13 Reasons Why: A Critique (Part 1)

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I have been due to write about "13 Reasons Why" for a long, long time, but I haven't been because of the events happening in my life. Now that I'm settling into my new apartment (actually my room. It's a room I'm renting) and I've finally had the watch the WHOLE thing. Now, I can.

"13 Reasons Why" has received a LOT of cheers and jeers. Though in my opinion, it has received more jeers. As of late, I have been reading how blame is now on the show how young teens have been looking online on how to "kill themselves". Or how the show "glorifies" suicide. So here I was in my room watching the last 3 episodes and asking myself, "Where are people getting this from???" The show is about how a young girl came to end due to all the experiences she had with 12 of her classmates. There is a 13th person, but I don't want to spoil it for those who haven't seen the film yet.

The film though doesn't just talk about her life, but also the lives of the people who affected hers. The tapes disturbed to them had harsh truths of their actions and even to who they really were.Thoughout the series, you see the characters trying protect their own secrets from being exposed to their town. Although not ALL the characters were bullies or meant to become one, but it made sense why as they were. Some bullies were also bullies because of how the environment "worships" their talent instead of their morality.

This is mistake number one that EVERYONE, yes EVERYONE made on the show… It's rated MA. Hello??? Did ANYONE even bother reading the rating??? So as a recap, MA means "mature audiences" which means the show will feature, foul language, graphic violence, graphic sexual activity or any combination of the two."  It doesn't stand for "Mighty Awesome" tv show. We have technology now that EVERYONE has access too, so there is no excuse, absolutely no excuse people can't look up stuff like this. It's easy.

 

 

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TV Parental Guidelines such as this began back in 1996" to help protect kids and teens from shows that might have a negative impact on kids.  The things is when people or parents or even their young kids/teenagers heard of a show "13 Reason Why" they were probably thinking of this:

 Or these other classic teen movies…

 

(Most of all I have watched.)

Mistake, mistake, mistake. These days are not THOSE days of watching teen movies/tv shows. And "13 Reasons Why" is definitely NOT your typical teenage/angst film.  I get it… the actors LOOK like teenagers (they're more like early to mid twenties), but that doesn't MEAN it's a film teens should watch. Especially on movies that "talk" a LOT about deep topics. If not outright, it's depicted. Here are those topics:

Mental Health/Suicide

Sexual Assault/Rape

Bullying

Domestic Violence*

*Indirectly mentioned

These are some pretty DEEP topics—topics that MUST be discussed with kids and definitely, cannot be discussed alone. In spite of my difficult childhood, one of the things that ALWAYS brought us together were movies and tv shows. And my dad was ALWAYS with me watching these movies. Whenever there was movie with a sex scene, like say in "The Matrix" or "Underworld 2", he'd always say, "Sex is not for kids (even though I was a teen) or "If I catch you ever have a child out of wedlock, I'll throw you out of the house."

"Okay daddy." I'd always respond. Sometimes though he'd take what he saw on tv shows and movies too seriously. Like I remember when "Pocahontas" first came into theaters (I was about 9 at the time) and there was a scene where Pocahontas and John Smith were kissing so passionately, that after my sister, myself and my dad finished watching the movie, my dad as were walking out of the movie into the parking lot was fuming! " I can't believe they would show that to young kids! That movie is definitely NOT for kids!" I remember just being so embarrassed by my dad's reaction and the reaction of other adults seeing my dad fuming at a children's movie. What I'm saying is that there are times parents need to supervise what their kids are watching. The problem is parents don't these days. I remember working at a restaurant and seeing this parent trying to keep their child calm down. So the parent got out a their ipad and the kid, of course, was silent. It is not healthy for a child to have a tv screen of some sort always be put in their face all the time. Push them to read or draw or go outside and play…something. Help them to be aware of their surroundings (because I see that inclining a LOT now days among young kids, teens AND adults). My parent always pushed me to be proactive in my life and to be aware of my surroundings. My parents always worked, especially my mom, but she was never to tired to tell me to turn of the TV or even do it herself and tell me to do something with my time. As a kid, I hated it, but as an adult I understand now and I am grateful. So, don't worry parents, your kids will understand and appreciate why put your foot down one day. Anymore than you will have to look past the screaming, whining, moaning and other forms of tempter tantrums, one day they look past them too. The thing is kids won't always know what they're watching and will NOT understand (especially with the content out these days!). So you have to be there and in a sense be ready to provide commentary on the film. If you can't, do it after, but either way do it soon, because you don't know how what they saw or heard in a movie or tv show is going to stick in their minds. It might stick in a negative way or a positive one. Heck, like me when I was young, they may have not paid any mind to it. Though, you can't think expect you'll be lucky to have a kid who won't pay much mind to these things.

