Welcome to your tape..
I feel really REALLY weird about the 13 Reasons Why hype, but first, let me give you a bit of background.
I have not watched the netflix series, but I have read the book. I read the book 6 years ago, and I was 16 years old. I was a pretty miserable teen, depressed, anxious, and lonely. I was also, pretty freaking obsessed with Selena Gomez. When I heard that Selena might be starring in a new movie adaptation of a book called 13 Reasons Why, I knew I had to buy it!
At first, I liked it. I liked it because I had never read a book with a character that had depression before, and for the first time, I felt understood. You have to keep in mind that society has changed for the better recently with mental illness; but when I was a teen, it was not talked about as much as it is today. So when I read this book, I understood Hannah Baker, and she understood me.
I loved that she was able to show all of the people that bullied, taunted, and harrassed her just how much they affected her. Why? Because I desperately wanted to do that to my bullies. I hated the fact that while I was self-harming, sleeping less than an hour a night, crying myself to sleep, and hating myself, my bullies were just merrily going about their lives, unaware of the pain they had caused. “What if I killed myself? Then they’d be fucking sorry” was something I would think about often. What if I killed myslef and wrote a note, mentioning them and how they hurt me and caused my suffering? They wouldn’t be able to live with themselves.
Now, as a depressed person, I thought this way of thinking was normal. They bullied me. They pushed me to rock bottom. They caused this. I have dealt with the pain they caused. Now they deserve everything I felt, and then some.
As a non-depressed person, though.. that way of thinking is really messed up. I didn’t really, truly want to kill myself. I didn’t want to kill myslef because life was too unbearable. A small part of me wanted to kill myself… to get revenge on people who I thought caused my depression…. how fucked up is that?! That’s what depression does to your brain, my friends. It completely warps your logic and reasoning.
Hannah Baker killed herself, because the events in her life so far became too much. She felt awful, and life didn’t seem like it would get better anytime soon. BUT, the fact that she took the time and effort to record tapes to send to the people who killed her, shows that she was, in part, doing it for some sort of sick revenge. That’s disgusting.
Now, don’t get me wrong, what I think 13 Reasons why did well is showing people that actions have consequences, words can cut like knives, and that you never know what kind of pain a person is going through in their lives behind closed doors. Maybe, bullies will watch this, and re-evaluate their actions. Maybe it will spark some compassion. Maybe it will make them think twice before calling someone a “slut”, or “ugly”.
However, this redeeming quality does not disguise the fact that this story is kind of messed up.
Listen, if any of you reading this is depressed, and you, like Hannah, desperately wish you could inflict pain on the people who inflicted pain on you; I understand, trust me, but please, let go of that resentment. You will not get over your depression by pre-occupying yourself with other people, and revenge.. you need to focus on you, and get help.
Another obvious critique is that it glamourises suicide and mental illness, which is true, it does. The image of people laying in bed with snacks, watching a series about teenage suicide, makes me feel funny. This is NOT just a story. It’s not just made-up. This happens. Teen suicide is REAL, teen depression is REAL. I think this show crosses the line of “raising awareness” to plain, flat out glamourising it. Making suicide seem poetic and dramatic is a form of romanticizing suicide and depression. People who kill themsleves just go ahead and do it, they don’t conjure up an elaborate way to poetically seeking sickening revenge on people beyond the grave. It makes me mad to think about it.
I have also heard that there is a scene where you actually see Hannah, in pain as she slowly dies. How disgusting!!I personally don’t think they had to show this, they could have implied it, they didn’t have to show it. Vulnerable people, depressed people, are drawn to things that make them more depressed, therefore you will have depressed, suicidal people watching this show.. I urge you to look up “suicide contagion” to see why this is an issue.
Most people who have been heaping praise on 13 Reasons Why for “raising awareness”, from what I’ve seen, have never been depressed before. I have. After reading this book, I wanted to kill myself even more. I harmed myself more. I do not want that to happen to other young people. Back when I read it, it was a little known book. Now that it’s huge.. more vulnerable people are being exposed to it, and that worries me.
Have any of you, who have had depression in the past watched this show, or read the book? What are your thoughts on it?