The superintendent of the Wethersfield school district sent a note home to all parents yesterday regarding the Netflix show 13 Reasons Why. He is not the first superintendent to do this. Throughout the country, schools are warning parents that children should not watch this show or, at least, not watch alone.
Having seen all of it, I agree with the superintendent that no teen should see this show alone. It should be watched with parents to help talk through the issues and maybe have a dialogue about what really goes on in those high school halls. There are great lessons to be had about bullying, treatment of women and depression in general.
The problem I have with the superintendent’s letter is that it just makes kids want to watch these shows more. When in the history of letters, parental advisory stickers, movie ratings and the like, has this EVER worked?! Time and time again these types of warnings just make these pop culture events more interesting.
In 1989, 2 Live Crew released “As Nasty As They Wanna Be”. As an eighth grader, I was not into hip hop at all. I was into “Batdance”, “She Drives Me Crazy” and most of that terrible Milli Vanilli album. But, thanks to the outcry and the warnings, this 2 Live Crew album became something I HAD to listen too. There was so much buzz and hype about how “dangerous” and “dirty” this album was. Was there really a song called “The F—k Shop”? I had to know!
In hindsight, this is an absolutely horrible album and I really should have put my energy into listening to EPMD and De La Soul but all that danger made 2 Live Crew the best album ever.
The best course of action, and I’m guessing the school lawyers think differently, is to ignore this stuff. Like everything else in our culture, no one will care about this in four weeks. Pretend it doesn’t exist and just worry about making sure your school is a safe environment with open door policies to discuss any issues.
I do wish the letter mentioned the variety of awesome songs in the show because really how many teens are listening to Joy Division?