Discussion: The importance of bully-representation, 13 Reasons Why, & recommendations

Trigger warning: suicide, bullying.Afbeeldingsresultaat voor 13 reasons why

5 minutes ago I finished watching the final episode of Thirteen Reasons Why, the new Netflix series. And if you haven’t yet, I will recommend you to watch it. Not because it is such an amazing series, or that the actors are great, or that the storyline is so intriguing. No. Because, it is one of the most important things I’ve seen all year. As someone who had to deal with bullying myself, seeing this series get so much attention… I can’t even describe how it makes me feel.

If you haven’t heard of it yet, Thirteen Reasons Why is based on the book by Jay Asher (which I’ve read at least twice), and is about Hannah Baker. Hannah Baker made 13 tapes on which she explains why she decided to end her own life. It is about the aftermath of the horrible events that lead her to make this decision.

A couple of years ago I heard about this girl who made a video saying she was going to kill herself, the video went viral and the girl was found dead. I found myself crying at night, simply for the fact that that girl found life so horrible that the prospect of dying was better than to survive another day.

It hurts me so much, that still in those 10 years since Thirteen Reasons Why came out, this is so powerful and especially necessary. That still people don’t see how or why their words and actions affect other people. The weak, who are hunted like they’re not worth any good words. The strong who use their words to put themselves above others.

This issue, the bullying is not solvable just by making the victims stand up for themselves. As a victim myself, I know how it feels like you have nowhere to go, no safe space, no-one to turn to. Even if there are people around you that are willing to talk, going to them is such a huge step. Therefore the only solution is to make the people around them aware, aware of the consequences, aware of the pain. This isn’t an issue that is easily solvable but it must come from us, from all of us.

This series is a step in the right direction. It shows how poisonous it can be, how easy it is to do the wrong thing when you want to do the right thing, how a word, an action can hurt. We need to talk, and make this issue approachable, make ourselves approachable. If you are dealing with this, talk, to me or to someone that you care about. Find help, find a shoulder to cry on, I know it’s hard, but if we don’t change society and it’s ways, this is possibly the only way.

Recommendations

If you want to read more about this topic I will highly recommend reading the book Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher and Wonder by R.J.Palacio. If you want to watch something, I will definitely recommend the Netflix adaptation of Thirteen Reasons Why (2017) and the movie A Girl Like Her (2015). I will trigger warn you, Thirteen Reasons Why contains not only bullying and suicide but also sexual assault and rape.

This series is real and it hurts, but it’s important.

What is your opinion on this topic? How do you think we can solve this issue? Is representation in movies and books the way to go? Do you have any recommendations?


This is the first post in hopefully a long series of discussions about books, blogging, real-life issues and representation.

48 thoughts on “Discussion: The importance of bully-representation, 13 Reasons Why, & recommendations

  1. I love how you decided to write a discussion post about this because it’s such an important topic. I started 13 Reasons Why the other night and binged around 4 episodes and absolutely loved it. It’s so real and raw and it’s so important.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You should, if you want to! Just be warned about the effects it can have. (If you’re struggling with depression/ suicidal thoughts, don’t watch it).
      I hope you love it if you decide to watch it 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow I just read the review and just.. wow. They’re so negative. I can see where the person is coming from but I can’t say I agree completely. Suicide is of course always a complex thing, people don’t do that for no reason. And not all the reasons on the tapes are equally horrible, but I think what it in the end says is that suicide is not entirely the fault of the victim. Everybody plays a role in this and that we can’t put it away as if the victim is the one to blame. In a way I can see how the story “glamorizes” suicide, and I can see that others might see it that way, because after all Hannah got what she “wanted”. However I believe that what the story tells us is the aftermath of such an action, how this affects others. You see parents grieving, friends in pain, the people who loved her going completely insane by their loss. I think it tells us that even though it doesn’t feel like it at all times, there are people around you who are willing to help and that suicide is not simply a way out. Of course I’ve wondered whether there were no other options or possibilities for Hannah, but you can’t simply neglect someone’s feelings because they don’t see any other option, especially when they plan on ending their life.

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  2. I think it’s important we should have movies and books talk about this kind of important social issues. However, it’s a dangerous thing to do. I got really depressed after finishing Thirteen Reasons Why when I was 15 and it was like the suicidal thoughts infiltrated my mind. When I got better later I lent my book to my then best friend and she had depressing thoughts after finishing it too. I’m just glad we didn’t actually do anything harmful to ourselves.
    I haven’t watched the TV adaptation but I hope it gives the bright side a little more exposure to balance the hopelessness in the book. Don’t get me wrong, I loved this book and still do. I just don’t think it’s suitable for all younger readers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is definitely not suitable for young readers. And if you felt that way about the book, I would definitely not recommend to watch the series. It’s been a long time since I read the book, but I can’t recall having ever felt depressed or suicidal because of it, however I can completely see why you would be. The series is very heavy and also very graphic, so it’s definitely something you should look out for. I didn’t realize this before I read your message, but I’ve come to realize how harmful this series can be, so thank you for your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post! Very well worded. I have not read or watched 13 reasons why I’ve heard of the show is very graphic and I don’t feel comfortable watching things like that however I do want to read it. Recently I’ve been seeing a lot of differing opinions about 13 Reasons and I want to judge it for myself and it is such a important topic. I want to read Wonder as well I’ve heard such good things about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The series is in fact very graphic, even for me and I’ve seen a lot of series. I would say that either you should skip the graphic scenes or not watch it at all. I think this book and series are both very controversial and opinions may vary but the message is strong. I hope you love both the books! Wonder is more middle grade, so you don’t have to worry about graphic scenes 🙂

