13 Months After 13 Reasons Why

Warning for discussions of sensitive material ahead, including suicide and rape.

(You see, Netflix? That’s what you’re supposed to do. Put a trigger warning beforehand.)

Hey, it’s Catherine. Catherine, the Red Lady. That’s right. Don’t adjust your…whatever device you’re reading this on. It’s me, live on the internet. No return engagements, no encore. And this time, absolutely no requests. Get a snack. Settle in. ‘Cause I’m about to tell you why 13 Reasons Why is garbage.

I read 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher in high school. I knew going in that it was about a girl who commits suicide and then leaves behind a series of cassette tapes (what is this, 1994?) narrating why she killed herself, and why her classmates are to blame.

I wasn’t greatly affected by the book because a), I already knew what was coming, and b) I wasn’t suicidal in high school. Depressed, yes, suicidal, no. I didn’t really think much of the book to be totally honest. It was about Stephanie Meyer level prose. Just milquetoast teen melodrama.

Then about a year and a half ago I learned that that book I read in high school was getting its own Netflix series. And I remember thinking to myself, this could potentially be very bad. Suicide is a touchy subject for most people. That’s not to say there should be a taboo on the subject. I think a certain amount of healthy discussion can actually help prevent suicide. It’s all in how you handle it. The important thing is to show suicidal people the consequences of committing such an act, without glorifying suicide or shaming those who might be contemplating it–as if suicidal people don’t have enough to feel bad about. It can be a tenuous feat, which is why most people don’t even touch it. Between glorification and victim shaming, I’m sad to say that 13 Reasons Why succeeds in doing both.

It’s been roughly 13 months since the first season debuted on Netflix, so I think now is a fitting time to discuss it, especially since a second season is in the making why??? Why would they do this?????.

Everyone’s hot take on 13RW is that it’s suicide glorification…which is true. Hannah Baker leaves a suicide note behind for the express purpose of inflicting guilt on everyone she felt had wronged her. Suicide isn’t about other people. Suicides are singular events. People kill themselves because they truly feel they have nothing to live for. They aren’t thinking about revenge or how sad everyone will be about their deaths as they do the deed. They’re just thinking about how everything will finally stop, and maybe there will finally be peace.

Even though it’s mostly Hannah’s point of view guiding the audience through the flashbacks, it’s a boy named Clay who is the narrator. He was in love with Hannah, and only sees her as this guileless cinnamon roll who was too good, too pure for this world™️. Since the two main points of views come from the victim herself and the guy who was blindingly in love with her, of course Hannah’s death is going to feel romanticized.

But at the same time, 13RW also manages to shame suicidal people as well. It paints suicide victims as pathetic and vengeful, as people just seeking attention. Hannah’s tapes torture the people she talks about on them, and then she ensured those tapes were distributed. Not to her parents, who might be horrified to learn of what their daughter went through in that last year but at least they could make sense of this horrendous tragedy and not wonder forever if it was their fault…but to the people Hannah deemed responsible for her death. The backstabbing friends, the slut-shamers, the rapist, and the dismissive counselor. And also Clay; for some reason Hannah decided to torture him for 10 tapes or so before finally revealing that he wasn’t to blame because he was actually really nice to her. And then there’s the contingency that if the tapes are properly listened to and shared, an ally of Hannah’s was going to make sure the tapes went public. It was very clear that this girl was seeking revenge, not peace.

…oh yeah, and all the obvious ones, like the graphic rape scenes and Hannah slitting her wrists onscreen (in the book, she just takes pills, but I guess that doesn’t have any shock value), but everyone else has already covered that.

Look, I appreciate what Selena Gomez and the creators of this show were trying to do. Suicide and depression are serious topics, especially for teenagers, so they made a show specifically targeted at teens to dissuade them from killing themselves. But like the book, this series didn’t have anything poignant to say on the subject. It was essentially thirteen hours of angst and violence porn that only caused an upsurge in teen suicide rates. I haven’t heard of anyone who was comforted by watching the show–only traumatized or further depressed by it. I don’t know that there’s a positive way to portray suicide…but this definitely isn’t it.

And I beg of you, if you are contemplating suicide, consider this your sign not to. Talk to someone. If there’s not a counselor or someone close to you you can open to, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (America): 1-800-273-8255. Or if you’re not American, go look up the hotline for your own country. Because speaking as someone who has been depressed for years and feels as though surviving each day is an uphill battle, believe me when I say: there is always something worth living for. ~TRL

(PS, I wasn’t serious about that “no return engagements” thing, that was just a joke. I’m still going to make posts on here. That is, if I’m still able to if and after Congress repeals net neutrality.)

