Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Five Lessons To Learn From 13 Reasons Why

Dublin, Ireland

Since it's launch 13 Reasons Why has been talked about across the globe for good and bad reasons but love it or hate it, the show got some things right and what it didn't nail on the head we can learn from.

I read the book 13 Reasons Why back in 2014 when I was in 4th year of secondary school and not exactly having the best look on life. The book didn't change my life or bring me to some great epiphany. Instead it motivated me to cut my hair so I can feel like a new person. Unlike Hannah it wasn't a cry for help, I was preparing for battle BUT if it one noticed.

The main lesson I took from reading the book was to pay attention to my actions because you never know how it may affect another person.  I was so excited when I saw that it was actually going to go from screen to book. It is by far one of the best book-to-screen adaptations I've seen this year. It stays so true to the book and is even more hard hitting than reading it was. I binge watched it in one day.

Despite the headache and eye strain I got from back to back episodes, I am grateful for the things the show got right and have picked up some new lessons in what it didn't and that's what I am going to share with you guys. Let's begin with the good bits.

What It Got Right

1) The Show Added To The World Wide Conversation of Suicide

I'm not going to say 13 Reasons Why has sparked a much needed conversation about suicide because it hasn't. The semicolon tattoo on my right wrist is proof enough. It's added it's own two pence to the conversation and helped keep the topic of suicide in the limelight so people can't escape from it. This is my number one reason for loving the book and show, you really can't escape from the topic of suicide, it is the whole plot!

2) Gave An Unapologetic, Raw Insider View Into Rape & Sexual Assault

Unless you've been raped and had your very being violated against your will, it is hard to imagine what that feels like. Watching the rape scenes in 13 Reasons Why, physically I felt ill, emotionally I felt ill and mentally I felt ill. The irony in the backlash the show received for its graphic scenes was laughable at best. No one wants to see rape happening but guess what, a person of rape didn't want that to happen either. How will we deal with the issue of rape if we as a society don't want to see it? 13 Reasons Why challenges the out of sight, out of mind attitude that undeniably taints the topic of rape and sexual assault.

The show did not shy away from the feelings of shame and fear and sense of loss people of rape can be afflicted with. The fear of telling loved ones. Shame at how peers will judge you and a loss of confidence in one's self. Rape can break your very soul as Hannah Baker herself said and 13 Reasons Why took a fair shot at portraying that. It hard to turn away watch but oh so very necessary.

What It Got Wrong

3) Hannah Baker killed Hannah Baker

To some degree I think 13 Reasons Why glorifies suicide and I am not up for that. By committing suicide and leaving behind the tapes, Hannah is seen to have taken her revenge on the people that hurt her most and in turn had the last laugh. She wants those on the tape to feel as hurt and betrayed as she felt, and most of all she wants them to take responsibility for her death and suffer the guilt that comes with it.

This is a terrible message to send to young people. Reading the book the one thing that never sat right with me was the fact that so many people were blamed for killing Hannah Baker. "We all killed Hannah " is a sentence Tony says quite a lot in the book and show.

As the spiritual guide, yogi, wise old man of the show it made me sad to hear him say that because it just isn't true. No one put a gun to Hannah's head and told her to slit her wrists and bleed to death. Not Clay, not Jessica not even Bryce ( although what he did would be enough to test anyone's resolve) Hannah Baker killed Hannah Baker and that is just the truth of it.

4) Hannah Baker Was Depressed

Oh look, another issue that society find hard to discuss, Depression. D.E.P.R.E.S.S.I.O.N. 10 letters, three vowels, 5 consonants and yet so much to be said about it. Or in the case of 13 Reasons Why, so much not to be said.

In her letter to Zach, Hannah talks about the loneliness and sadness she feels that can only be made better by the "silly" compliments she receives in her brown paper compliments bag. She is so obviously depressed and reaching out for help in many ways, cutting her hair, the poem in the school magazine, the anonymous letter in her class.

All these facts are somewhat left to the reader/viewer to come to realise themselves. I think it would've been so much more striking to bring attention to how her mental health affected her perceptions which in turn affected the way she felt. Something that could mean nothing to someone could be so offensive to another and that is regardless of whether or not you deal with Depression.

