13 Reasons Why Phenomenon

todayMay 2, 2017 40

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By Maria Martinez
Blog Content Contributor

During the summer of 2014, as I was flying to New York, I finished the book Thirteen Reasons Why. It was so addicting; I couldn’t stop reading it because I wanted to know all about this girl. I wanted to understand why she made the decision to end her life. When I found out they were going to turn this book into a show, I was fangirling. As soon as they premiered it, I started to watch it and obviously I was hooked.

Everyone is talking about this show right now. It has quickly become a phenomenon and we can prove it since it’s literally breaking social media records. Not even super-popular shows like Stranger Things, Orange is the New Black or House of Cards can touch its online popularity. Every time I log on to Facebook or Twitter, my whole feed is filled with 13 Reasons Why posts. I’ve even seen everything from memes making fun of Hannah, saying she is overly sensitive and dramatic, to posts that are praising the show.

Screen Shot 2017-04-21 at 12.37.39 PM
“I feel these 13 Reasons Why memes are diminishing the importance of this story and its theme.” Photo via Twitter @Novocaline and @CarrieShade.

I am sure you all have seen the most popular meme, which uses the phrase “Welcome to your tape,” which Hannah’s voice-over repeats on each episode, marking the exact moment she felt betrayed/disconnected from the subject of the tape. I can honestly say I waste many hours of my day tagging my friends in stupid memes I find, but not everything in life needs to be memed.  I feel these 13 Reasons Why memes are diminishing the importance of this story and its theme.

Instead of making memes, people should just understand the meaning of it. This series shows topics like bullying, self-harm, slut-shaming, rape and counseling, just as they are, not sugar coated. Most of these topics have been taboo for many years, so watching a show that demonstrates that all of these things as they happen in the real world, especially in high school, is impressive. Think about it: there have been previous shows about high school drama (Gossip Girl, Beverly Hills, 90210) but none of them have been as real as this one. All of these previous shows have only glamorized teens’ lives.

This semester I am taking a gender and society class. Last week the professor asked the class to raise their hand if they knew of someone who had been a victim of date rape. 95 percent of the class raised their hand. She then asked how many of those rape victims had reported it, and not even five people kept their hand up.

As I was watching the last episodes, I couldn’t help but think about that class. It is sad to think about how many girls and boys have gone through similar experiences as Hannah or Jessica did. This show teaches its viewers that keeping things to ourselves is not good. If you feel like you cannot talk to any friend or family member, there are many places whose sole purpose is to prevent these kinds of tragedy. It is okay not to feel okay sometimes. What is not okay is not telling someone about it.

Many people are critiquing the show because it’s too raw–the way of showing Hannah’s suicide, the rape scenes, etc. I honestly felt so uncomfortable when Hannah was slitting her wrists; I even had to close my eyes because it was too much for me. However, I applaud them for making this bold decision, because the truth of the matter is that suicide is not pretty. This show is not a tutorial about how to kill yourself, as many people are saying. It is an eye opener that shows a suicide is painful for everyone, not just the victim. When I saw her parents running to her, it broke my heart.  

I hope that people will be encouraged to talk about their own experiences after seeing or talking about the show. Mental health is just as important as physical health, don’t take it lightly. On average, there are 121 suicides per day, and I am sure some of them could have been prevented.  If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text Crisis Text Line at 741-741.

Lastly, please don’t be mean to people because you never know what they are going through. Being cruel is not cool. So even if you think you are saying the most insignificant thing to someone, these things could change their life. Think before you speak and act.

Featured image via Netflix.

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