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More Like The…GAY Gatsby

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Two bros, sittin’ in a yellow car, five feet apart ’cause they’re not gay!

Pretty much every American high school graduate has read The Great Gatsby…or least seen the film adaptation starring Leo DiCaprio. It’s a really short novel, only nine chapters, and it’s one of my favorite books ever. Mainly because…it’s really gay.

Damn, Catie, at it again with the seeing gay subtext everywhere. How could a novel written in 1925 focusing on a heterosexual romance possibly be gay, you ask me as you roll your eyes in disdain. Well, my close-minded friend, as a queer writer who has aced nearly every English class she’s ever taken, let me educate you.

First of all, the author, F. Scott Fitzgerald, may or may not have been queer himself. His close writer friends were Gertrude Stein, a raging lesbian, and Ernest Hemingway, who several historians suggest might have been bisexual, and also F. Scott allegedly once showed his penis to him? Also his wife suspected they might be having an affair, but then again, she was mentally ill, so it might have just been paranoia.

I’m not claiming that any of this is solid proof that F. Scott was less than heterosexual, but he did have at least one queer friend, and queer people do tend to flock together. Plus F. Scott was notably prim in his appearance and femininely beautiful, and was admittedly the “woman” in his marriage to Zelda Fitzgerald–not that straight men can’t also dress impeccably and have soft features and be submissive to their female partners. But you know, if it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, and hangs out with other ducks…there’s a good chance it’s a duck.

Also, it’s worth mentioning that Truman Capote wanted to adapt the novel into a movie—in Capote’s version, Nick Carraway, the main character, was supposed to be homosexual and Jordan Baker was a lesbian. For some reason, his screenplay was canned.

But now, onto the book itself. First of all, I propose that Nick Carraway, even though he did have a girlfriend briefly, is gay and infatuated with Gatsby. On the very second page of the book, Carraway describes Gatsby as gorgeous (although he’s actually applying that to his spirit rather than his actual physical appearance, but it still counts in my book). Then at the end of the second chapter of the book, a photographer named Mr. McKee invites a somewhat drunk Carraway out for lunch sometime and takes him back to his apartment to look at some photos he’d taken. And for some reason, it’s in McKee’s bedroom, while McKee is sitting in bed in his underwear.

“…I was standing beside his bed and he was sitting up between the sheets, clad in his underwear, with a great portfolio in his hands.”

I’m not saying they hooked up…but they hooked up.

When Carraway finally meets Gatsby face to face, Gatsby invites him out for a ride in his hydroplane. Jordan Baker then asks Carraway if he’s “having a gay time now”. That is actually the words she uses. And Nick replies, “Much better.” I know she means gay as in “fun”, but it’s still sniggle-worthy.

Then, when Carraway finally realizes that he’s actually talking to Gatsby, this is how he chooses to describe him:

“He smiled understandingly–much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced–or seemed to face–the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.”

TL;DR, Gatsby’s smile makes Carraway feel like the only girl in the world.

After that, Carraway immediately starts grilling Jordan for details about Gatsby, like a twitterpated teenager trying to get the lowdown on their crush. It’s adorable.

When the party is winding down for the evening, Gatsby and Carraway say goodbye to each other like, six times. No, you hang up. No, you hang up! No, you! You!

In the following weeks, Gatsby takes Carraway out on dates outings and seems really eager for Carraway to like him. “Look here, old sport,” he asks him one day, “what’s your opinion of me, anyway?” Then he shows off his medals of honor he earned in the army. What sucks is that in truth, Gatsby is really trying to get in Carraway’s good graces because he’s trying to use him as an in with Daisy Buchanan, Carraway’s cousin and Gatsby’s old flame. But if you think about it, does Gatsby really need Carraway to win Daisy back? He’s already conspiring with Jordan, who is Daisy’s bestie. He doesn’t really need Carraway to have an excuse to see her again. I think he just really likes hanging out with Nick, to be totally honest.

Also, a funny thing happens later on: Gatsby invites Carraway out for lunch and Carraway meets Gatsby’s business associate, Meyer Wolfsheim. Gatsby leaves momentarily and Wolfsheim says to Carraway that when he first met Gatsby, he “said to [himself]: ‘There’s the kind of man you’d like to take home and introduce to your mother and your sister.'”

Are you trying to set them up together or something, Wolfie?

One day, while Nick is wandering around Gatsby’s mansion, he spots of a photo of a man who Gatsby says is Dan Cody, an older man who was once his “best friend”. Later on, it’s revealed that Dan Cody met Gatsby and was impressed by him, so he took him under his wing and brought along on a sailing expedition, grooming him in the ways of the upper class and buying him a fancy wardrobe. He even left Gatsby twenty five grand when he died (although Cody’s mistress ended up usurping it from him).

