Posts Tagged ‘ television ’

Could the Fictional Suicide in ‘13 Reasons Why’ Inspire Real-Life Copycats?

Source: IMDb

It’s the latest title on everyone’s binge list. Yet, while Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why” has captured the imagination of countless viewers since its March debut, the most tweeted about show in TV history may also be one of its most controversial.

Based on the young adult novel by Jay Asher, the series revolves around Hannah Baker’s suicide and the cassette tapes she leaves behind. As you might’ve guessed, each tape explains one reason that drove her to take such drastic action. Producers behind the series, including Selena Gomez, hoped the fictional suicide would spark conversations about the state of mental health amongst tweens and teens. But school officials across the country are now warning parents about the show in their attempt to prevent copycat suicides.

Jia Tolentino, contributing writer for The New Yorker, writes, “Rather than starting a valuable conversation that could help students who are struggling with mental-health issues, the show, these schools fear, might push students with issues over the edge.”

Many administrators believe “13 Reasons Why” could romanticize the idea of suicide among the younger set, and rightfully so. Known as the Werther Effect, researchers have seen spikes in copycat deaths in response to celebrity or fictional suicides throughout history. Vulnerable parties often derive inspiration from examples in the media when seeking justification for their own impulses—and that’s precisely what has adults worried right now.

Source: IMDb

“For kids who are vulnerable, who suffer from depression and anxiety, it can be a trigger for suicidal idealization and that is of course a concern,” Anne Moss Rogers, who lost her 20-year-old son to suicide two years ago, told WTVR. If mainstream depictions of suicidal acts become ingrained in the fabric of modern pop culture, these hypothetical concerns might very well become real-life epidemics.

According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, researchers noted a 50 percent increase in intentional exposures—the third most common form of suicide—by adolescents between 2012 and 2016. MarketWatch reports that, in 2016 alone, poison centers managed more than 76,500 cases of intentional exposures in young adults. Overall, incoming call volume to poison centers continues to decrease, but cases with more serious clinical outcomes, including death, have increased by 4.3 percent per year since 2000. Some centers, however, have seen an uptick in cases just since the show’s premiere.

Lee Cantrell, director of the San Diego division of the California Poison Control System, told MarketWatch that these suspected suicide cases are particularly worrisome. “In our center alone, adolescent suicide and suicidal intent cases for the month of April were the highest we have observed in the past two years. Many of the more recent calls have referenced popular television shows that include messages of suicide, sometimes glamorizing suicide or inspiring deadly copycat behavior.”

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Click here to find out how students at one school are responding to the controversy!

We All Know Why They Announced the New “Bachelorette” Early

Fans of ABC’s “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” are accustomed to the formula by now. Producers allow the current season to play out. Then, shortly after the finale—sometimes during the ‘After the Final Rose’ broadcast itself—they announce that one of the show’s most recent rejects will headline the next season.

Of course, while current “Bachelor” Nick Viall wasn’t rejected by “Bachelorette” Jojo Fletcher, his two prior appearances on the show, plus his “Bachelor in Paradise” stint, made him the prime candidate. (Or ABC knew he’d never leave them alone unless they financed his own “journey” to find love—one or the other.)

Yet, despite causing much drama during both Andi Dorfman and Kaitlyn Bristowe’s seasons, Viall’s own adventures have been rather bland by comparison. ABC was probably banking on ratings gold, but even Chris Harrison can’t claim it’s the “most dramatic season ever” at this point.

That’s probably why ABC announced Rachel Lindsay will be the next “Bachelorette” an entire month before the finale—and long before her own “Bachelor” elimination, oddly enough.

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Read the rest of my article on Storia!

The Bill Paxton Effect

Despite our presumed differences, it’s safe to say that we’re all looking for that elusive “something” that makes us feel complete. Our specific pursuits are irrelevant when we stop to consider that, deep down, we’re all desperate to find meaning in a world that seems devoid of logic, especially now.

Film and television are notorious for bringing such feelings to light, for it’s in the eyes of the actors that we can see ourselves. Bill Paxton’s body of work—his characters, in particular—personifies our innate desire to seek what’s just out of reach. But if there’s one thing we can learn from what the beloved actor and director left behind, it’s that what we want and what we need don’t always align.

Source: CraveOnline

Source: CraveOnline

Paxton’s roles often looked to the outside world for direction. His unhinged persona in Frailty believed he was destined to rid the world of demons, for instance, while his adventurous alter ego in Twister unearthed renewed purpose when chasing tornadoes. But it was his turn as Brock Lovett in 1997’s Titanic that demonstrated how tunnel vision might distract us from the critical lessons of life.

