I watched Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why in a stream of sadness that erupted into a firestorm of anger. I finished the series with a burning desire to set the world ablaze. I’m still in a bit of a hungover-like fog that’s clouding my private thoughts. I’m busy slashing people from my life left and right and it feels satisfying. The show affected me, and not in a great way.
Critics be damned, the show has hit a nerve. Perhaps it’s because we all know these characters: the privileged jock that gets away with it all; the super-hot boy that will graduate from high school and realize that his smoldering eyes will never mask his white trash upbringing, and the beautifully troubled girl that is either going onto really great things, or something tragic. In Hannah’s case, it’s something tragic.
We know these people because there’s some of us in every one of them.
We know because high school never ends, we’re burdened by our past and then corporate culture, child-rearing and community transform into another incarnation of high school. Those jocks become middle-management assholes and the geeks become their bosses. The bullying continues, but it’s in an understated, more professional manner.
Hannah’s suicide doesn’t come as a surprise, but the scene is unflinchingly raw and just terrible. Is the show glorifying teen suicide? I’m not sure, but the World Health Organization reports that suicide has become the leading killer of teenage girls, worldwide. The show is prompting conversations about the loneliness, sexual assaults and pressure that can envelope the life of a teen. It shines a light on the sometimes ineptitude of high school counselors and the innocent ignorance of concerned parents.
I actually kind of loved being a teenager and was thankfully void of many of Hannah’s problems, but I’ve got a chip on my shoulder and I like to dig right into it. So, in homage to Hannah and her pain, I’m eliminating unnecessary people from my life, even if it’s in a digital sense. I’m thinking of Hannah as I realize that jerks are jerks and there’s no need to deal with them. I’m assigning blame to wrongdoers and calling them out on their nonsense. In the crowded and bustling hallway of my current high school, I’m clearing some space.
Rage on, teenagers and rest in peace, Hannah Baker.