That’s right–Jay Gatsby had a sugar daddy.

Anyway, blah blah blah, stuff happens, kiss kiss, bang bang. Then comes the last time Carraway sees Gatsby alive. He’s reluctant to leave him alone because Gatsby’s heartbroken about Daisy, but he has to go to work. But before he leaves, Carraway calls to him, “They’re a rotten crowd–you’re worth the whole damn bunch put together.”

See, because that’s the thing about Carraway: he idealizes Gatsby in the same way that Gatsby idealizes Daisy. Gatsby disowned his parents because he was ashamed of them because they were poor, ran an illegal alcohol business, and tried to seduce a married woman–and he was willing to manipulate Nick to do it. But Carraway never cared about any of that. Until the very bitter end, Carraway still believed in Gatsby and adored him. And when Gatsby was killed, Nick was the only one who stayed with him. He tried to salvage Gatsby’s reputation because he knew that Gatsby was not a killer and that he never slept with Myrtle Wilson. He tried to arrange a funeral for him when no one else would. He was the only one who cared. “Me and Gatsby, against them all.

Oh God, now I’m sad again. ~TRL

Book Review: “Killing Time”

Whaaat? Now I’m doing book reviews? Well, this is a special case. You see, this is a Star Trek novel, and if you’re a Spirk shipper, an absolute must read.

(**Spoilers ahead.**)

Killing Time is a short novel by Della Van Hise, originally published in 1985. When Pocket Books first put it out, apparently it was so gay that Paramount Pictures requested that the slashier parts be taken out. That didn’t end up happening due to a screw-up in editing, and the book was published as is. At least, until Gene Roddenberry read it and made the publisher recall it. PB had to put out a new, less gay version of the story.

I’m pretty sure the version I read was the censored edition, but even then, it’s still really gay. Let me show you what I mean.

To summarize, KT is about Kirk having strange dreams about being an ensign on a starship in an alternate universe, serving under Captain Spock. It turns out that Spock and several other members of the Enterprise, including one Jerry Richardson, are having similar dreams.

However, the dream soon becomes reality, and the Enterprise has been replaced with the starship Shi’Khar. No one remembers the other reality. In the new reality, the Federation was created not by mankind, but by the Vulcans. Kirk was wrongly accused of murder and offered a station on the starship as an alternative to prison. In addition, he’s also got PTSD connected with some disciplinary mental torture device they used on him in order to get a confession out of him, and his cabinmate keeps beating the shit out of him. This universe is not nice to our Jimmy. 😢

It’s soon established that the Romulans have a device they’ve used to pervert history so that humanity never formed the Federation. The leader of the Romulans, who happens to be a character we’ve met before – Thea, from “The Enterprise Incident” – is behind it all, wanting revenge on Spock for spurning and humiliating her. A big part of her plot is separating him from Kirk, since she knows they’re totally t’hy’la, so she can claim Spock as her consort.

Luckily, it doesn’t work, and Kirk, Spock, and Richardson finally realize the Romulans have changed history. They all work together to fix it, knowing that they and their reality will disappear if they set time right again. The three sacrifice their lives to undo the history-change, and Kirk wakes up in the right reality, once again Captain of the Enterprise, with Spock as his right hand man, with the other reality remembered vaguely as a bad dream.

This book is a Kirk/Spock goldmine. For one thing, it is established very clearly that Kirk and Spock are t’hy’la (duh), and they have a mental bond! (In Vulcan culture, mental bonds are developed between married couple. Hmmm…)

The first few chapters talk a lot about the close, personal “friendship” between Spock and Kirk, and they are very tender with each other. There’s even a part where Spock lays his hand on Kirk’s shoulder and Kirk covers it with his own (gee, good thing Vulcans don’t kiss with their hands or anything…oh, wait). Also, Spock muses several times on Kirk’s looks: “firm features, tanned flesh, expressive hazel eyes, and a compelling human grin. Single lock of gold-bronze hair falling to the middle of a high forehead.” Geez, Spock, we all know Kirk is a dreamboat, but come on.

Even when time is changed and they don’t know each other, Spock and Kirk yearn for each other’s company. Kirk wakes up from a bad dream and immediately calls out for Spock; Spock has a vision of Kirk and wonders possibly if this is his t’hy’la. You know…the Vulcan equivalent of soulmate.

Not to mention, due to the time corruption, Spock goes into pon farr (because no Spirk fic is complete without the ritual Vulcan mating frenzy!), and he dreams longingly about Kirk! (Unfortunately he ends up banging the Romulan chick out of desperation. She kind of takes advantage of his needy state. It’s a little on the squickish side.)

