Saturday, 15 April 2017

Thirteen Reasons Why review (...part two)

So last night I finished Thirteen Reasons Why. It has taken me about a week. You can find the first here. I was incredibly grateful for Chelsey being here whilst I watched it.
part of my review  At this point I'll post a spoiler alert. Like if you haven't got beyond episode six of this series, do not carry on reading. I will ruin it for you and you will hate me.

The tone became so much more sinister as I continued to watch from episode six. We went from sexism to sexual assault. To brutal, horrifying scenes of rape that made me cringe. To violence, and we watch as Bryce beats Clay to a pulp for asking the right questions. The second half of this series was even more painful to watch than the first.

There were so so many controversial scenes in these last seven episodes. Like why does Justin practically let Bryce rape his girlfriend? Justin lets that b****rd into the room, knowing that Jessica is drunk and vulnerable. Okay, so bro-culture?! Justin made it sound as though he had given Jessica to him, briefly, as a thank you for all that Bryce had done for him. For all the shoes he had bought him to play basketball in. No amount of shoes, or free lodgings, in the world could make me sell a loved one out in such a way. Then to deny it to Jessica? The transition in Jessica's character was astounding and she was played amazingly well. From the minute she is told that she has been raped, she starts to wear baggier clothing. to wear short skirts less and less. And she pushes Justin as far away from her as he can get. I would have liked to know what happened to Jessica.

I began to like, and have so much sympathy for Hannah Baker. I cried for her. I wanted the end to be different. I wanted her to not die. I also found that I had a favourite character; Tony. Tony was intent on carrying out this final act of distributing the tapes, for Hannah. It is Tony that aids Clay through processing his own tape. Tony is probably the only good person left alive in this series.

Did I hate anybody? Bryce. Who thinks that every girl in school is asking to be raped. Courtney. Ashamed to be gay. It was so easy to hate Courtney when female characters such as Sherri were facing up to their crimes. Sherri reports herself to the police, and faces a sentence! While Courtney conspires against a dead Hannah Baker in order to prevent her two homosexual parents from finding out that she might be, wait for it... gay! Good god. Courtney Crimson is one of most ridiculously disgusting characters I have ever come across. I also reserved a special spot for Mr Porter, the school counsellor who ignored the signs.

Mr Porter is the last person that Hannah Baker confides in and attempts to ask for help. Hannah opens the last episode, and her final tape with the statement that she has decided 'to give life one last try'. And even though I knew she had 'failed', as she put it, because we are listening to these tapes, I began to hope.

Instead, Mr Porter questions her about whether or not she asked her rapist to stop, or told him no. Then he states: 'maybe you consented and then changed your mind'. A young girl is sat at his desk, after being raped. And this is where I began to understand why these teens are so close knit. Why they insist on dealing with things on their own. Because either the adults don't understand, or don't want to understand. Before asking for the name of her attacker, Mr Porter questions whether or not Hannah has been around alcohol or drugs at the party. Okay, why is this relevant?! If a young woman is telling you that she has been raped, then you should be doing your best to help her. Not questioning the credibility of her statement. The victims are never 'asking for it' and to imply otherwise is damaging and a disgusting attitude to have. The victims are never to blame.

Both rapes that occur, those of Hannah and Jessica, are significant with regard to their cinematography in that they both prevent the male gaze. We see the true effects of Hannah's rape in extreme close ups of her clenched fist, that slowly releases itself as something dies inside her eyes. We see her face in a close up, with her eyes wide open as if they are taped that way. She is stuck, and does not move an inch. I am disgusted to think that the words 'no' or 'stop' are the only way a woman can express a refusal to have sex. She must verbalise these thoughts otherwise she has given consent. I'd say the fact that she tried to run away, and literally lay there motionless pretty strongly implies a lack of consent. Wouldn't you?!

Jessica's rape is shown from Hannah's point of view, and then from Jessica's point of view. The opportunity to see this as sexy has been removed and the brutality of rape shines through. I guess a lot of people are questioning whether the graphic nature of these scenes is really necessary. Jay Asher has admitted that they are quite graphic, and a little severe. But he does believe that this is necessary, because the very discussion of rape makes us uncomfortable. This, among many other reasons, is why victims are hesitant to come forward following an attack. I couldn't agree more. Maybe it is about time society stopped being so squeamish.

Thirteen Reasons why also handles the subject of self harm, very well I think. Skye, when talking to Clay, states that the rest of the teenagers handle their lives and get on with it, instead of killing themselves. Clay grabs her hand, and reveals her bloodied and scarred wrist. He declares that self harm is not coping. This made me smile a little bit. Thank god, finally somebody said it! Like rape, we are funny about issues of mental health. There is a hell of a lot of stigma still floating around, so to have this very clearly on camera was refreshing.

