If you haven’t heard about the newest Netflix hit, 13 Reason’s Why I’m not sure where you’ve been (or why you’re reading this blog post). The series is produced by Selena Gomez and is based off the young adult book by the same name, written by Jay Asher. In the novel, high school student Hannah Baker takes her own life but not before leaving a series of old-school cassette tapes with instructions. On the tapes, Hannah gives her reasons as to why she ended her life. Each reason is directly correlated with a specific student. The series and book highlight student Clay Jensen as he works his way through the tapes.
There has been a lot of backlash about this series and how it could possibly be sensationalizing suicide and possibly promoting teenagers to find the option of suicide more attractive. Here are my thoughts on that and the entire series:
The book was written by Jay Asher and marketed as a young adult novel. I’ll be honest, I read the book probably 3-4 years ago and enjoyed the book… as I usually do enjoy young adult books (I know, I know…I still feel like I’m 16). When I heard about the Netflix series coming out, I was really excited to have a teen-focused guilty pleasure to watch (I also like Riverdale… roll your eyes. It’s cool, I’m cool with it.). What I actually got was a series that was as addictive as it was disturbing. Remember when all those parents felt like idiots for letting their young kids watch the superhero movie Deadpool? Yeah… same type of concept with a little different material.
I certainly urge parents of teens to watch the series before allowing their teen to watch it. There are a lot of graphic, horrific and disturbing scenes. Some of which, you may not be comfortable with your child watching. And I know some parents may think that the series should be safe since their teen read the book. Just… no. Perhaps, the level of disturbing-ness is intensified when seeing certain scenes acted out but I definitely don’t remember feeling that disturbed after finishing the book and I’m a 29-year-old woman.
I’ve probably been living under a celebrity rock so maybe I’m just clueless but I had no idea who most of these actors and actresses were. That being said, damn! These kids are very very talented. I use the word ‘kids’ loosely as I’m sure some of these ‘high school’ kids are actually in their mid-twenties.
As mentioned before, there are some very disturbing scenes in this series. I’m talking rape, abuse and some gore. I had a particularly tough time stomaching the rape scenes (yes, multiple) and the scene where Hannah takes her own life.
Seeing these scenes acted out in front of me (as opposed to being read and pictured in my head) has me feeling that I have lived a very sheltered and fortunate life. These scenes are heartbreaking, graphic and shocking.
A lot of critics are stating that 13 Reasons Why is glamorizing suicide and possibly giving troubled teens one more reason to consider suicide. I don’t know that I completely agree with that statement, but I do believe it warrants a discussion.
In the series, Hannah uses her 13 tapes to explain exactly why she takes her own life. Sometimes, it seems as if the main objective of this young girl is to make those other students sorry for how they treated her. Maybe I’m wrong, but making someone feel sorry can sometimes provide a sense of satisfaction. I completely understand that those students who ’caused’ her to take her life should be sorry for how they treated her but giving the sense of satisfaction for doing so seems… wrong.
When any suicide happens, nobody wins. Let me say that again… when someone commits suicide, NOBODY WINS. It affects everyone is a NEGATIVE way. The victim has given up their battle and has chosen to hurt themselves and others. Parents are left without a child and left with grief, sorrow and questions. Friends feel guilty, grief-stricken and confused. And the list goes on. Everyone is affected negatively. Satisfaction is considered something positive. I can see where it’s slightly questionable to highlight any satisfaction someone may receive by making others feel sorry.
Unfortunately, the scary reality is there are teens out there with the mindset of wanting to make people feel sorry for how they’ve treated them and weigh the option of suicide as a means to do so. One could argue that this series realistically displays that motive. One could also argue that if someone was already in a dark place and having urges to ‘make everyone sorry’ this series could be an example of how that was successfully done.
Man, times have changed or I was living in a fantasy world when I was in high school. Actually, I think I lived in a fantasy world and technology has allowed for series like this to showcase certain aspects of high school.
There are a few things that I would love to see happen because of 13 Reasons Why… First, it would be awesome if 13 Reasons Why motivated teens (troubled or not) to talk to their parents and guardians about what is going on in their lives. Be an open book and share your feelings frequently and unwarranted. Secondly, I hope 13 Reasons Why will motivate teens and adults to BE KIND to EVERYONE. You never know the battle that someone is fighting. Your simple act of kindness could save someone from doing something they can’t undo.