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  4. Is the sexual assault and rape part very graphic? Because I want to watch it, but I don’t think I’d be allowed to watch anything graphic like that. And it makes me soooo sad to hear about suicide. People joke all the time like “KYS KYS” or “KMS KMS” but it’s not something to be joked about. To want to end your own life because it’s too miserable to live anymore — that is so heartbreaking and serious and something needs to be done. I agree that we need to recognize bullying and its effects on people. Great post, dearie!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I have to say, the sexual assault/rape part was very graphic. A bit too graphic if you ask me. I feel that for a show about teenagers, for teenagers, the show is too explicit and vivid in many ways. So probably not the best idea to watch it.
      We should definitely do something about bullying and suicide, thank you for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m nearly halfway through the series and there have definitely been moments that have made me sit up a little straighter. I think the idea of the butterfly effect is particularly poignant, if we let incidents slide then we’re opening the door to further cruelty down the line.

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  6. I started watching this last night with my boyfriend and thought after episode 1 maybe it wasn’t his type of thing but i was wrong, we binged watched another 3 episodes before it was past our bedtimes. Lucky its a long weekend so we can smash it out 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m very hesitant to watch the show because I did not like the book. I’ve also been seeing opposing views regarding the show’s representation of suicide… Honestly, I think the message of the book is really important, everything really does affect everything, but I guess what I don’t like is the fact that Hannah made those tapes and (I read this somewhere) basically “set off those thirteen on the same path”. I feel like there is a better way to deliver the message? And I don’t know how it was depicted in the show, but the book actually reinforced an idea I have that when I die, I’ll finally get my revenge on the people that hurt me. I realized later on that this is not a good message especially for people who are just one step closer to the edge.

    Lol sorry for the long comment (and we don’t even know each other haha). I’ve been searching for Thirteen Reasons Why posts to help me understand better the hype for this show.

    P.S. I do believe that this is such an important topic. My issue is just with the book itself. And as for recommendations, I can’t think of a book or a show at the moment, but the song “Are You Happy Now” by Megan & Liz is really good and really addresses the issue

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hmm yeah I can definitely see your point. In a way Hannah gets her “revenge”, if you can call it that. The 13 who are on the tape are definitely messed up because of them and some even became self-destructive / self-harming I believe. And I believe that that can definitely be harmful for watchers. I have mixed feelings towards the show for these reasons, and since I wrote this post I’ve been more aware of the negative sides of this series as well. Though, I still think that for the most part, the hype of this series brings forward many topics that have not been discussed openly before in mainstream series, which can really help people understand what’s going on at high schools and basically everywhere considering bullying, name-calling, etc.
      No worries about your long comment! I loved hearing your opinions 🙂 Thanks! And thank you for the recommendation, I will definitely look up the book!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I actually started watching the show right after writing that comment, and I think it’s much much better than the book. I now understand the hype better, and I think the message is delivered more clearly than in the book.

        Haha thanks! And that was a song, actually. I don’t think I’ve read a book about bullying that really left a mark on me. But that song definitely did.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m happy you enjoy it! Good luck watching!
        Yeah I realised just when I pressed reply, that I was supposed to type song but wrote book. I guess I write the word book so much my mind just assumes the word is book 😅

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thanks!! I’m still on episode 6 as of now. I’m too tired every day that I can only watch one episode per night. Haha

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      1. I didn’t read this comment before replying to the other one, haha so yeah… it’s a really great song 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Lia,
    Totally agree with all of this. I definitely think that the show is preaching some really good messages and depicts the downward spiral that mental health creates. As some one who has suffered too, it upsets me when those who haven’t had mental health issues can trivialize it. But yeah, really need to read myself the book!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes I think that’s great, that people get to see what goes on and that only a few mean words can lead to much worse things. Mental health is something that doesn’t get much attention in modern media and this is definitely a step in the right direction! I hope you enjoy the book!

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  9. It’s nice to see a show taking something as complex and challenging as mental health, suicide and sexual violence and making people who are oblivious see it for how it really is. Any discussions I’ve read about glorification I just don’t get, I thought the show did a superb job at pointing out the elephant, which sadly, is still in far too many rooms

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The absolute worst advice anyone can give the target of bullying is “stand up for yourself”! Bullies select targets who are less powerful and more isolated than themselves, therefore the target has very little chance of changing the bully’s mind. And that advice….that there is something wrong with what he or she is doing….only serves to push them closer to the edge. Bystanders are the key. Peer intervention is much more effective even than teacher intervention because peers are the bully’s audience of choice and backup. If they switch side, the bully loses his or her power.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s right! Standing up for yourself does not seem to solve any problems and only gives the victim the idea that it’s their fault!

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