Episode Thirteen was an interesting one, for want of a better word. Ill warn you that it is graphic. Really graphic, and comes with a warning before the episode. I thought I'd cry. At first I covered my face with my hands, only to peak through my fingers. Not because I wanted to see Hannah's demise. But because I felt like I owed it to her, after all that I had seen. I felt as though, in a weird way, I needed to see it. As soon as she made that first cut, my body seized up. I drew my legs a little bit closer to my chest and everything locked. It was a pretty strange feeling at the time. I didn't know whether I wanted to cry, throw up or laugh awkwardly. Why would I want to laugh? Because I felt so uncomfortable, as if I was entreating on a private moment. I don't know what it was. But I know my entire body went through an experience whilst seeing Hannah Baker commit suicide. And I know that I never want to relive it. I will never rewatch this series, though I will reread the book after this.

My eyes only started to fill up when Mrs Baker finds her. She kids herself that her baby girl is still alive and it broke me. A literal blood bath.

I questioned in my first review, whether or not these kids were to blame. I think some of them are, yes. But not all. People like Sherri, who were just worried about saving their own skin. She did not mean to hurt Hannah. But Courtney Crimson, who even after Hannah's death is still willing to sell the girl out and blame her for her own suicide? She isn't even mature enough to accept that she might have been in the wrong somewhere along the line. Of course I blame characters like Bryce. I felt sympathy for characters like Clay.

But you have to question where they're skewered ideas come from. They are growing up in a world where women are 'asking for it' and slut shaming is very very difficult to avoid. I read this article from The Huffington Post today, and it discusses the effects of slut shaming. To call a woman a 'slut', a 'whore', or whatever, is to make her a target for sexual assault. Tanenbaum states that 'slut shaming is really just a catchy way to signify old-fashioned sexism'. It's wrong and one list declaring that Hannah Baker has the 'best ass' in her class ends up making several male characters thinking she is fair game. It ruins her high school experience and results in something very severe. I'm not suggesting that slut shaming drives people to suicide every day. But I am stating that it is a very dangerous concept. It just warrants some thought, I think.

There were so many unanswered questions at the end of the episode. But I find myself comfortable with these questions. I do not want them answering, and I feel I have seen enough. Though I can't help but wonder about the people that are stating, on social media, how much the show has touched them and had an impact on their opinions. I wonder how many of these people have said self harm is attention seeking. I wonder how many of them are the people I shared my break with a couple of weeks ago.

Thirteen Reasons Why is brutally honest and captures our wilful ignorance on camera, for once.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Thirteen Reasons Why... (I'm only on episode six but I'm going to review anyway)

'You can't stop the future.
You can't rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.


Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker--his classmate and crush--who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah's voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out why.

Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah's pain, and as he follows Hannah's recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever'. (Taken from
Goodreads)



So I read Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher many many years ago. One of my oldest friends lent it to me when I was about thirteen or fourteen, and it was quite possibly the first YA books I ever read. At the time, I would have been self harming (okay, I said it. Bye bye readers! Oh, and hello to the people I had to sit with the other day at work whilst they deemed self harm attention seeking. This is for you guys). So this would have been of a comfort to me, and something I would have liked to think that I understood properly. Boy, was I wrong! Watching this again, six or seven years later is simultaneously the best and worst decision I could have made with regard to my viewing habits. I know so much more about the world now, and this has really affected by viewing experience of the series.

Thirteen Reasons Why is packed full of so many controversial topics. Sexism, the perils of social media, suicide, self harm, homosexuality, and teenagers in general. I think they get a bad rep in this novel/series. But on the other hand it is about time we got to see something hard hitting. We can't keep sticking with the idea that they're not all bad. Technically, I am still a teenager. But the teens presented by Jay Asher resemble more of a high school cult. All of the adults are presented as over emotional, protective and yet half assed outsiders. It is quite terrifying and made me a little uncomfortable. These teenagers are of the opinion that they can handle things alone, and refuse to consult an adult on issues of rape, sexual assault, and bullying.

I find Hannah Baker quite terrifying and always have done. I fear her and I am not entirely sure why, because I feel an immense about of sympathy, for her, simultaneously. She is subjected to a whole variety of rumours and labels including 'slut', 'whore', 'lesbian', 'crazy' and 'best ass' in the sophomore class. When Hannah Baker explains to Clay why she is upset about being put up against her best friend on the list for best ass, he presumes she is ungrateful. That she doesn't understand how much of an honour it is when there is some pretty stiff competition. I was outraged by this, as you can expect. Hannah Baker points out that teenage girls are much less likely to make a list like this about teenage boys., But what she neglects to point out is that the reason for this, is because the same teenage girls are too busy objectifying other teenage girls along with the teenage boys. Nobody gives a shit which teenage boy has the best ass. These labels are only applicable to young girls,apparently. This is so disgusting. Even Hannah's friends are of the opinion it is okay to fuel these labels, because she already has them. She is consistently betrayed in the worst ways. Slut shaming is not okay, ever and neither is subjecting anybody to this kind of objectification.