“Three years, I’ve thought of nothing except Titanic, but I never got it. I never let it in.”

Spoken by Paxton’s Lovett at the end of the film, these words emphasize the character’s epiphany. While he’d spent years searching for the Heart of the Ocean, a rare diamond once worn by the now aging Rose Calvert, he neglected to explore the rich history buried deep within the ship’s wreckage. Lovett longed to find artifacts, forgetting that each item pulled from the ocean floor carried the stories of those lost and found. As he said, he never let the immensity of the disaster sink in, so to speak.

Source: CinemaBlend

Source: CinemaBlend

But isn’t that how most of us go about our daily lives? We are selfish. We rarely stop to observe what’s all around. We are oblivious to both the beauty and the injustice right before our eyes.

Though we live in an increasingly enlightened time—an era filled with activists who wish to fix the faults of our ailing society—many people opt to look the other way. Face forward and eyes down, they trudge through life with little regard for those who are suffering. If they stop to acknowledge these issues, they run the risk of derailing their own efforts. One step off the beaten path could mark the beginning of the end for their personal success.

Nowadays, we call that privilege. Historically, we call that ignorance.

But now, more than ever, we need to open our eyes and our ears. We must extend our hand and heart to our neighbor, both near and far. Local communities may be close-knit, but we’re all global citizens now. We owe to our people and our planet to seek solutions to the problems that affect everyone worldwide. We must spread the stories and amplify the voices of those in need to educate the selfish and encourage the selfless.

Source: YouTube

Source: YouTube

During an interview with “Film School Rejects” in 2014, Paxton expressed his boundless fascination with human-interest stories. “My father always read obituaries to me out loud, not because he was maudlin or morbid, but because they were mini biographies. ‘Listen to what this guy did! Look what he said. Look how he started out.’”

Human-interest stories, those that truly touch our hearts and inspire change, are born from an interest in humans from all walks of life. But to learn the lessons our friends and strangers have to teach, we must commit to walking with them, hand-in-hand, even if only for a short while.

Fans will surely quote Paxton for generations: “Game over, man!” For those blessed with life, however, the game has only just begun.

But we’ve got to be in it to win it.

Let’s allow Paxton, the director, to call the next shot. Let’s show more interest in our fellow humans, for it’s in every human’s best interest to cultivate an overarching culture of curiosity and compassion. From this core value, we can achieve anything as long as we do so together.

Source: SunStar

Source: SunStar

Knock It Off, Nostalgia!

iStock_000002879254_SmallIf George Santayana was correct, and those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it, then those who become consumed by nostalgia are doomed to dwell in another era. Pop culture buffs, in particular, have created this trap from which the entertainment industry cannot escape.

Nostalgia has become the primary impetus behind creativity throughout Hollywood, according to recent memory, driving numerous endeavors to “reboot” or “remake” the movies and TV shows of yesteryear. Yet, while this wave of inspiration—or lack thereof—appears to be motivated by an unyielding yearning for days gone by, one may also perceive this trend as an attempt to capitalize on prior successes. (Who am I kidding? That’s exactly what they’re doing…)

Most studios and investors prefer to sink money into ideas that are essentially past their expiration date simply because these once profitable entities still remain vivid within our collective consciousness. But these lackluster attempts to restore characters and concepts to their former glory could very well be the key to their imminent demise. You see, it’s their memory that holds the appeal. TV shows, such as Full House, and films, such as Poltergeist, remain popular in their original form because they carry an innate timelessness that cannot be replicated. Despite the1980s vibe, each exists outside the confines of the given decade, allowing generation after generation to enjoy what attracted audiences in the first place.

Of course, remakes and reboots are by no means new to the industry. Hollywood’s history is chock full of unnecessary spinoffs and sequels. (Please see Three’s A Crowd, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), and every installment of the Leprechaun series for reference.) But today, it’s as if nearly all major films and franchises are born from what already exists. It’s as if there’s simply no room for unique thought and creativity in today’s entertainment space. Just check out this list of upcoming movies as assembled by Grantland:harris-sequels-2

Also, if you can’t get the original cast to sign on, that clearly means you shouldn’t pursue the idea any further. The Prince and Me and its subsequent straight-to-DVD iterations, for instance, defy industry expectations, ultimately representing all that’s wrong with the entertainment world today. Not only was the initial film rather lackluster and poorly received, overall, but also its three follow-ups—which I can happily say I’ve never seen—steadily deteriorated, as the creators grasped onto farfetched concepts despite the exit of their primary star, Julia Stiles. (I wish I could tell you that 2010’s The Prince and Me 4: The Elephant Adventure was something I just made up myself, but alas, even I was unaware that this atrocity existed.) Who decided to spend money on these $5 bargain bin liners instead of investing in something worthwhile? Even something risky would’ve been more profitable, I’m sure.

