"13 Reasons Why" was debatably the biggest, most controversial, most talked about television series of 2017. When the show was renewed for a second season, everyone was buzzing about what the next season would entail. Now the show is at the centre of the internet again, but for a very different reason.
The story revolves around a teenager, Hannah Baker and the aftermath of her suicide. The show reveals that sexual assault and harassment were major themes to Hannah's story and she explains in the series that those incidents led her to depression and suicide.
Sexual assault, harassment, suicide and depression are not new topics, but the candidness of the TV series highlighted these themes in public conversation, in a way that hasn't been done before. The show broke Twitter records for over 3.5 million tweets in only one week after the series released on Netflix.
The author of the novel, "13 Reasons Why", Jay Asher has been accused of sexual harassment. Considering the impact of the television series, this could create a huge setback for viewers of the series and taint the book as well.
Last month, an article titled "Children's Publishing Reckons With Sexual Harassment in Its Ranks" was published and it detailed anonymous stories from the author's colleagues that have been harassed in their offices, after work, at conferences and book events. The stories were difficult to read, to say the least.
It wasn't until this month that the comments section became flooded with additional accusations against children's authors, including Jay Asher. Shortly after reading these accusations the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators began investigating the allegations and ultimately expelled Asher from the coveted society.
Asher denied the claims all the while explaining his discomfort considering the cultural climate. He admitted that he was afraid to comment on the situation because he didn't know who is going to believe him. Considering the #MeToo movement, the push for workplace equality and all of the sexual harassment stories recently revealed in Hollywood, if I were Asher, I would be afraid too.
The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators also spoke out and clarified that even though Asher claims he withdrew from the society, that he was indeed expelled along with David Diaz (another accused author). In the comments section of the related article, there were many accusations against other authors and I'm sure the society will be investigating those too.
I hope that the allegations against Asher don't diminish the important messages and themes of the story, regarding sexual harassment.