But the homoerotic subtext doesn’t end with the space husbands! There’s also some flirting between Kirk and Richardson, who calls Kirk “Juliet”. When Richardson dies, Kirk sadly calls him “Romeo”. I am not making this up. Also, there’s a romance between Richardson and this alien chick who works on the Enterprise/Shi’Khar named S’Parva, and they perfectly parallel Kirk and Spock!!!!

Toward the end after they’ve saved the universe, Spock is dying from a poison bullet wound, and the second reality is collapsing. And Kirk and Spock decide to die holding each other????? While melding their minds one last time????????? What kind of old-couple-cuddling-each-other-as-the-Titantic-is-sinking romantic tripe is this?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

These are are some lines that made me fangirl squee with joy:

Surely, he told himself, there would be someone with whom the Vulcan could bond, someone who could walk the path with him, balance him, love him. For a long time, Kirk considered that. (just platonically pondering whether or not your bro will have a life partner)

…when he opened his eyes again, it was to see Spock still standing, looking down at him questioningly. There was concern–and possibly Vulcan worry–written in the black eyes. Kirk held the penetrating gaze for a moment, then managed a smile when he saw the Vulcan soften. (And then he drags Spock off to the ship’s garden for a date I MEAN manly stroll.)

Absently, he reached out to touch the human’s cheek for confirmation, but stopped when Kirk’s eyes widened fearfully. (So Captain Spock notices a bruise on Kirk’s cheek and just casually reaches out to caress his face. #JustBroThings)

For an illogical moment, he found himself thinking of the future–with Kirk at his side. . . (THIS SPOCK BARELY KNOWS THIS KIRK AND HE WANTS TO SPEND THE REST OF HIS LIFE WITH HIM WHAT THE HELL)

The images whisper-walked through his mind. Blue and gold. Warmth and companionship. Stolen moments when the firm Vulcan mask did not have to fit so tightly. (I’M ABOUT TO EXPLODE I SWEAR TO SURAK)

He glanced up, meeting the Vulcan’s eyes. Somehow, shirtless, and with hair slightly dishelved, the Shi’Kahr’s legendary captain seemed almost vulnerable in the dim lighting… almost reachable. (Kirk checkin’ out Spock’s hot Vulcan bod, hell yeah.)

“Kidnap James Kirk, keep him from the Vulcan long enough … and Spock will do anything in his power to get him back safely, Sarela.” (Damn, Thea knows EXACTLY what Spock’s weak spot is.)

…what is dearest to him in all the combined universes… (This is what Kirk is to Spock, according to Thea. I MEAN)

Spock knew he must be there when his companion awakened… (So Kirk and this other crew member were in danger and Spock only had time to save one of them, and of course he picked his darling Kirky! Now Kirk is knocked out in sick bay, and Spock is longing to be at his bedside, calling Kirk his companion. Again, HE BARELY KNOWS KIRK.)

In seven years as command of the Shi’Kahr, he had never met a human who could arouse such forbidden feelings, who could wrestle emotion from him as easily as turning on the light. (*me, screaming* Also, they’re sexy anger-wrestling right now.)

“I need you. The Empire needs you. . . . What more can there be?” “James Kirk,” the Vulcan murmured without hesitation. (Lady, you just got REJECTED.)

“Can he be worth what you are doing, Spock? Can any one man be worth an entire universe?” The Vulcan’s response was direct and without hesitation. “Yes.” (JIM IS WORTH THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE TO SPOCK I CAN’T)

Kirk smiled wistfully, then reached out to touch the Vulcan’s arm reassuringly as he remembered the mind-fever he’d felt himself. Without explanation, it had vanished … and as he glanced at Thea, the reason became clearer. “As long as you’re alive,” he said quietly, absently projecting a warmth into his companion’s mind. (Kirk is “wistful” that Spock had sex with Thea. That’s not something I made up. Also, Kirk felt Spock’s pon farr????? Vulcan marital mental bond much?????)

He is even deeper in your blood than Vulcan. It was, he realized, a very simple truth. (*more screaming*)

“Perhaps it would be wise to discuss the matter in more detail later this evening,” he suggested. “Since we are both due on the bridge …” He let the sentence trail off, unfinished. (DID SPOCK JUST INVITE KIRK TO HAVE SEXY TIME LATER??????)

In the Vulcan’s quarters, Kirk sat slowly on the ornate meditation pillows (OH YEAH THEY DEFINITELY DID THE NASTY)

Remembering an ancient human proverb, he found some small comfort in the knowledge that Kirk was obviously laughing to keep from crying. (Again, they’re talking about Spock hooking up with Thea and Jim has to laugh to keep from crying???????)

This novel is so perfect. ~TRL