Thirteen Reasons to Get rid of Netflix
by Sara Johnson
Teen suicide and revenge are the themes of the Netflix fictional show 13 Reasons Why. It is a hot mess of witchy teen drama; a vendetta to get even with bullies identified by Hannah Baker as being responsible for causing her to kill herself. Hannah never met the idea of self accountability in her short life and the adults in the film were short on the wisdom that adults use in dealing with the children who are suicidal and who are dealing with the loss of a suicided peer. Instead the film takes a dark turn to discover who made Hanna kill herself by their mean words and once, by alleged rape (which Hannah did not report to the police). There is no Christian confession, forgiveness and redemption in this teen story. There are only grudges and cruel revenge. This is a brew of Moral Relativity’s amorality and political correctness festering in children’s human fragility.
Hannah’s revenge quickly focuses on one counselor and 12 of her classmates as Hanna, from the grave, dedicates one side of a taped message to each person’s guilt which she claimed caused her to kill herself. Many of Hannah’s targets become hateful, self loathing and depressed in the process of their persecution. Hannah scores one self-loathing fictional student’s suicide. A troubled 14-year-old child in West Virginia, Anna Bright, committed suicide after binge-watching 13 Reasons Why. She modeled her death after Hannah Baker’s story.
This Netflix series was derived from a book by the same name. The book and the series has been popular in middle schools across the nation. Netflix has been under attack by the American Family Association who claimed the series was promoting suicide. Netflix came under stronger scrutiny when a report last April from Children’s Hospital in Columbus Ohio found suicides among children aged 10-17 spiked to a 19-year high in the month following the release of 13 Reasons Why. In addition Internet searches for suicide methods spiked following the release of the Netflix show. In response, Netflix removed the scene of Hannah’s death…yes, they actually had teens watching the girl cut her wrists and bleed out in the bathtub.
In reaction to the destructive nature of the Netflix series in promoting suicide among the vulnerable teens who watch it, schools have created 13 reasons not to commit suicide programs. At Oxford High School in Oxford, MI, for example, students launched the “13 Reason Why NOT” initiative. For 13 school days, a student shared over the loud speaker his or her most painful struggle that had some of them considering suicide. But in the end they thank those who gave hope and helped them get through their darkest moments. In addition the program provides students with resources to use if they are feeling suicidal. In Concord, New Hampshire the community gathered to discuss the series with teens many of whom thought the series was too unrealistic as it only focused on the negativity of students and school staff and ignored anything positive.
Suicide should be discussed in a moral framework where right and wrong are clear and children’s normal imperfections are understood and forgiven by the children and adults involved. Hannah Baker, a child with mental problems sufficient to result in suicide, was the accuser, judge and jury above her peers. The story does not take into account what Hanna did to provoke the reactions she got from her peers and does not offer any other side to the story she tells. The far Left’s usual boogie men make up most of the guilty – athletes and cheerleaders and the pretty and popular children. In leftist social ideology surrounding bullying, there is no such thing as a nerd bully. But Hannah Baker, the nerd, was the most hurtful and mean of them all in a tantrum of hatred and revenge she took out on her family, her classmates and their families. In Hannah’s suicide no one killed Hannah but Hannah.
This is another cultural episode that gives warning to parents to be watchful over their children’s entertainment and education. Parents are the central educators of their own children especially in areas of mental, spiritual and moral consequence. For good reason, most parents know not to blindly trust entertainment designed for their children.