We've all had someone be our friend one day and then forget us the next, we get sad, we move on. There were so many people in that school how could she have not made any other friends? I mean I would've been her friend, the girl had a wit to die for! ( no pun intended). When you suffer from depression you could be in a school with billions of students and still feel so alone.

So some rumours went around about her that would hardly have stopped her from finding friends. I'm not sure about you but there have been many times where I've had to defend myself against a guy who gave my backside more attention than I would like. A slap for a slap. Yes Hannah and I are different people but she was a strong confident girl, the way she got Justin's number alone shows this so why is it so hard to believe she couldn't stand up for herself? My only theory is that, she was depressed. The thing with depression is when bad things happen to you, sometimes you feel as though you deserved it because you did something wrong.

But we'll never know what Hannah was thinking or how her mental health truly effected her perceptions because it's never discussed. Tut tut.

5) Forced People To Think About Their Actions

There is both good and bad ends to this point, that's why it's the last one. 

13 Reasons Why sends the valid message that we should think before we act. With the likes of revenge porn and nude pics circulating amongst WhatsApp groups a message like this is so important and necessary to send. But I also worry about the little actions that may be affected negatively.

 I'd hate to think anything I ever say or do would hurt someone but of course I have done just that before, many times. For example, my sense of humor is quite dry to say the least. You either get it or you don't. Its sarcastic, rude and dark. My friends and I would be very much into slagging each other as a form of affection and to new people who don't quite know us, our sense of humour could come across as insulting.

For that reason I like to be really comfortable with someone before I can start slagging them but sometimes you meet people and you just click with them and before you know it you're exchanged every yo mama joke in your arsenal with them!

 I fear for the day where the world is so PC that no one can say or do anything freely. One where posting a funny meme about gingers can be seen as 'cyber bullying and adding to emotional damage'. I asked my ginger friends about this. They did not care. I love people who can take a light-hearted insult and give one back.

But the thing is not everyone is like this but that is my personality and I don't want to change that. There's nothing better than coming up with that perfect burn comeback and knowing you've got your opponent with this one. There are so many other areas in life, not just types of humour, that people just don't see eye to eye on. You could spend you whole life watching what you say around people and still offend someone. 

You should one hundred percent pause and think about what you're doing before you send that nude pic you just received from the girl you've been seeing with to your mates. Don't be a creepy peeping Tom or record the intimate moments of your relationship. These should really be no brainers but don't stop being yourself for fear of hurting someone. If you're showing respect to others, taking accountability for your choices and actions and minding your own business, you'll be grraaand sure.

If you're falling the down the 13 Reasons Why blackhole and are up for a light-hearted fun read about, check out this post by The Tab which will definitely make you smile, maybe even chuckle.

What did you learn from 13 Reasons Why?

Till next time my pretties xxx

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4 comments so far

  1. I read the book when I was in high school but I've still got the last two episodes to watch. I'm quite torn- as you say, it is making people think about their actions and about suicide. I just don't like that angle of 'we all killed Hannah Baker' and I think it's quite an irresponsible theme to perpetuate, especially in a show aimed at teenagers. I'll defo watch the last two episodes anyway!
    Lisa x |

    1. Some of the messages they send definitely need to be taken with a grain of salt because not everything is black and white and given their young audience. You should definitely watch the last two episodes, they're hard to watch bit worth it.

  2. A friend of mine told me about the book only a few weeks before the show came up on Netflix, and I still haven't read or watched. But, it seems like it's got some really important things going on in the plot. I know in my school bullying was just kind of part of life. If a teacher ever found out you were doing something mean you were a deadman, but not many people went to teachers. It is so important to see the repercussions of your actions, even if it is "just a story". It's definitely still on my to-read list.

    Erin | Explore, Refresh

    1. Oh Erin, read it and watch it, they're great and the show definitely emulates the book well.

      I'm glad to hear your teachers actually did something and students feared that, young people need to be thought more that they can turn to their teachers and leaders and the leaders in turn need to do something about whatever issue comes to them, big or small. It's the only way to build the kind of trust needed to prevent tragedies.


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