Our society desperately needs to open the pathways for innovation and invention. Yet, instead of rewarding unique concepts, we get too-soon remakes, like She’s All That (which came out in 1999, mind you) and Girl Meets World, the more modern, slightly urbanized version of its original incarnation, Boy Meets World. If Hollywood continues down this road, we will be forced to indulge the same ideas over and over, leaving no room for new forms of nostalgia to blossom. Our children will only have our stale, used memories to revel in themselves. Let’s nurture future creatives by allowing the new to become old again.

Measured By the Moments

To watch the news is to watch history in the making, to learn what the books will never actually teach.  Some may think the constant fixation on tragedy marks our desire to draw pleasure from another’s pain, but our obsessions are nothing more than curiosity.  Most do not wish to see their fellow humans suffer.  We simply long to make sense out of the horrors that consistently grace our screens.

Ever since the earthquake and tsunami altered Japanese lives forever, one cannot turn on the television or browse the Internet without images, articles and live footage staring back at them from all angles.  Yet we do not point and laugh, sitting idly by to brag about our good fortune.  Instead, we gather whatever aid we can provide, even if only just a few pennies found between the couch cushions, and we forego our economic woes to help those whose homes, loved ones and livelihoods were washed away by the unforgiving ocean.  We come together and lend humanity a hand because our cruel world can still ignite that occasional spark of warmth and compassion.

Every major television network continues to provide extensive coverage, while key news outlets continuously update their homepages and social media accounts in an effort to keep the public up-to-date and aware.  Natural disasters baffle, so we watch the footage incessantly just in case a secret lies within that may unlock the key to controlling such phenomena.  But as of right now, we all cling to the unknown, bound by the fact that we will all inevitably die.

You see, most believe in some sort of higher power.  The “something greater” accounts for all those instances that life and science just cannot control or explain.  Humans have yet to determine what everything means, so we latch onto something intangible in hope that there really is more to our journey than life and death.

Religion holds so much power, in fact, that many die in its defense.  We ignore the fact that many believe in said higher power, and fight over the intricacies.  We disregard the fundamental similarity and kill over the differences.  We neglect the fact that we are all part of one whole and focus our attention on eliminating anyone whose theories contradict or differ from our own.  We are complete fools who insist we know what’s correct, when we all know, deep down, that defending our specific beliefs simply makes us feel as if we have a better grip on reality.

Instead, find solace in the fact that you don’t know the truth, for no one does, and embrace the differences by remembering that we are not alone in our search for understanding.  Help the hurt and save the suffering – do anything you can to ease other’s burdens and lighten their loads.  We may not know if there are truly angels up in Heaven, or if Heaven even exist, but we can certainly spread a sense of peace and hope within our world today.

The Art of Crying Your Eyes Out

There is nothing more depressing than turning on the television at nearly one o’clock in the morning only to stumble upon the series finale of The Golden Girls.  As Rose (Betty White), Blanche (Rue McClanahan) and Sophia (Estelle Getty) stand there, hoping Dorothy (Bea Arthur) will pop in for just one more hug goodbye, you realize you don’t need to watch the whole episode, or series, to cry along with the cast.

By looking at the faces of everyone on screen, you will see their eyes say so much more than any dialogue could ever express.  The audience feels an overwhelming sadness because the end of a long-running program – a show with which they invested time, and often, emotion – looms near, while the actors cry not only because it’s what the script dictates, but also because a chapter in their life is drawing to a close.

And, with this being the season for graduations, we cannot help but look upon the current hour as one of melancholy and nostalgia.  While the majority embrace change and eventually accept it for what it is, memories flood in and only relieve themselves in the form of tears.  Even for someone like me, who graduated over a year ago now, the outpouring of sadness cluttering my Facebook News Feed in the form of photo albums and status updates is enough to make a girl misty-eyed for the good ol’ days, when my best friends were only a short walk away.  Life goes on, and the aftermath isn’t really as bad as one may imagine, but the idea that what once was will never be again creates a dark cloud that will only dissipate with time.

This week, the last Harry Potter film wraps up shooting.  The film franchise that launched the acting careers of its stars, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, will enter its final post-production phase, capping off its ten-year stint at the top of the box office with a two-part send off in the form of The Deathly Hallows.

