Actual Proof Why “13 Reasons Why” is Not Good for Television

Actual Proof Why “13 Reasons Why” is Not Good for Television


It often seems kind of petty to say that a TV show or a movie can affect anyone in such a way that they seek to emulate the acts they see being performed on the screen, but as Matthew S. Schwartz from NPR has shown in his article it does seem to be that some teenagers have been doing just this following the release of 13 Reasons Why. Somehow the idea of suicide has become something that’s either seen as a way to get attention, to be seen as serious, cool, or perhaps just an escape from the constant pain of depression that some kids feel. That it’s even come to this kind of discussion is simply sad as the suicide rate of teenagers seems to be on the rise again. We can blame movies and TV shows all we want, they’re easy targets and are hard to defend since the directors and the cast don’t often fight back, but 13 Reasons Why even had a warning about the show for those that were about to watch, which makes it seem as though the show might have known that the subject they were covering was going to be something highly controversial for others to be viewing. That being said though the artistic license is something that you can’t really stymie without looking like a complete fascist that doesn’t want the subject being discussed.

Unfortunately, as David Barker of New Statesman America writes, the disclaimers came up short when it came to telling those that might be triggered not to watch. It didn’t say a single thing about not watching the show if a person had ever had experience with self-harm, which is argumentative when you think about how this makes them responsible for the harm that it might cause. Obviously the show isn’t going to catch anything but flak since it’s a work of fiction, but the subject matter is still a concern since it doesn’t deal solely with teen suicide, but goes into rape as well. One would think that young people are this easy to sway but given all that’s been seen lately it’s hard to say otherwise. By the time a person reaches their teen years it’s the belief of some that they’ve become free-thinking individuals that are able to make their own choices and pull from the life experiences they’ve had or are in the midst of having to make the right choices. It’s true that not every kid has that chance since from the start some individuals don’t have a lot of good role models in their lives to help them sort out what’s ‘good’ and what’s ‘bad’. But shows like this unfortunately don’t offer a healthy escape into the realm of fiction for those whose decision-making capabilities are either flawed or woefully underdeveloped.

Think about it this way, when we were little and watching cartoons we might have tried to emulate what we saw, but the moment we did we figured out that the human body isn’t meant to sustain the kind of injuries that cartoons or even live-action heroes are, and we thought twice about doing such things again. These are teenagers that are committing these acts, and as Zoe Williams from The Guardian states they might as well be watching a ‘how-to’ guide in the form of this show. The program dramatizes suicide in such a way that it becomes a revenge story bent on making certain that the life of the person that commits suicide isn’t the only one ruined in some way, but those that contributed to the act in their own way are made to suffer on an internal level that the individual desires. This seems more than a little petty and quite childish if anyone wants an honest opinion. Yes, calling a person that commits suicide petty and childish is NOT taboo because no matter what they’re feeling and how much they’re hurt the act of taking one’s own life is an act of giving up, of admitting that there is absolutely no one that they can speak to, that they aren’t willing to even try (before anyone asks, yes, I’ve been there and lost someone). However, this show winds up being quite petty with it since they not only undergo the pain of loss by dint of this young woman’s suicide, but they depict her final act of revenge being enacted via cassette tape as she goes into detail how each person manage to contribute to her final decision.

It’s too easy to blame a show, but in this manner it’s justified in a way since the creator of 13 Reasons Why hit the gas and never looked back. Suicide is a very serious matter to talk about, but it’s also something you might want to think about before making it seem entertaining to susceptible teens.

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