Selena Gomez is defending “13 Reasons Why” amid the controversy surrounding the teen drama, responding to critics who say that the Netflix show glamorizes teen suicide. The former Disney star worked as executive producer of the series that was based on the novel by Jay Asher.
“13 Reasons Why” tells the story of teenage girl Hannah Baker, played by Katherine Langford, who ends her life but leaves 13 tapes behind. Meant for her classmates, each tape showed one reason why Hannah decided to commit suicide. Aside from featuring Hannah’s suicide, “13 Reasons Why” also showed scenes of substance abuse, including drugs and alcohol, as well as rape, sexual assault, and body shaming.
Appearing at the WE Day event in Los Angeles, Selena Gomez opened up about the mixed responses being raked in by “13 Reasons Why.” "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,” the 24-year-old singer explained to the Associated Press.
According to Gomez, she and her team sought to bring justice to the story. although it remains an uneasy issue to discuss, she said she is more than lucky to have worked on a widely received series.
Selena Gomez’s comments came after New Zealand issued a rating that restricts its citizens under 18 years old from watching “13 Reasons Why” on their own. According to the country’s deputy chief censor Jared Mullen, parents should step up in using their judgment about their child’s preparedness to watch the series. These adults should also be present when watching the show with their teens.
“The series raises a lot of issues but often fails to fully address them, and it's really important that trusted adults can step in at that point,” Mullen said, while adding: “These issues need to be talked about in a way that is informed and safe – parents, guardians and other adults need to have open conversations with teens about the issues raised by the show."
In addition, a Canadian school has completely banned “13 Reasons Why,” even mere discussions about it, due to concerns that the Netflix hit could glamorize suicide. A mental health charity of Australia also issued a warning that “13 Reasons Why” features “dangerous content.” As for “Stranger Things” actress Shannon Purser, who plays Barb on the hit sci-fi thriller series, “13 Reasons Why” is not appropriate for certain viewers who are at greater risk for mental health issues.
Paris Jackson already took to social media to share her sentiments about being fearful over the series acting as a triggering factor for vulnerable audiences.
Previously admitting to Rolling Stone magazine that she attempted to commit suicide “multiple times” in the past, the 20-year-old daughter of late pop legend Michael Jackson described “13 Reasons Why” to be an “extremely triggering thing to watch.” She also asked that the series should be watched with caution and that people who are going through their personal struggles should avoid the series.
Still, Paris described the teen drama as a fantastic means of putting an important message across bullies, emphasizing the need to stop their hurtful actions. “It really did a good job of showing how impactful words and actions can be to other human beings,” she said. “You can't just do or say things to people without thinking about how it will affect them…"
Meanwhile, “13 Reasons Why” season 2 has not yet been confirmed by the network, but the deals are reportedly set to be signed soon. Plot details about the second installment have also been emerging with which Hannah Baker will reportedly play a crucial role in the next installment, once more.