Yet, while we as an audience are mourning the impending end of a series that has entertained millions over the past decade, for Radcliffe, Watson and Grint, this ending shall be bittersweet.  As if they are actual graduates of Hogwarts, the threesome will now be free to spread their wings and dapple in whatever they see fit.  And though this change may be liberating, it also holds that same melancholy severity that comes at the end of all things.  The cast has grown up before our very eyes, right along with many of us as we too matured alongside Harry, Hermione and Ron.  But as the overly used cliché does state, all good things must come to an end.

Perhaps this is why many of the world’s self-induced endings come at this time of year.  Have we strategically timed sad events with the beauty of the budding, nice weather as a way of buffering the inevitable?  Sure, our eyes may be clouded with tears for a moment as we say goodbye to television shows and the characters that became members of the family as they celebrate their series finale.  And it is safe to say that the tears will fall like rain on a mortarboard as caps are tossed toward the sky and we wave goodbye to the friends who became brothers and sisters.  But, once the cloud lifts, and we begin to see again, the beauty of the springtime and the world around us dries the tears and bombards us with a sense of life and vigor that proves to us endings truly are just a way to begin again, that everything has its season, and that all will come full circle no matter what the circumference.

The Good Ones Are Always Taken

They say you can’t hurry love.  (No, you just have to wait.)  Diana Ross, The Dixie Chicks, even Phil Collins – they’ve all sung the same story.  You simply cannot rush what is meant to be.  No matter what decisions you make to expedite the process, fate will ultimately make the final call and love (if that’s what it is) will find a way.

But on Monday night, the world witnessed the kind of fate that can only be orchestrated by a TV production crew, a swanky setting and a ridiculous concept. On ABC’s The Bachelor, Jake Pavelka (32) proposed to finalist Vienna Girardi (23), leaving Tenley Molzahn (25) a heartbroken runner-up. In a matter of weeks, Jake, a commercial pilot and former Bachelorette reject, weeded through the 25 women vying for his affection, narrowing his choice down to the two women that seemed to capture his eye the most. Despite his “emotional connection” with Tenley, Jake “shockingly” opted for the comfortable “physical chemistry” he felt between him and his new fiancé.

Having only confessed to Tenley the day before about his past tendencies to avoid the emotional and mainly seek the physical, Jake proved he truly does always head down the same relationship path every time by picking the woman least likely to remain committed. (Vienna was previously married for a total of three weeks.) The Bachelor does not have a great track record for successful relationships, in fact. Of the 13 seasons prior, none of the bachelors have married the woman they proposed to during the final rose ceremony. And though Jake seems convinced that his feelings for Vienna qualify as love, we have yet to see if their physical attraction will endure and lead to a happy ending, or if their time together will amount to nothing more than a fling fallen by the wayside like every bachelor since the show’s premiere in 2002. (Note: If all these men are such “amazing” guys, and considered to be “great catches”, why must they broadcast their last-stitch effort of finding a significant other on national television?)

Such a show brings into question exactly how one can find true love when their every move is being watched by the resident camera crew. With 25 women chasing after one man, one has to wonder if this is actually a single guy’s honest attempt to find the wife and soul mate he’s been searching for all his life, or simply one man living out his dream of having a harem. By the time the show reaches its final episodes, some scenes border on the pornographic; the ladies of the house need not worry about the resident bachelor ever kissing and telling, for we have already seen it all. But while he is testing the physical waters with everyone in the house, those women not solely in it for fame and fortune begin to actually fall for the man up for grabs, putting the saying “leading them on” in a whole new league of its own.

How, after watching the man you are falling for kiss and become intimate with a flock of other women, can you really feel special if you are the one he chooses? In the case of Tenley and Vienna, Jake was immensely conflicted up until hours before his proposal. True love is something you know and feel deep within, not a decision you make to appease a network’s allotted season. One may be able to find a potential life partner during these short weeks, but to end the season with a proposal is pushing the envelope. Love at first sight may be the culprit and exception to the rule, but with Jake’s tear-filled goodbye to Tenley, we know that is certainly not the case here.

Love is supposed to be a strong bond between two people, something not clouded by desire for another. If love is true, every member of the opposite gender will cease to exist in your eyes, leaving you to see only each other. Perhaps such love no longer exists in a world obsessed with speed dating and matchmaking sites; perhaps this assumption is simply a fairytale that now only exists in the movies. But such ‘happily ever after’ fantasies will never be found through a fast-paced, money-hungry reality television series, whether one relationship succeeds or not. But maybe – just maybe – if we slow down to peruse our bookshelves and take a few cues from our childhood storybooks, we will find the key to putting a little magic back into that little thing called love.

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