I’ve read quite a bit about the Netflix show 13 Reasons Why lately. I even received communication from my son’ school regarding this show. I binged-watched the show the first weekend it was available. Were there moments that I was uncomfortable – yes – and that’s the point.
Has the nation turned a blind eye to the suicide epidemic we have in America? Why are we still insisting that bullying isn’t “that bad” and that the person who commits suicide is doing so because they are selfish? 13 Reasons is a wake up call.
If you are a parent, you should sit down and watch this show with your children. Discuss what each character could have done differently. What could the lead have done differently? If you are in education, discuss this with your team and administrators. Come up with a curriculum – a real curriculum – that digs deeper into the themes of this show. 13 Reasons is more reality than many of the critics want to admit.
Should there be trigger warnings. Absolutely. 13 Reasons deals with rape, underage drinking, bullying, and abuse. Each of these are triggers on their own. Did any of it trigger me personally? Absolutely. There were scenes that caused me to be a sobbing mess. That caused me to revisit my past. But here’s the thing, it also served as a reminder to me that I still have to fight. Bullying, rape, abuse – these are all still happening and they are happening at an even greater rate and intensity than when I was younger. 13 Reasons reminded me why I need to fight. No one should ever feel they have no other way out. No one should ever feel they aren’t being heard or supported.
I recently saw a meme about 13 Reasons that said something 13 Reasons being sensationalized and not giving any alternatives to suicide. I wanted to scream. THAT’S THE POINT. 13 Reasons wasn’t about tying everything up in a pretty bow like an after school special. It showed the reality of someone dealing with the aftermath of bullying, rape, and abuse.
Are there alternatives, yes. Is there help, yes. BUT unfortunately there is not enough help, not enough support. If you go into rural areas, where is the help? Most school counselors are trained for steering a person through classes and making sure they graduate, not dealing with someone who has been raped. That’s reality.
The reality is society still puts most if not all the blame on the victims. If you are being bullied it’s because you made yourself a target, if inappropriate pictures and stories are shared about you, it’s your fault for putting yourself in that position-even if you did nothing wrong! If you are raped – well what were you wearing, did you have anything to drink, why did you attend that party, what were you doing out so late by yourself, etc.
Face reality society. We are causing the suicides. We are causing the despair. We are causing the pain. And only we can stop it. So instead of attacking a show that dared to be real and not pretty it up – ask what you can do to make your school, your neighborhood safer for everyone. Fight the bigotry, sexism, homophobia, and the social injustices. Don’t accept the status quo. Locker room talk is not acceptable. Boys will be boys is not acceptable. Hate is not acceptable. Bullying is not acceptable. Using a rating system is not acceptable. Be the example for your friends – don’t go along with the “joke”. Let them know their behavior is not acceptable. Will it be uncomfortable for you – yes. Will you lose friends – possibly. Chances are though you’ll earn respect from many more.
Let’s stop pretending. Let’s start being real about things. It’s only by facing the evils that we can ever hope to defeat them.