warning: i talk about rape, suicide, and swear a bit.
so. 13 reasons why.
i’m just going to lay it all out there. i’m so sick of reading people’s pissed off diatribes about the netflix original series and jay asher’s book.
i was admittedly pretty excited when i learned that netflix was turning this book into a series. i read the book a few years ago while working at the local middle school and i know i couldn’t put it down and that i absolutely loved it.
to be clear, never ever is this book described or presented as a 100% accurate representation of suicide, high-school life, or how to navigate being a teenager. this book is FICTION. say it with me – FIIIIIIICTION. now, i’m assuming if you’re reading this you know what fiction means. because if you don’t, then i don’t really want you reading my blog anyway because i literally review FICTION like 99% of the time.
and to be clear, the above sentiment stands absolutely true for the netflix series as well.
so, get over it. this show wasn’t a manual for how to appropriately handle teen suicide. nor was it meant to be some medically accurate portrayal of depression.
were there things that bothered me about the book/show? you bet. i wasn’t a huge hannah fan in general. i gave her mad props for utilizing cassette tapes to show the people who had failed her exactly how they’d failed her. i thought she was petulant and childish and honestly GET OVER IT HANNAH. yes these people all failed her in some way. but we all have friendships that change, most of us have a friend that ended up dating/hanging out with/going out with one of our exes, in all reality – even the rapes in the book are not as uncommon as people would like to think. i know people who have fought through some real heavy shit. i’ve been though some real heavy shit. and i wake up every morning and get my ass out of bed and handle the shit that needs to be handled. i could go on and on about mental health and therapy and the power of the mind, but that isn’t for this post. so yeah, as someone who made the choice 20 years ago to handle my shit EVERY SINGLE DAY, i didn’t buy into all of hannah’s woe is me crap.
a majority of what hannah talks about on the tapes is stuff we’ve all probably dealt with but the rapes are no joke. i’m in no way trying to downplay the severity and traumatic repercussions of rape. on that note though, i have seen a lot of complaints about the rape scenes and how they are triggering (um, hello, they’re rape scenes) and unnecessary to the show. first of all, they’re part of everything that leads up to hannah’s suicide, so i’d say they’re pretty relevant and necessary. secondly, it literally warns you before the episode that there will be graphic depictions of sexual assault. so you actually get a warning. you know it is coming at some point in that episode. it isn’t some crazy, out of left field, sneak attack rape scene. and it is literally pretty real as fuck. i mean, i guess i don’t know what an accurate rape should look like, or if the actual problem people are having with the rape scenes is that they decided to show jessica and hannah being raped and we don’t like to see rape because then we have to acknowledge it is a real thing.
i’ve also seen a lot of complaints about how the show doesn’t address the actual issue of depression and hannah’s mental health. well guess what? it doesn’t have to because that isn’t what the book and subsequent show were about. the book isn’t meant to be a guide for how to help your friend who is depressed. it isn’t a blueprint for how to appropriately deal with teenage angst and depression and it sure as shit isn’t meant to be some suicide hotline PSA. so chill out people. seriously.
i loved this book and this series for exactly what it was. people are shitty. teenagers are some of the most awful people out there. i was a teenager. i was pretty awful on more than one occasion. i stole a boy out from under a friend’s nose, i used people and took people for granted and walked away from situations when i should have stayed. i kept my mouth shut when i should have been the one to speak up.
i will say though, 13 reasons why has been added to my list of books/movies/shows 14 year old kids should have to watch/read before starting high school. audrie & daisy, a girl like her, the hunting ground, bully, cyberbully, and hate list are all on this list as well. i think kids need to fucking see how serious their words and actions can be taken. slut shaming, cyberbullying, rape – they aren’t just problems that happen somewhere else to someone else’s kids. they literally happen right here. right in your backyard. social media has made it incredibly easy to destroy another person without ever having to look them in the eye. that was what this story was about for me. did i think hannah was a brat? yes. would i have killed myself over anything on those tapes? no. but i was fortunate enough to be a teenager sans social media. i would not have wanted to navigate the toughest years of my life with a facebook account. that is for goddamn sure.
so. there’s a really all over the place rant about people ranting about 13 reasons. chill out. i loved both the book and the series and have continued to love them because i’m not trying to turn them into anything more than what they are.
if you haven’t read/watched 13 reasons yet, i recommend doing both. if you have a teenager i recommend letting them read/watch and having an open dialogue about depression, suicide, and bullying.
and if you read/watch it and hate it, that’s cool too. but really, i loved it.