There is a hot topic going around that I can’t get away from. After several weeks of being forced to talk about this with various people, I thought I would stop and put all my thoughts on a page.
I, and my kids, have been hearing rants and raves about the Netflix series of 13 Reasons Why. In the beginning I simply read trusted Catholic blogs, such as Lifeteen.com, and shared them on my Facebook. From a distance, it looked as if this was a dangerous show for teenagers to watch. Because this subject wouldn’t die among my kid’s peers, I decided to watch the show myself. I figured #1 I was old and mature enough to handle a teenage show in spite of whatever sins they wanted to pollute my mind with and #2 It is difficult to be taken seriously when I haven’t seen the show at all. There are some movies/shows that don’t need your full attention to know they are bad (50 Shades of Gray), but where there is a gray area (no pun intended there), sometimes we have to go the extra mile. So, I watched most of the show....
My kids were having a hard time defending the position that this was a dangerous show to watch because they hadn’t seen it themselves. I also learned that there were parents who did not know their child was watching the series or did not know the content. So here I am!!
I am going to be graphic so if you are under 18, don’t read this unless your mom or dad reads it first! I need to be graphic because I am learning the hard way that there are still good parents out there that believe a little bit of pornography is ok under certain circumstances. (btw...this isn't a "litte bit" of porn). Sigh….. So, if you are that parent, the graphics are especially for you so you can determine whether it qualifies as something you would let your child see. Over here, it is a no. Pornography is a BIG NO even if (fill in the blank).
Here is what you will see if you watch 13 Reasons Why. Take notes….
* Masturbation scene. I went my ENTIRE life not seeing a masturbation scene until last year when I saw about 4 of them in various movies. Guess this is something new that is considered “acceptable”
* 2 girls making out (which is what instigated the masturbation scene as a 17 year old boy was looking at a picture of this). One of the girls was struggling with lesbian thoughts and the other girl was just going along because they were having fun getting drunk.
* Full blown sex scene between 2 seventeen year olds.(disclaimer: this is graphic) Both were completely naked and he is clearly humping her repeatedly. I thought sex between kids was considered child porn? Am I just old school or something? They were juniors in HS. This is porn guys.
* A detailed rape scene. (graphic) A girl is in a hot tub with the boy. He approaches her and makes a move which she refuses. She tries to escape by turning around to climb out. He uses that opportunity to hold her in that position while he takes off the bottom of her bathing suit with one hand and holding her down by the neck with the other hand. He enters and humps her maybe 20 times or so while the girl narrates her feelings. You watch her go from fighting to giving up. Yeah....
* Another rape scene (graphic). A boy takes advantage of a drunk girl at a party while an observer hides in the closet. You see him take off her underwear and he takes off her underpants. He humps away, holding down her hands while she whimpers and cries. After this terrible scene is over, it is replayed in the mind of the victim and the observer repeatedly so you get to see this over and over again.
* The star of the show takes a picture of a naked boy through his window and posts it to all the kids at his HS in response to what he did to hurt the girl who had committed suicide. This was portrayed as a GOOD response. So, if you think this show sends a message that you shouldn't bully someone, think again. It actually shows that bullying someone 100x worse is a heroic response.
* Hollywood used another opportunity AGAIN to push their gay agenda by saying this girl with 2 dads had "the perfect family"
* A sexual encounter between the 2 stars was made to look appetizing because they both cared about each other.
* God's name repeatedly used in vain
Those are the facts.
Here are my opinions…..
One of the criticisms I had read was about how graphic the suicide was. I actually see that as a pro. Yes it was graphic but it SHOULD be! Life is a BIG DEAL! I’m of the opinion that those on death row shouldn’t die quietly with a few witnesses. Even though I’m against capital punishment, I think that if you are going to do it, do it in a public street for all to see. That is a LIFE. That is a human being made in the image and likeness of God. We need to see a life lost when it is lost.
