Friday, April 7, 2017

13 Reasons & Number 26.

So I was mindlessly perusing Netflix recently when I came across a show 13 Reasons Why that had just been posted. The premise looked interesting, and given the rating I knew it was going to have a more adult theme to the drama than annoying teenage angst depicted in most shows directed at that age group. I have to say that I got pulled into that show like a moth to a flame. I don't think I've ever binge watched anything in my entire life as I did that show. Regardless whether or not it is critiqued in a positive or negative light, you have to admit that by the end of each episode you wanted to see what would happen next, and where the story narrative was going. The show is about a young woman, junior in high school, that killed herself due to many factors and the title of the show is connected to those factors. She recorded the reasons why she killed herself on 13 audio cassettes, and each side of the tape revolved around a specific person that in her mind participated in her psychological and emotional deterioration. The 13 audio tapes are each passed on by the people about who they are about until they get to the main character of this show, Clay Jensen (played excellently by Dylan Minnette), who struggles greatly listening to the emotional angst that his friend experienced. All thirteen episodes of the show are about him systematically listening to the audio tapes and dealing with the people that they are about, there are also frequent flashbacks as the reasons for why she killed herself are all pieced together by Clay. The performances were pretty good I have to say, although there were some moments that were a little ridiculous. I didn't care either that it seemed on more than one occasion the girl who killed herself, Hannah (played very well by Katherine Langford), was blaming other people for why she killed herself rather than taking responsibility for her actions which led to her demise. There are a lot of highly emotionally charged scenes, as well as some disturbing scenes depicting rape, and then there was the scene where she killed herself. This show has brevity yes, but for the most part it is dark, painful and tortuous drama that can unfold (and I'm sure does) in a young person's life. I for one didn't experience anything like that as I was homeschooled for most of my life and then went to small private Christian schools, of which I am very thankful after watching this show. If this is really what high school is like these days, then God be with every young woman and man. But regarding the show, I'd re-watch it, but if you prefer non-serious, lighthearted fare it would be best to avoid.
Not too long ago I decided that I was going to read a biography on every American president before I die. So far I read George W. Bush's memoirs, and I just finished reading a biography on Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States of America. I didn't know too much about the man before I read the 800 plus page volume, but I think I have a firm grasp of him now. I believe I would say he has become one of my favorite presidents. He pushed himself throughout his entire life against all odds. He was very sickly as a child, he had asthma, but he pushed himself physically to be tough, and was very much a pull yourself up by your bootstraps kind of man. He experienced great tragedy in his life though. His father died when he was about 19 years old. His mother and first wife died essentially on the same day when he was about 21 right after his first child was born. And then later on during WWI when all of his sons (5 I think) were in the war, one of them died in a plane crash. He believed in doing something because there was a moral necessity to do so, particularly when it came to foreign affairs and domestic progressive policy against business. He constantly bucked his own party, Republican, which was very pro-business and he began the process of breaking of the great trusts of his time: Rockefeller, Carnegie and JP Morgan as well as other large companies. He was progressive in favoring workers over businesses, he decided to build the Panama canal, he balanced relations between the German, Japanese and Russian Empires and while he was president there were no major world wars or conflicts that boiled out of control. Now I'm going to make a parallel here, and even though I haven't read many presidential biographies, so far President Trump is very similar to President Teddy Roosevelt in personality style, leadership style, governing style, and both came from wealth and were not very well liked in their own political party. He was a bombastic man, but what I like about him was his belief in the simple, ordinary, every day American who he believed made this country great and those were the people he enjoyed being around and championing. He wasn't afraid to take anyone on who he believed threatened the security and well being of this country; from his friends to his own political party. He made a decision and he would follow through on it. I think he balanced Federalism and the rights of states very well, and although he made some strategic mistakes as every president does, nothing he did irreparably damaged the US and only magnified the greatness in which he imbued on the office of President of the United States. Here is a quote from some his final writings before he died:
"Only those are fit to live who do not fear to die, and none are fit to die who have shrunk from the joy of life and the duty of life. Both life and death are parts of the same Great Adventure..."
I definitely recommend that each person reads at least a few biographies of these great men who ran/run the greatest experiment in democracy of all time; there are 45 to choose from, so where will you begin?

13 Reasons Why cast interviews

 The History Channel on President Theodore Roosevelt

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