ByS.C. O'Donnell, writer at
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S.C. O'Donnell

Netflix’s series 13 Reasons Why premiered on March 31, 2017, and has been met with a combination of praise and controversy. The show revolves around the suicide of Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford), and the complicated events leading up to this tragic conclusion. The show’s premise has drawn heat from concerned parents, who claim that the show – among other things – romanticizes teen suicide.

In the wake of the outcry, The National Association of School Psychologists issued a warning to parents, siting that the program is not suitable for at-risk youth:

"We do not recommend that vulnerable youth, especially those who have any degree of suicidal ideation, watch this series.Its powerful storytelling may lead impressionable viewers to romanticize the choices made by the characters and/or develop revenge fantasies."

13 Reasons Why was produced by Selena Gomez, who has stood by the series amidst the controversy. In recent interviews, Selena Gomez shared her opinion on the controversy, and gave us all something to think about.

Selena Gomez Comments On 13 Reasons Why Backlash

Selena Gomez produced 13 Reasons Why for Netflix because of her strong connection to the book. While speaking to E! News, Gomez expressed why she took on the project, and the reasons behind the show's graphic nature:

"I just wanted it to come across in a way that kids would be frightened, but confused — in a way that they would talk about it because it’s something that’s happening all the time."

The imagery and powerful message that 13 Reasons Why contains has frightened and confused audiences, as Selena Gomez hoped it would — but it seems it missed the intended target. The series was meant to be a cautionary tale of bullying and the effect it can have on teens; however, it seems to have angered adults instead.

Selena Gomez recently spoke with the Associated Press, and finally broke her silence on the controversy:

“We stayed very true to the book and that’s initially what Jay Asher created was a beautifully tragic, complicated yet suspenseful story and I think that’s what we wanted to do. We wanted to do it justice and, yeah, [the backlash is] gonna come no matter what. It’s not an easy subject to talk about, but I’m very fortunate with how it’s doing.”

The Importance Of Selena Gomez's Response To The Backlash

13 Reasons Why [Credit: Netflix]
13 Reasons Why [Credit: Netflix]

hit the nail right on the head, and seems to understand what the most important factor in the series’ success. Whether people think the show romanticizes suicide, or it’s content is too graphic, it doesn’t really matter; what matters is that people are talking about it.

Mental health awareness & the impacts of bullying are an extremely important issues, and people are finally talking about it in a public forum. They might not understand the intricacies of emotional and mental health, but just by talking about it, they are taking a step in the right direction. There has been a stigma around mental health treatment for decades, and we have only recently begun to accept it as "socially acceptable."

Want to read more about 13 Reasons Why? Check out:

Selena Gomez is correct when she said that the issues portrayed on 13 Reasons Why are not easy to talk about, but thanks to the series (and the controversy), it is a topic discussed daily. Suicide, bullying, and rape are terrible things, but that doesn’t mean they don’t happen. The more we recognize them as a society, the better we become equipped to combat them.

13 Reasons Why carries a mature rating for a good reason, and parents should always be aware of what their children are watching. There will always be films and TV series that contain graphic content, but that doesn’t mean they should be ignored, especially if they carry important messages. Selena Gomez is proud of the series she helped bring to life, and it has increased the public awareness of very important issues.

You can watch 13 Reasons Why Season 1 streaming on Netflix now.

Sound off! What do you think of Selena Gomez’s comments? Let your voice be heard in the comments section below.

(Sources: Associated Press; E! News; The National Association of School Psychologists)


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