[Disclaimer: if you haven’t watched 13 Reasons Why yet (where have you been) there may be spoilers]
Dear The World,
This issue has been bothering me for a few weeks now, and that is, the issue of people writing articles about how ‘dangerous’ the series “13 Reasons Why” is.
It is incredibly simple to understand. The series is not dangerous. The series is fictional. The series is appropriately rated. The series warns that viewer discretion is advised.
Many of you argue that it is wrong for Hannah Baker to blame her suicide on others. You say suicide can not be blamed on anybody but the person who is choosing to take their own life. Well then by that logic, this series can not be blamed for anybody taking their own life.
You are angry and upset that you were subjected to images of a fictional teenager taking her own life and slitting her wrists? You think somebody contemplating suicide sees these images and thinks “razor blades, well why didn’t I think of that.” I very much doubt that.
In an age of the world wide web, if somebody wanted a guide to suicide, it would not be hard to find one. If you type “how to commit suicide” into Google, the first result is the phone number for Lifeline, followed by a Wikipedia page on the different ways people commit suicide, followed by Quora’s page with the cheapest and easiest ways to commit suicide.
It may have been difficult to watch Hannah Baker take her own life, but I found it just as hard, if not harder to watch Bryce rape two girls. I’m not saying it wasn’t hard to watch the scene where Hannah slits her wrist, but personally it was harder for me to sit through a rape. Hannah was making a choice to end her life, and those visuals were the reality of that. However Hannah and Jessica had no say in Bryce’s choice to rape them. He was stealing something from their souls, and nobody even bothers mentioning that. So to me, it seems that we’re saying someone will view this series as a guide to suicide but rape is different? That people know that rape is wrong, they won’t use any kind of sexual assault seen on television or on the big screen as a guide.
What about the complex plots about serial killers and murders that we see on television and the big screen? Are those storylines and plots not considered as ‘Murder for Dummies’? If you Google “real life crimes based on movies”you will find a list of examples.
It seems to me that people are just hopping on the bandwagon of this issue. All the articles pretty much the same thing, because I believe the subject really has very little substance. It’s a popular topic at the moment and everybody wants click bait. Everybody just wants something thats going to start conversation in the comments, even though by the looks of it, most people seem to be on the other side of the issue.
For example, Wendy Squires of the Sydney Morning Herald pens – [13 Reasons Why: ‘I saw enough to be haunted by that image forever’]. If Wendy has seen so few horrible things in her life that 13 Reasons Why will stick with her ‘forever’, then I am frankly a little bit jealous. She continues, [A controversial show has cast suicide as a form of triumphant payback. It is dangerous and wrong.] I’m sorry, triumphant payback? The girl is dead, thats it for her, she gets no payback once she’s dead. And if you think that that is the message the writers wanted you to take away from the series, then you have sadly missed the whole point.
To get to the point, I find it a double standard. I don’t believe we should be condemning a fictional series based on it’s possible influence on people, especially considering its powerful and important message. Considering that there is so much media content readily available, there are definitely a few other things I can think of that you should be worried about influencing people negatively.
There are so many young people who have taken their own lives recently. Who grew up with no education about suicide and what would seem to be no knowledge of what to do when you don’t feel okay. Just off the top of my head, I can think of 7 people who have taken their own life in the past few years. It’s tragic and we are not doing enough. Suicide has a stigma and is avoided but it needs to be addressed and spoken about in a setting for young people. It needs to become important.
When it all boils down to it, the series is supposed to leave people considering the way that they treat their fellow man. To call it dangerous and wrong, and possibly turn people away from watching it, is in itself dangerous and wrong.
To live by that logic, is the live by the rule that no fictional entertainment with any type of anti social behaviour should be broadcast or made available to anybody. Anybody who is viewing any type of media content and considering it as a guide to anti social behaviour should seek professional help and continue to enjoy media and content for what it is intended for – entertainment.
If you are feeling upset, or if you don’t feel okay. Talk to somebody about it, talk to anybody. They will care. And if they don’t, talk to me. Find someone who will care because everybody matters.
Lifeline 13 11 14