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

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.

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