Being a born and bred Australian I like to try and keep up on all the goss and dramas that are going on back home. One ongoing story that has captured the hearts of my nation is that of the plight of Schapelle Corby. The infamous, one and only - Schapelle Corby…
I reckon I’d be pretty confident that every Australian has heard her story before and I would probably go as far to say that most Kiwis would’ve at least had some exposure to her journey. Ask any Australian whether they think she did it or not and sure enough they’d have an opinion. “Yeah mate, what a silly gallah. Deadset she fair dinkum did it.”
In a single moment everything changed for Corby. Whether she had decided to do it or someone else made that fateful decision for her, it affected her very life. What she knew before no longer could remain the same. Years lost but at least she is free now. Alas we can rest easy as all is schapelle with her soul.
Part of the extensive media coverage has involved TV reporters strapping themselves to the back of Utes in harnesses. It’s incredible the lengths that people go to in order to secure a good angle or story. Some of the information we’ve seen has shown the family finally partying it up with first class flights, expensive drinks, all in gatherings etc. you name it they are doing. I guess if I had been locked up for such a long amount of time I too would be partying it up. (Rumour this song has been her official soundtrack since returning - (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAFSFmnxxBc)
You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this but throughout the coverage it’s reminded me of the party that goes on in Heaven when we decide to follow Jesus. When the Corby family is rejoicing in style it parallels the party that our Father and family have in heaven celebrate when we come home. It’s a grand party at that.
Check out Luke 14:15-24. It’s a parable (simple story with a greater metaphorical/moral underlying meaning) that illustrates how we are all invited to the party.
Let’s address the 13 Reasons Why buzz. There is a lot of controversy around this Netflix mini series: some think it’s the most important new show for people to watch on youth culture, others think it is the most dangerous. Both views are very wise and grounded in reality. So should we watch it?
If you haven’t heard of the show, 13 Reasons Why is a about a teenage girl who commits suicide leaving 13 recorded tapes offering reasons why she chose to take her own life. Viewers follow a character named Clay who listens to one tape each episode as we see the story unfold. I will be honest; it was the premise of the show that caught my attention. But as I continued watching I quickly realized this show was one of the most accurate representations of high school culture without the television filters. It doesn’t shy away from the language or conversations teenagers would have. And it doesn’t tiptoe around addressing serious issues teenagers face, often portraying them in uncompromising and realistic fashion. So yeah, it probably is one of the most accurate shows on relevant teen culture, but its not a show everyone should or needs to watch.
So should we consider watching this show? Well if you are a parent or a youth leader, you should consider it simply because your young people are watching it. This show deals with a number of topics including depression, anxiety, suicide, grief, bullying, sexual assault, and misogyny culture. It’s eye opening, relentless, and a very realistic in its representation. Teens are watching this show relating to the topics while also empathizing with its characters. If you are a teen and considering watching this show, please do so with hesitation. The show has a powerful message and ending offering how individuals can make a difference if they pay attention to those hurting in the world around them. But it doesn’t offer much after that: no helpful and professional resources of counseling or lines to help those struggling with trauma, depression, or suicide. In that sense, the show’s conversation is incomplete. I would say if you are a teenager and are going to watch the show, come along side someone older to talk about some of the topics afterwards. This can be a parent, family member, youth leader or mentor. But don’t leave the conversation when the show is over, come out with intent to debrief and carry the discussion.
Should we reconsider watching this show? Absolutely. Like I said, it is a very real representation of high school culture. This includes how the show engages with language and sex. It holds a TV-MA rating in the U.S. So even though the show is geared toward a younger audience, it rating suggests it’s not suitable for audience under the age of 17. It also doesn’t just address the topics of rape, sexual assault, and suicide; it shows them in graphic detail. Certain episodes start with a viewer discretion warning, IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO TAKE THOSE WARNINGS SIRIOUSLY. If you are like me you grew up seeing those warnings on aired television, it simply meant this show was going beyond its PG rating allowance. But take a moment to consider the fact that Netflix, a network not aired on public TV and with no filter in its mature content, is giving these warning. The “Viewer discretion” should be understood as a trigger warning, please don’t take these warnings lightly. And if you are someone who struggles with depression, trauma, sexual assault, or have been affected by suicide in any way, I would advise to stay far away from this show.
The one thing we can’t do is ignore the fact that this show exists. As soon as it was released and gained a high viewership it became part of today’s youth culture. Lets be wise in how we chose to discuss, engage, and not engage with Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why.