Hey, it’s Kellie.
Don’t adjust your… whatever device you’re reading this on.
It’s me, live and in print.
No return engagements, no encore, and this time, absolutely no requests.
Get a snack. Settle in.
Because I’m about to tell you why 13 Reasons Why deserves a tape.
Let’s get started.
In honour of the hollywood formula 13 Reasons Why follows, it’s time to play the blame game, it’s time to reduce my recent anger, resentment, and anxiety, to one show, and everyone involved in it.
So, 13 Reasons Why, get ready.
I know what you were trying to do.
To open up a conversation. To reduce stigma. To bring awareness.
But you failed.
We’re all talking like you wanted us to. But not the way we should be.
See, I know people as young as 11 years old who are watching you. People who have never even had their first kiss, and aren’t tall enough to ride every ride at Wonderland, and have never written an essay – who are now watching rape scenes and a girl slit her wrists in the bathtub.
And you’re eating up this preteen support, you’re relishing in it.
“We stayed very true to the book and that’s initially what [author] Jay Asher created was a beautifully tragic, complicated yet suspenseful story and I think that’s what we wanted to do. We wanted to do it justice and, yeah, [the backlash is] gonna come no matter what. It’s not an easy subject to talk about, but I’m very fortunate with how it’s doing.”
“I just wanted it to come across in a way that kids would be frightened, but confused, and in a way that they would talk about it because it’s something that’s happening all the time.”
“Very fortunate with how it’s doing”.
“Wanted kids to be frighted and confused”.
Sorry, but what the f Selena?
I have empathy for you and the mental health issues you’ve battled, completely. But you’ve just admitted your target audience is KIDS. And that you wanted to scare and frighten them about issues surrounding suicide?
I’m concerned, and congrats – even as an adult, I am also confused and frightened.
Children are vulnerable, and children shouldn’t be exposed to media that will harm and confuse them – especially when many of them are watching it without their parents nor with support of a mental health professional…
How long will it take for a young person to watch this show, be triggered, confused, and upset enough to hurt themselves?
13 Reasons Why, you discuss a taboo topic which has created a larger conversation, great.
But where is the depiction of healthy relationships between parents and their children within the show? What makes a child know they can discuss what their feeling?
I believe it’s more likely that children will internalize their deeper concerns about the show and instead just brag to their friends that they watched the ‘adult’ and ‘explicit’ show that they knew they probably shouldn’t have been watching… because it’s “cool” right now.
And how did they watch it?
On Netflix, in their own bedrooms, or at their friends houses, with no supervision.
And even if their parents did see what they were watching, it’s likely they felt unthreatened by a show packaged by Netflix as a High school drama – “it’s probably like Glee – right”?
Now that the show has experienced controversy, parents have learned more about these concerns…. But in the first few weeks it was out, kids consumed it quickly, binge-watching, and their parents were none the wiser.
Netflix – where were the warnings?
Where were the parental controls?
And back to having open and healthy conversations….
The show doesn’t make any of this clear. The show doesn’t depict a single successful attempt to reach out for help – and this is dangerous.
13 Reasons Why, you divide parents and children, school councillors and children. You tell kids that it’s ok to internalize problems, and questions about death, and feelings, and what’s going on at school – especially if they’re being bullied.
You also never discuss the entire subject you claim to expose: Mental Health.
13 Reasons Why, where the hell is your discussion on mental health?
Why are you so focused on suicide when the reason people arrive to that decision is because their fighting a much larger battle…. a mental illness?
You show Clay having hallucinations and panic attacks like they’re nothing for god sakes!
The show is cinematically pleasing, the actors are talented and beautiful, the story line cliffhangers are engaging.
But, Selena and crew, if your main goal was to raise awareness (and not to just pick up a paycheque on content you knew would SELL), where the hell is your journalistic integrity?
Where’s your larger campaign to tackle mental health issues?
Where is your public warning that children under the age of 14, or 15, or 16, or 17, shouldn’t watch the show alone, or at all?
“CMHA is concerned that the series may glamorize suicide, and that some content may lead to distress in viewers, and, particularly, in younger viewers. The portrayal does not follow the media guidelines as set out by the Canadian Association of Suicide Prevention (CASP) and the American Association of Suicidology”.
The went on to say:
“The reasons why an individual may die by suicide are complex. Stigma often prevents people from seeking help when they are feeling suicidal, and that’s why it’s important to raise awareness of this preventable public health concern.”
And this is important.
Shows about mental health, especially youth programs, should be balanced with themes of awareness, and outreach, and counselling, and parental support, and offer preventative solutions (such as therapy, medication, etc) that are communicated as helpful coping tools.
They also raise a HUGELY important point:
“The portrayal does not follow the media guidelines as set out by the Canadian Association of Suicide Prevention (CASP) and the American Association of Suicidology”.
What do those guidelines say?
I’m glad you asked.
In part, CASP says:
To Discourage Imitative or Copycat Suicides, It Is Important To Avoid Or Minimize:
– Reporting specific details of the method
– Descriptions of a suicide as unexplainable e.g., “He had everything going for him.”
– Reporting romanticized versions of the reasons for the suicide(s), e.g., “We want to be together for all eternity.”
So…13 Reasons Why,
I want to know your response to the above.
I want to know why your show is marketed towards kids.
I want to know why you chose Netflix, and uploading a whole series at once – where young children can freely binge-watch dark material for hours on end, back to back, with no supervision or support.
I want to know why you never gave Hannah a fair chance, nor a single positive encounter with a helpful peer, or parent, or councillor.
I want to know why you haven’t spoken out to accept and support the concerns psychiatrists, mental health professionals, school boards, and the world is expressing…
I want to know why you covered mental health issues in romance and hollywood spectacle, and never even truly talked about it at all.
And most of all, I want to know why you think that depicting suicide as a clever way to teach others a lesson, and to punish them, is appropriate and not completely fucked up.
13 Reasons Why… get ready… you should expect a lot more tapes to come your way.
If you are feeling suicidal, or know someone who is, please reach out for help. In Canada, call Kids Help Phone at 1 (800) 668-6868 or visit the website to chat. Other general crisis lines in your community can be found here: http://www.yourlifecounts.org/need-help/crisis-lines