Thursday, April 20, 2017

13 Reasons Why - a Parent’s Perspective

Everybody has been talking about 13 Reasons Why. Here’s my take on it.

As a story it is hard to suspend disbelief because:
  • The make-up is distractingly bad
  • Senoirs do not hang out with juniors in real life
  • Clay does not listen to all tapes asap
  • The gay Fonzi character is more like a guardian angel than a person
  • There are just too many secrets
  • There is no need for Jeff to die
  • It makes no sense that Hannah needs to work in her parent’s shop when they have no customers.
  • Two boys are brutally bashed and walk away - they are not even taken to hospital, and their parents accept this (perhaps due to the unconvincing make-up)

Yes, it is irresponsible, but the teens I’ve talked to (or overhead at my 17 year old’s birthday party) think that the show is a failure because it is unbelievable.    

There are lots of ways you can look at the show - through the lens of class or gender and how schools are a melting pot that are supposed to teach children how to socialise. Are we teaching children that society is brutal, and that the biggest bullies win? Sometimes I think these USA high school shows teach toxic masculinity and toxic femininity. As well as teaching people how to commit a revenge suicide, leaving the bath running - which is the standard tv bath death - more dramatic (I don't know if it is true to life, because journalists have a code of conduct which means they don't report methods of suicide - unlike producers of tv shows).

And it is concerning that Hannah repeatedly stands up for herself - she tells people to go away when she is uncomfortable, for example, and confronts people - and for that people consider her a bitch or crazy - but the message is that people should not have taken her at her word and should have persisted. So, damned if you do and damned if you don't. And reinforces the message that girls don't know what they want and can't speak for themselves. Even when they do. Which empowers the abusers and guilt trips the people who did take her at her word. Not a good message.

So, what are parents to do?
  • Don’t send you kids to school early - size matters
  • Talk to other parents
  • Have your kids in shared bedrooms - siblings are insurance for knowing what is going on. (None of the teen shows - Pretty Little Liars, Gossip Girl, 13 Reasons Why - would have plots if the main characters shared a bedroom with younger siblings.)
  • Ethics classes for all (includes practising the no name calling policy - and that applies to everyone everywhere).

If you are a parent and want to think about the mental health of teenagers, watch this instead. This is probably what the next series will be about.

1 comment:

Evie Cath said...

Ha! So true! Love this Katheryn! Mothehuggger cynicalness at its best!