I intentionally delayed my “guilt-trip” to write something on what I read, listened and watched about Jay Asher’s THIRTEEN REASONS WHY because it’s my choice. Yes, a choice – just like Hanna’s choice, your choice, or just anyone’s choice, because we all have this freedom. Though, the novel or the hard-hitting tv series via Netflix is a work of fiction, yet it gains controversy because it deals with varied topics most of us rather won’t talk about.
I don’t know where to start. . . Just like creating thirteen recordings on cassette tapes is not an easy task. In the advent of the digital world, maybe some of us, most notably the millenials may not even know how to use cassette tapes. But on my part, my very first job after college revolves on tapes. From the news room, I recorded aired news from radio and tv, and transcribed the same – all in my 8-hour shift. What happened to those transcribed news scripts were sole resposibilities of the news editor and the news anchors who would afterwards deliver the news on air.
I remember during the early ‘80s, aside from the snail mail, the use of the cassette tapes was very useful to those working abroad, particularly those in the Middle East. It was a medium via voice recordings as a means of an exchange communication between a nanay or tatay working abroad and their families here in the Philippines.
What compels me to write something about Thirteen Reasons Why, is because even at the most holy of all weeks, I can almost hear Hannah’s voice, recorded on seven cassette tapes the night before her suicide. Hanna’s recordings are different. She elaborately planned it, even distributes individual starred maps to her listeners, which they’re supposed to follow as they listen to her recordings. She isn’t using the tapes for self-reflection, to try to figure out how she can gain power over her surroundings. Instead, she’s trying to put her listeners in her shoes – to show them how it feels to be on a list, how it feels to be accused of things and have rumors spread about them, and further confirms her belief that her problems are unsolvable.
No matter how calculating she was about her plan, it’s very clear from these tapes that Hannah isn’t thinking straight. For example, Hannah reveals the names of some alleged criminals (Jenny Kurtz) but not others (Bryce Walker), regardless of how bad each person was to her. She also threatens to publicly release the tapes if her listeners don’t do what she asks. But the last person on her list is Mr. Porter, who will almost certainly have to turn the tapes over to officials anyway. These tapes were definitely a plan made in desperation and we can hear it both through the anger and the confusion in Hannah’s words.
That’s what these tapes are all about. It’s through her recordings, and Clay Jensen’s reactions to them, that we get to know Hannah. We hear Hannah’s description of her life at her most desperate and disturbed, which makes it easy to forget that she wasn’t always this way.
To be more honest, it’s a challenge on my part to remain objective about the characters being accused of serious illegal activity, particularly Bryce, Tyler, Justin, and Jenny whose side of the story I haven’t heard, while still trusting the voice of Hannah..#
1. the tapes
(To be continued)