I say these things especially, because if feels like now days parents don't take responsibility for anything (and could explain why some kids don't take any responsibility for their actions either). I remember not too long ago, parents were blaming Cookie Monster as to why their kids eat too many cookies/junk foods. I was like to myself, "Are you freaking kidding me??? You're blaming a muppet???" Uh, who has money to give their kids candy and all that stuff? Parents. "Who prepares the meals??? Parents. Look I'm in my 30s and I still love eating cookies (in fact my dad STILL calls me Cookie Monster)! But I love eating fruits, veges, and other forms of nutritious meals. And who introduced me such health eats? My parents.Who declined me from eating cookies and sweets when I ate too much of them? My parents.Who'd get in trouble for getting cookies when their parents told NOT to buy anymore sweets and ended up getting in BIG trouble for NOT listening to their parent's directions? Me.

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Sorry I digressed. Anywho, when I worked at a bookstore, I remember ringing up books that this mother and daughter had. And one of them was "13 Reason Why". Now as being someone who at the time who had three more episodes of  this show to watch, could relate with deep topics as mentioned in the movie, and IS an educator, could I ALLOW this child to read a book with content they are NOT ready for? Hell no. What I did say to the mother was although the film was good and the book may be just as good, that it provided contents too deep for child to understand. Topics on mental health/suicide and sexual assault were mentioned a LOT in the tv series. It's a show that parents should watch and discuss with their child, but if they needed help on understanding the topics themselves they should go to NAMI and/or RAINN for more information.

"Thank you for telling me." The mother said, "I'll just put that aside."  She then turned to her daughter, "How could you get that book? Wasn't that the book your school emailed to all the parents saying kids should't get, because it was making your classmates very sad???" I could have sworn, (from the side of my eye) the daughter was glaring at me, but I don't want kids to feel sad after reading a book, because books especially for teens should make them happy and not well…depressed. Yeah, the novel, that the tv show was based off was banned from schools, because of it's impact kids. Damn. That's pretty deep. But I gotta admit, the actors on the show were really good. Though, I can't blame kids for being depressed. Hell, I am suffering with chronic anxiety and depression because I have experienced sexual assault, I do live with mental health issues, and I have grown up in a domestic abusive household. So, I can't blame kids for feeling depressed just seeing what these characters are on the show are going through. And let me tell you this is where schools and a parents should be stepping in, because although jr. high school and high schoolers are just teenagers, they are up and coming adults and they are starting to become more and more aware of the world and the world around them. They are not little kids anymore.

(Another hint how the show was deep. The words over the characters. You can kinda tell it was going to get serious. Read them.)

Though I will admit something. The production responsible for the tv show or perhaps Netflix itself, should have put disclaimers in the first few episodes on the content depicted and perhaps at the end referred resources on how to discuss and/or how to be aware of such situations. So far (especially the numerous complaints it had) on last two to three episodes this it what it had:

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Glad they caught it, but they were a bit late.

Me personally, especially as an adult, I liked this show. I thought this a better depiction of mental health and sexual assault than most tv shows and movies do. I feel like most movies and tv shows just like just add those such topics just for entertainment purposes. I am not saying that this wasn't either, but it was more real which I think why kids (I know they are teens, but I call 'em kids any way) liked it. I also like how not only showed the main character's life before her passing, but it showed how human and vulnerable she was and I think it's important that people see that. I feel that when other people hear of those who live with mental illness and/or have survived suicide, they see them as victims of their own pain, but there's much more to it. I liked how the film captured the events and the thoughts of Hannah. She was a very deep person as I or anyone else living with mental illness would understand. The film also did show how hurting people, regardless how small their hurts are (e.g. insecurity/shame), hurt other people which something we tend to forget.

