I just finished watching 13 Reasons Why (which I will refer to as 13RW so I don’t have to type it out a thousand times). Please note, I haven’t read the book version written by Jay Asher, and probably won’t as I like to keep my reading to fantasy.
**TRIGGER WARNING: Discussion of suicide, rape and bullying
This show has left me with a lot of a feelings, and re-surfaced alot of feelings. Trigger warnings don’t always prepare you for how you are going to feel, regardless of the warning. Needless to say, there are things I feel really sad about which I felt I have to get off my chest.
16 year old Steff didn’t need a book or show like this. Yes, people watching the show are now thinking that they need to be nicer to people, to be more aware of other people and how they are feeling. However I feel like if I had watched this show or read the book, it may have pushed me in the wrong direction. Throughout the show, we watch how so many little things (and a few really big things) pushed a girl towards suicide because she felt that there was absolutely no way out. She felt that she was unwanted, unloved and thought the world would be better off without her.
How many teenagers feel like this at some point throughout highschool? I can tell you, I was one of these people. There were many times when I felt like the world would be better off without me. Friends would hang out without me on the weekends, go to parties without me. I thought my dad didn’t love me. My step-dad had a super sleazy friend. All of these small things happened, and towards the edge of 17 I sort of started to spiral. I drank alot. I pressed a razor to my skin a few times and couldn’t go ahead with it, which I am grateful for. However maybe if I watched something like this, despite the trigger warnings, I may have gone through with it.
And you know why? Because then my friends and parents would have realised they should have paid more attention to me. To show all the horrible people who bullied me that they should feel horrible for what they did. So that everyone could come together and cry and be sad, and realise that they should have treated me better.
I therefore have fears that other people who watch 13RW, who are going through the same thing, will look at what Hannah Baker did and decide that that is the best course of action for them to take.
I have really, really mixed feelings about this show. I didn’t love it, and I suppose that is a good thing. I feel sad that people watch it now and think “I really should be nicer to people”. Like…really? And the even sadder thing is, some of the people who think this, will then continue their bullying – because they don’t think that what they are doing is “bullying”.
When I was in primary school, I wasn’t rich. I was a poor kid at a wealthy private school. I didn’t fit in, and boy did the girls and boys love to remind me of it. I can’t tell you how many times I went home crying because they were mean to me or did things that were just outright cruel and nasty. I was lucky enough to get away from them when I got to highschool, but highschool comes along with its own set of problems. Highschool is about being cool. It’s about being different and unique, but not too much because you still want people to think you are cool. Whilst my grade in highschool wasn’t terrible, it also wasn’t free from bullying. Things could make or break your reputation, and you had to tread a very thin line to try and keep your reputation in tack. That meant, go to parties and have parents that let you go to them. Don’t be a virgin but don’t be a slut. Do well with your grades, but don’t focus on them too hard because otherwise you were a nerd. If you fell outside of what was cool or acceptable, you were on your own. So even the nice people, could be bullies.
But if I had say, done the same as Hannah Baker and left a note telling people who crappy they were to me…what would it have achieved? In a way, I feel that what Hannah Baker did was a rather vengeful act – and that is where I feel it is dangerous for people who are being bullied or have other shitty things going on in their lives.
However, this show does pinpoint some really important things as well which should be noted. One massive thing that stood out to me, is how out of touch adults can be in relation to kids and how they feel. “Get over it”, “move on” or “it’s not that big of a deal”. The Guidance Officer at my school was useless, I am pretty sure I went once and that was it. I also heard teachers victim shaming, or even just supporting the bullies. At my primary school, the kids with all the money never got in trouble for anything and therefore got away with everything – including bullying.
It also shows the impact of social media and the usage of mobile phones at school, and the problems that come along with it. How these tools can be used to aid bullying and how the kids using them don’t understand the serious impact these things can make on other peoples lives.
The other thing that really stood out for me, was how outwardly happy Hannah came across and therefore no-one knew that she even had suicide on her mind. This is such an important thing to note, because how many times do people with a mental illness hear “Oh but you seem like such a happy person”. Because people who are in the most pain, are the best at hiding it from the world until finally the wall that they have built crumbles and everything comes crashing down around them.
I feel that the bullying was incredibly important, and what constitutes bullying. If anything, I hope people take that from the show and realise that what they say and do can impact someone’s life – even though this is something most people should have been taught from a young age.
I really don’t like how Clay had to take some of the blame for being awkward and not showing he loved Hannah. Can “loving someone back to life” really be a thing? To be honest, I really don’t know. However I understand feeling lonely enough that it could be a factor. I kind of feel like Clay wasn’t really given much of a chance to show it to Hannah, because she pushed him away alot and he didn’t know anything that was going on. Which in the end, maybe if Clay had just asked if she was alright and if she needed to talk she may have felt less alone.
Does 13RW glamourise suicide? I don’t think so. There was nothing pretty about it. I think it has started an extremely important conversation about suicide and hopefully has highlighted to people possibly some of the warning signs (although I don’t know if Hannah’s parents ever noted any, because we never saw that side of the story). Like I mentioned before, I don’t like the whole vengeful suicide thing…but that is just my opinion.
If you haven’t watched this show yet and find suicide, bullying and/or rape triggering, I advise you to think about whether you need to watch it. If you want to watch it but feel it may affect you, watch it with someone else so you can discuss it with them. 13RW shows everything…and I mean everything.
And lastly, I want each and every one of you to realise that you are loved, you are wanted and you are important. You are a shining star for someone and you are needed, please don’t ever forget that. If anyone ever needs to talk, you are always free to contact me on facebook or twitter .
Thanks for reading, and sorry for the long rant.