Friday, May 12, 2017

More 13 Reasons Why | Lefsetz Letter

I finished the tapes. Now it’s your turn.

I can’t believe I dedicated 13 hours to a TV show. Sure, my mother was always telling us to turn off the damn box, to go outside and play, it was literally illegal to watch during the day, hell, she placed the damn set where there was an insane glare anyway, but by time I went to college I gave up television, and it stayed that way for fifteen years, you see it was a vast wasteland, a low-level time-suck, one wherein the producers didn’t respect the viewers and there was all this feel-good fakeness to the point it’d make you puke.

Then came “thirtysomething.”

Well, first came David Letterman. At 12:35 AM, before he was wearing a suit, when wrestler shoes adorned his feet, when anything went. Suddenly, we had a voice on television. Of course, we had a voice at the end of the seventies, on Saturday night, but once the original cast of SNL left it was never the same. Dan Aykroyd may have not soared on the big screen, but not a single man or woman plying the Studio 8H boards was as good as him thereafter, he not only acted in the sketches, he WROTE THEM!

And then came “The Sopranos” and it was all over, the music era ended and the television era began. Because there was more truth in these dramas (and comedies!) than you could find in any LP. The shows tested the limits, became part of the national discussion in a way no record ever did. There’s a universality in television, music has become niche.

To the point where I dedicated half a day to watch a screen take of a young adult book. That’s what blows my mind about the backlash, the book’s been hiding in plain sight for years, where were the parents then?

It was different in our era. Our parents were not our best friends. They had no idea what we were up to and the truth is today’s parents have got no idea what their kids are up to either, even though they think they do. It’s the human condition, a point in this series, does anybody really know what time it is, can anybody ever see another person’s identity, their hopes, feelings and desires, clearly?

Hannah wants Clay but she pushes him away.

If this doesn’t resonate with you, you’re probably one of the jocks, one of the popular people, the ones who hate the most according to this show. It’s good to have a wingman, like Jeff, but relationships are a risk you take on your own, and I’m not sure we ever figure them out, even when we’re aged and experienced. What’s the right thing to say? Do you ask again when you’ve been blown off? To watch Clay be tortured is to identify with the hell that is adolescence.

And the hell that is high school.

They got that right.

I know people say it was the best days of their lives, but why is it always those who were popular who never did anything thereafter? The rest of us, with zits, with issues, who were striving for distant destinations, i.e. good colleges, endured high school, and endured the abuse.

The only difference was our parents did not march down to the principal’s office to complain, we had to fight it out on our own. And I’m not gonna sit here and say that’s better, but I am gonna wonder if you can ever sanitize the cauldron that is high school. Hell, if your kids ever told you what was going on you’d lock the door and home school them.

And doing the right thing. That’s another big theme of this show. You watch the characters fail and you realize you’ve failed yourself, and you’re haunted by your mistakes, your inability to step up and do the right thing, even though it’s decades later, you think about going back and making amends, but unless you’re a friend of Bill W., you never do.

That’s right, life is full of regrets. And excuses. On one hand I admire those who manage to soldier on, but like in “Apocalypse Now” the horror sticks with me.

And no one is innocent. And no one is above the law. And we’re all in this together. Except we want to believe that we’re not.

Adulthood is about separating yourself from the pack, insulating yourself from hatred, but then you see their name, their picture, and it’s all brought back to you. It’s one of the reasons why I’m not on Facebook, why in hell would I want to connect with all these people I once knew, no way.

So this is the way it is in modern society. Television rules and music comes thereafter, if at all. Hell, Lord Huron’s “The Night We Met” has 38 million plays on Spotify (but only 8 million on YouTube, is the video service really the problem, I think not, I believe it’s going to fade away to de minimis stature all by itself). Even more rewarding is Roman Remains’ remake of Echo & the Bunnymen’s “The Killing Moon,” you can’t watch these shows without Shazam, you wanna know what numbers these are, that fit so perfectly in with the story, the mood.

And the juggernaut is just beginning. The buzz will not die. Hell, I didn’t watch the original “House of Cards” until six months after its release. And for all those parents and mental health professionals pontificating on the show’s impact, I wish you’d watch it first, why is everybody rendering an opinion without experience, then again art’s been the enemy for all time, remember Tipper Gore’s PMRC? Like lyrics are gonna ruin kids.

No kid is gonna watch “13 Reasons Why” and be surprised, this is the life they live.

It’s only the rest of us, with school deep in the rearview mirror who will be shocked, that it’s still the same, growing up is so difficult, you don’t fit in, you don’t know who to turn to, you think about ending it…


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