Anyways, I hope there will be a season two and I look forward to know the events that await the 13 people and how her parents find out more on what led to her death.

For more information on "13 Reasons Why", mental health, sexual assault, domestic abuse and TV parental guide lines, click on the links below:

13 Reasons Why

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV)

Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN)

The TV Parental Guidelines

Happy Book Lovers Day!

I never knew there was day dedicated to love of reading book!. And growing up next to watching cartoons, I loved reading books!  I loved how they took me to other worlds and how they informed me of the world I lived in. I embarked on the lives of the greatest leaders that the world has ever known. It was my escape from the world, it was an escape from the troubles at home. It expanded my mind to a lot of thing in addition to the thing I encountered in my everyday life. I even gained interest in writing, because of the books I read.

Yeah, being smart from reading is a plus though.

I remember as a kid, I was very organized and careful with my books. I’d organize them my series and genre and if the spine of a book is off, it’d fix it with tape, glue or staples. I would do a check up on the condition of my books once a month. I  remembered as a kid letting anyone even my sister borrow my books was scary ordeal, because they never came in the same condition as it did before: corner of the page was folded and used as a bookmark, there’d be a dent on the front cover of my book and especially when it was a paperback, it looked so tattered up! It ticked me off! Still does. I’ve owned books, I’ve borrowed book from the library and from school. I mean going to Barnes and Noble growing up was like a toy store for me (still is). I enjoyed toys as a child, but I enjoyed books just as much. You know…I think I am one of the only one a few people I know that own a lot of books (in addition to a lot of DVDs) growing up. I couldn’t imagine my life without books and I hope one day when I have kids of my own, I will share them my love reading (I hope they will love it too). Though I gotta say, I was able to do that with a lot of the kids I was a substitute teacher for. A lot the kids like the energy and enthusiasm I gave while reading.

*sigh* I use to own a LOT of books, good books…books you CAN’T even find anymore. Unfortunately, when my parent divorced I lost a lot of those books and my dad wouldn’t give them back to me. I was fortunately to remake a new book collection, but still…

Anywho, this is the annual Book Lovers Day so celebrate it with your fellow book lovers or buy a new book, or finish that other book you haven’t finished.

Read the book and watched its movie as a child; both were great. I could relate to Matilda’s love of reading.

Changes…

Right now things have been changing in my life… For starters, I will be moving out of my ex's family's place and will be moving in with a girl and her family. I know from one family into another right? But hey…sign of the times. You can't afford a  $1200 studio, but you can only afford to rent a room for $600.  Luckily though my Ex's mother has been helping me, look because I struggling to find good room to rent with decent people and I was finding weirdos via Craig's List. Oi. I just want to find a place to sleep after Uber-ing, going to school and doing student teaching. And most importantly, will not aggravate my already existing  chronic anxiety and depression.  I understand that no place is perfect and everyone has baggage, but I just wanna be in a place where the baggage is trying to be under controlled by the people living there. I got my own already. There was this one place I saw on Craig's List and it said that it would be catered to students and they wanted someone mature and who was clean. But when I got in contact with them, apparently they had someone living with them was the complete opposite and apparently causing hell on earth for them at home. Yeah…. So anyways, this person I will be moving with will not be like that.

Am I excited about the changes? Ehhhh… Being one who lives with anxiety….no. I went from adjusting from one family's way of living from now having to adjust to another family's way of living. Though some how I have a feeling good things may come from living with the family I'm moving into. Perhaps, because I learned how live with my ex and his family. Living with the EX part especially. It was excruciatingly hard because I still loved him (I still do) and it was hard not being loved by him anymore. Yes, we are good friends now. At first it was hard…not just for me, but for him too. Having an EX live in your house…talk about AWKWARD. He'd avoid being near me, sitting near me….I was still greatly upset about how left me and also on how he had doubted my character, especially living with mental illness.

As disappointed and heartbroken as I was, I had to move on. Though it was strange….I still loved him in spite of what happened between us. However, I had to live with him and his family in peace (not just because I needed a place to stay). Not to mention in my heart, I didn't feel it was in a sense…completely over between us and his family. There was still good, just now things would be on hold and we need to (especially the both of us) find ourselves again as even he mentioned himself.

