true story of Northrup’s 12 year ordeal after he was tricked and abducted into slavery, the most powerful storyline in “12 Years a Slave” is that of the women who are victimized, subjugated and raped. Women have no agency in slavery – no control of their bodies, their daily lives or even their children. The Patsey storyline is central to the film and its most disturbing element. For those who have already been traumatized by abuse or any mother who has lost or been forcibly separated from her children, there are several scenes that will be very, very hard to take.
3. People currently dealing with overt racism
If you are in a job or a situation where you are the overt victim of racism but don’t feel that you are in position to protest or leave “12 Years a Slave” could feel like an exacerbation of the conditions you’re already dealing with. As Paula Deen showed us, racism is still alive and well in the American workplace and for those dealing with it everyday, the emotions this movie will likely evoke may feel like even more punishment.
4. Interracial couples
“12 Years a Slave” may not make for the most comfortable post-film conversation even amongst the most comfortable, enlightened interracial couples where the man is white and the woman is Black. Of course, if you’re in a solid, longstanding interracial relationship or marriage, you may have had some of those discussions already and have comes to terms with the history of white male sexual exploitation of Black female slaves. Or that issue may have never come up. But let’s be clear, this is not a date movie for interracial couples in a new relationship, one that’s already shaky or where no discussion of race has ever been had. See it only if you are solid and comfortable and you have a relationship that can withstand any visceral emotional reactions.
5. Sensitive people
Are you the kind of person who cries at Hallmark commercials, wants to save stray animals and people and is a sucker for every sob story or hard luck tale? Then I would suggest that if you do choose to see the movie, you take some reinforcements in the shape of kind and caring friends with you. The ill treatment Black slaves dealt with for hundreds of years is on full display in “12 Years a Slave” and for some people, watching two hours of it will be an extremely challenging experience. Watch it if you believe you should, but take friends and tissues with you.