13-reasons-why-book-vs-show-1491240179

‘Thirteen Reasons Why’ sparks discussion

Apr 26 • Arts & Leisure • 413

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SARA BORRO
staff writer
The issue of bullying has been a large problem in schools across our country for as long as children have been going to school together.
In the last decade, bullying has adapted a whole new power with the advances in technology and communication ability. Kids are no longer able to escape bullying in their own homes due to the vast accessibility and exposure to social media and personal messaging abilities.
Schools have been implementing anti-bullying and bullying prevention programs since the ‘80s, but the issue is still extremely present and prevalent, and alternative education regarding anti-bullying and the effects of bullying on individuals is needed.
Earlier this month, Netflix released an original series titled “Thirteen Reasons Why.” The show is based on a young adult novel written by Jay Asher.
The novel was first published in 2007 and is the story of a high school student named Hannah Baker. Hannah commits suicide due to the vicious and relentless bullying she was subject to at school, and leaves cassette tapes with messages she recorded for the individuals she feels are responsible for her death.
The show provides an excellent and haunting look into what bullying can do to a person, and what the aftermath of suicide can consist of, especially for young people.
The series stars Dylan Minnette and Katherine Langford as Clay Jenson and Hannah Baker. Minnette and Langford, along with all the other cast members, did an excellent job of creating an authentic experience for audience members.
“Thirteen Reasons Why” has received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback from critics and audiences because of how raw and powerful the message is. The issues present in the show include rape, homosexuality, mental illness and self-harm. While often difficult subjects for people to talk about, they are extremely important things that need to be talked about, and the show certainly delves deep into these subjects fearlessly.
This series provides a dynamic perspective for individuals to gain an understanding of the endless string of consequences that can stem from a single action, and how we are never able to know how our actions are truly affecting others. It shows us that our words can really hurt other people, and what might be a joke to someone can be detrimental to someone else.
However, while this show is a bold and brave stance on anti-bullying and has numerous positive aspects, this story can also be extremely problematic.
Some arguments state that the show and the way the story was presented has glorified or romanticized suicide. Hannah’s peers and friends don’t begin to understand what they have done and they don’t begin to respect Hannah until after she is dead. For someone struggling with mental illness and self-harm — especially young adults — this can be an extremely negative and destructive model.
The show’s creators had to dance around a very fine and blurry line to create and express the intended message, and while they successfully did, the story still can be interpreted as problematic, and that is something extremely important for audience members to be aware of.
Overall, the show and the message it expresses are very important for young individuals to understand, and while containing very difficult subject matter, the show is very powerful and will reside with all who watch it.

SARA BORRO
borro003@knights.gannon.edu

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