Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Thoughts on 13 Reasons Why

I haven't posted anything for a v e r y long time, I'm sorry, university got in the way. I'v enow finished for the year, which I can't believe, and since I have. Avery long holiday I'm going to try my best to give this blog a bit of TLC, starting with this post. I thought it would be fair to warn anyone reading this that I will be discussing suicide in some depth so don't read on if this could affect you.

When I watched 13 Reasons Why I had no idea it was going to be as popular as it was. 13 Reasons Why is everywhere. It's been all over my Facebook, either with people liking memes or sharing articles written about it. in fact, the articles are numerous- the show has certainly made an impact and proved... controversial. I suppose this is understandable given the subject matter, a show which tackles suicide and its consequences in such a forward manner was probably never going to fly under the radar. I've decided to get in on the action and share a few of my own thoughts on the show, especially as I haven't seen too many people who reflect my thoughts.

I wanted to start off by saying that I really enjoyed the show. It's dramatic and fast paced and emotional, everything that makes for a captivating show. I acknowledge it has flaws. The one that stands out to me most prominently is that the show failed to effectively address the part mental health plays in suicide, and the fact that suicide is, most of the time, a fatal result of illnesses such as depression. Instead, it makes it seem like Hannah took her life solely because of the behaviour of others, and possibly even as an act of revenge in order to make those who humiliated and/or hurt her feel bad. I understand the sentiment behind this (which I'll discuss shortly), but this, in my opinion, increases the stigma surrounding mental illnesses, making it seem like mental illness and suicide are choices made by an individual.

However, I also understood what Hannah was going through, and how that could push someone towards committing suicide. I even got why it would motivate her to record the tapes. What seems to be lost in a lot of articles in which people share their views on the show is how it is possible that actions such as those of the recipients of the tapes (with the exception of Clay) can make you feel so awful about yourself that suicide actually seems like a viable option. If you're already predisposed to feeling worthless and hopeless (which, as I said, isn't captured in the show though it really should be, as far as I could see there was no evidence of Hannah having any such thoughts before everything happened, though maybe I just missed it) behaviour like that can add serious fuel to the fire- it provides justification for your thoughts. You must be worthless, because that's what other people are conveying through the way they treat you. It gives your negative thoughts evidence, which in turn allows them to take over and overwhelm you. These negative thoughts can then be used to justify committing suicide. I'm presuming that all of this is what Hannah experienced.

Also, while I agree that making the tapes in order to hold the individuals accountable is petty I also understand her motives for doing so- the immense anger and hurt she must have felt towards all those people for evoking these feelings within her, for robbing her of whatever happiness she might have had with their stupid actions. Again, I'm not saying it's not wrong of her to carry it out and force the recipients to shoulder the blame for killing her, but I get how anger towards them might have directed her to take revenge in the only way she felt she could in order to make up for her hurt.

The one thing I've learnt this year in my English degree is that even if a fictional piece aims to reflect real life it is, ultimately, fictitious and this should be taken into account. I feel this definitely applies to 13 Reasons Why- it may reflect a situation which is very real for many people but it's sole purpose isn't to educate- it's to entertain. I'd also like to stress that these are my own personal opinions based on experiences etc., and I don't take them to be facts in any way.

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