I wonder what other viewers think about the questions I have. Are these kids really to blame for Hannah Baker's suicide? Or are they simply just acting in the way that has been demonstrated to them. These teenagers can only at in the way that has been prescribed to them. They conform to expectations. God only knows what their role models were like. And is Hannah Baker really a reliable source, is she a liar? Nobody really knows but I do consider her to have some credibility. Perhaps that's because of her circumstances, because she killed herself. Maybe I believe she is more genuine because of this. Because I don't believe that people kill themselves over lies.

I think my problem with this novel/series is that I feel a great distance with regard to the characters. It's a distance, though, that I think I have put there myself rather than Jay Asher deciding I needed to remain at a distance from these characters. I don't find any of them endearing. I feel sympathy for each and everyone one of them. Especially Hannah and her parents, and clay. I wondered if their flawed nature is what makes them so appealing. What I mean to say is that I don't root for any of these characters. Not even Clay. Maybe this will change as I reach the end of the series.

The events of Thirteen Reasons Why originally took place in one night. However, I enjoy that it takes place over a time period. It is impossibly unreasonable to expect somebody to play tapes that are as traumatic as these in one night.

There are quite a few trigger warnings online for this series, and apparently it's not difficult to see why. Chelsey has been sending me updates, as she's much further ahead than me, identifying where the triggering bits may be. (Thank you so much Chels!) I had to sit back and really consider if I find this show triggering. Erm I think there might be a difference between finding something uncomfortable and finding it triggering. I think it makes me feel uncomfortable and very sad, but not to such a severe degree. Though I can see why other people would consider it triggering. I am somehow dreading her suicide scene.

So I found this little message on facebook. I really appreciated that such an important thing was being shared online. But it broke my heart a little bit, all the same. How many people have to die before we understand this, truly? Before we comprehend how serious words are, and how much power is behind them. It should not need spelling out that you could seriously hurt somebody. How many more people (including fictional characters) have to die, and be subjected to such carelessness.

I still hate the label 'crazy'. And slag and slut.

I'm trying not to preach. I'm just asking for you to remember to be kind, always. Words have a bigger impact than you think.

Night night guys.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Paradise Lost...

Okay, first of all I wanted to start with an acknowledgement. A friend asked me to put this here, last week and as I haven't been blogging much this week, I thought I'd post it now.  I laughed so much at her inventive cover of Paradise Lost. Eve has never looked better, and she even has underwear on when you lift up her dress. Eve is one interesting character, and I am reading a whole book about her representations at the moment. The artist that reinvented this cover is completely crazy and drives me nuts during lectures most weeks. But I did appreciate this, a lot.

Anyway, this week has been a good week, guys. I finished my forum post on Paradise Lost in time. But it was excessively over the top with regard to my word count. If my lecturers read this, I am sorry I wrote so much! I have two more to do by tomorrow. This is exciting.

I have more good news! I had my interview at work yesterday, for a managers position. It went very well and I am now a trainee manager. I am very excited.

Okay, so this is only going to be a short one due to the fact that I am currently in between lectures. But I'm currently reading three books at once; I am still reading Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I am half way through and I am in love. It is beautifully magic and definetly embodies characteristics of Pan's Labyrinth. Karou is so candid, to the best of her ability. We are just as much in the dark as she is. I cannot wait to finish reading this book and continue you with the rest of the series.

I am also reading Fowles' The French Lieutenant's Woman for my class on the realist novel. Fowles literally breaks the fourth wall and it made me physically uncomfortable! But I am enjoying this book immensely! I will try my best to remember to post a review afterwards. I'd just like to finish a book first.

And finally I am reading Paradise Lost for my Shakespeare and the renaissance class. Interesting book, but I am not planning on reading the whole thing. Satan is very endearing, and that's something I never thought I would type.

What are you all reading this week?





A Summer Bucket List

So Chelsey and I were awake until like half past three last night and decided to write a bucket list for the summer! This might motivate us to actually get through our assignments. God I have so much to do.

I have so many books that I want to read over the summer, too. How about a list;

1. I really want to finish my reading of Jane Austen's books, which means that I have Mansfield Park and Persuasion to read, at last.
2. Sarah J Maas' A Court of Rings and Ruin comes out on the second of May, and yet the threat of impending deadlines will prevent me from actually reading this book. So technically, this book will be a summer read.
3. The new Matt Haig book. I loved what I have read of Reasons to Stay Alive and the summary for his new book sounds absolutely amazing.
4. Finishing Sylvia Plath's journals is an absolute must! I've been putting them on my appallingly long to be read list for months now. I cannot wait to finish them, but they require my full concentration. I don't get much time for reading these days.


Summer is going to be crazy, in the best kind of way. I'm just looking forward to a break and some sun!

(Wondering what we meant by 'learn a movie script? Well Chels happens to know the entire script to Shrek 2. Horse noises and everything. It's a impressive skill!)

On a side note; I am currently sat in my lecture on very little sleep. We are exhausted and as it is the last class before the Easter holidays, hardly anybody has shown up. This makes me sad. But back to Paradise Lost.

Hope you're all having a great week and if you have any suggestions of things we can add to the list, please feel free!