This show glorifies suicide and this is why. The girl who took her own life, Hannah, had recorded 13 reasons why she had taken her own life. She blamed each of her friends and acquaintances for something they did to hurt her. She got the ultimate revenge instantly – forcing them all to live with the guilt that their mistake killed a girl. This payback for what all these people had done to her easily looked like it was well deserved and everyone learned a valuable lesson BECAUSE she killed herself. Nowhere in the show did it show that she had hope. WE know that she had hope but the show only portrayed her downward spiral into a pit of depression to where there was no escape. I have no doubt that suicides will be on the rise if it hasn’t already since this show came out.
This show gives no weight to mental illness. MANY people suffer the type of bullying this girl endured without committing suicide. The entire blame for her life was all put on a group of kids that were already struggling through the tortures of adolescence. It is ironic that I am making this point because I am known for complaining that no weight is ever put on circumstances and bad choices and unhealthy relationships that lead to depression. Everyone always wants medication to solve depression and don’t realize that if they stop rebelling from their Father in Heaven and start making better choices, that might be the medication a person really needs. But the tides have turned and here I am on the other end of the spectrum.
Is there a good message through all of this sin? If you dig hard enough, maybe. The one “pro” I can put my finger on is this…..Every encounter with another human being has an impact. We can't think that every bad joke, every rumor, gossip, or bad prank is no big deal because you were "just kidding".
We are at war. We are at war with the lies society give us. We are at war with Satan, who slithers in our lives like a thief in the night. He plays around in our minds like a kid on a playground by simply taking something good and holy and throwing in his lies. The devil doesn’t have his own clay. He can’t create anything. All he can do is take something good and twist it into something sinful. I want to normalize purity!! Don’t we all want to normalize purity with our kids? Wouldn’t spiritual reading and saint movies be more inspiring to our vulnerable teens than bombarding them with sadness and pornography from Hollywood?
“But Katy, suicide is a real thing” Yeah…..my kids still can’t watch porn
“You can have good and productive talks with your kids.” I don't need Hollywood's help with this
“You can’t shelter your kids from everything” They still can’t watch people having sex…..or masturbations scenes, or rape scenes.
Try as you might, my kids can’t watch porn, sex, masturbation or rape scenes, even if _______________.
I am positive that there is a better way to send your child a message on how we are to treat one another without filling their minds with disordered sexual content. You do not need this show to have productive talks with your child about these issues. You don’t need Hollywood at all. I had productive talks with my kids about sex, masturbation, rape, homosexual lifestyle, etc. long before this show came out. God will provide. HE will provide these opportunities for productive talks, not Hollywood. Finding the good-ish message in this show is like buying Playboy for the good articles or supporting Planned Parenthood for......something good they might do. I can't think of anything good they do so maybe that's a bad analogy. Maybe they give free mints at the front desk.
Let’s ask ourselves, what is the BEST answer to getting people to truly empathize with the struggles teenagers are going through. The endorsers of this TV show have said that we need to open our eyes and not shelter ourselves to their reality. We need to watch and see real bullying. We need to share in their pain by watching their experiences and talking about what each person could have done different.
Let me share with you an alternative. Imagine a family suffering the death of a child (for whatever reason – accident, suicide, cancer….). Who are these people coming out of the woodwork to console the family? Who are these people that come over every day to check up on mom and dad, help them with chores, keep them company, cry with them, etc.? Are these people those that “observed” other parents who lost a child? Did all of these people lose a child themselves?
I’ll tell you who these people are. They are people that have kids of their own and who have experienced that DEEP love for a child that no one else can truly understand. Childless couples are left to only imagine and desire to experience this kind of love. It is powerful and deep. To lose this is an unimaginable pain that I can’t begin to ever understand unless it happens to me. But, BECAUSE I have this unique love for my own children, THEN I am in the position of offering unconditional love and support for another parent that has lost a child.
So, your answer to how to treat other people does not lie in watching their pain. It lies in loving every human being as a unique and unrepeatable child of God. Every teenager, every stranger, every rapist, every thief – everyone, is God’s baby. If our goal can be to see people in this manner – always being imperfect just as it will always be imperfect for a childless couple to understand the heart a parent has for a child – than THAT is when we can be the very BEST brother& sister to our neighbors at school, work, grocery store, etc. THIS is how we can be considerate and kind NATURALLY. Our actions will be out of love and not out of fear of a person's hurt feelings.
Turn off the TV. Let us challenge ourselves and learn how to love each other instead.