I found myself still praying to God to give me the strength to move past to hurt and continue to love him even though I could no longer do it romantically. And that sucked sooo bad! He himself was always saying, "I hope you still don't have feelings for me." Although I said no, they were still there, just underlock down. I am the type of person to have huge feelings for those I love whether romantically or platonically and to just  not or have someone one to tell you to basically, "drop it" just brakes my heart, you know? Especially knowing me, once I do, I will completely move on. No turning back. With my ex, I don't wanna do that just yet I feel.

Though while working myself and working for Uber, he came to be a friend again like we began last year and he talks to me more. Perhaps also seeing me carry myself well in his house despite the demise of romantic relationship has also made respect me more. But now with Uber not doing so well, (in terms of it not being busy in our hometown and its neighboring cities) he's feeling "blah" right now. But at least we are still talking. I am still amazed by that. I was hoping he wasn't just calling me a "friend" just to "throw me a bone" or cause he looking into/dating a girl ( I don't think so, but still…It's just so weird.  I'm jealous of just thought of that, especially since he says although he isn't into any even though he has girl-friends. But my crazy self is still freakin out. Ugh! Haven't been this way before. First boyfriend, first Ex, so this is all just sooo new.). I just hope we'll still be in good contact after I leave.

Then lately I've been attending Celebrate Recovery at my church. It's not just for those who have drug and/or alcohol dependency, but for those who have "hurts, habits and hang up". I've been to one in a previous church, but this one is much better! It's more community based and we actually go over the four books:

#1: Stepping Out of Denial Into God's Grace

#2: Taking an Honest and Spiritual Inventory

#3 Getting Right with God Yourself and Others

#4 Growing in Christ While Helping Others

I have been learning a lot and it's also helped me open up more with my mom, sister and my ex, especially about the sexual assault that happened to me. In addition to the CBT therapy I've done in the past as well as taking medication, having a Christ centered recovery group as helped me. My mom was surprised I told her and to my surprise she was very supportive. I thought she was going to blame me and say "I was at fault"…but she didn't. She understood the shame was what held me from telling her what happened.My ex who when we were together knew I was keeping something from him. However, even though I told him about what happened, I never told him the shame I felt. I already felt vulnerable with the kicking out from my family's place, living in his place, being sick as well as dealing with such high levels of depression and anxiety from all that has happened I didn't want him to think less of me and/or leave me… But when I told him (much after we broke up) he seemed to understand and I understood why he asked if I was hiding anything from him. But back then, earlier this year was just a whirlwind of problems.

Although I am happy things are mending and moving on, I can't help but to worry. I have lost a lot this year, since last actually and I'm afraid of any more changes especially when school resumes by the end of next month. I am scared. I just feel when I am so close to getting so good and/or I am in a happy place, I lose again. I lost my love, I lost my studio, lost the relationship with my brother, I am afraid to lose again. So once again I am excited about the changes that approach me? To be honest, I'm really not sure.

Confronting Out Feelings

 When living with mental illness, noone tells you the resilience you develop, the courage that would rise within you, and the self acceptance that comes about as a result of confronting yourself. You have no choice BUT TO face yourself: your emotional self, your mental self…  If you don’t, it makes the recovery process difficult. It’s already ENOUGH you go through bouts with the symptoms of your respective mental illness but if you don’t have peace with yourself, your weaknesses and strengths (no matter how humble)…well you know…you will have  major inner turmoil (sorry the best words I can come up with right now) and for those living with mental illness even worse . And most of us with mental illness, unlike the rest of the population, HAVE to face our weaknesses and OWN our uniqueness. And it CAN make us better people because of it. Have better relationship with others because of it. And that’s NOTHING to be ashamed of. I feel sorry for those who CAN’T face themselves, you know some of the “normal functional” people—burying their hurts, running away from who or what makes them truly happy, their fears, the shame of their weaknesses,—the inability to accept their humanity. So how can they accept the humanity of others and those of us who live with mental illness? They can’t until they face who THEY are. WE had to otherwise we wouldn’t have embarked on the journey to recovery. We know we’re going to have good days with our illnesses and we know we’re going to have bad days. We’ve come to peace with that and know when those bad times roll no matter what, even after a good cry, we’re going to get better again and more powerful than before.