Unpopular "13 Reasons Why" Opinion: Tony Did The Wrong Thing Sending Around Hannah's Tapes
It's no secret that "13 Reasons Why" is the latest Netflix drama series to be on everyone's to-binge list. For anyone not familiar with the show or not finished watching it, beware, because spoilers are ahead.
Tony, welcome to your tape...
Okay, so the whole purpose of Tony as a character is to essentially be the keeper of the tapes. He makes sure that they get to everyone on Hannah's list in the order she has intended, and he makes sure that everything goes according to plan (aka, no one spills the beans on the tapes because he threatens to release them, though he doesn't explicitly threaten that). To put it bluntly, he is the one that makes sure that Hannah's revenge is executed properly and her story is told.
The main opinion I have heard defending Tony being the keeper of the tapes is that he was just fulfilling Hannah's dying wish—to make sure that everyone that wronged her and influenced her decision to commit suicide finally hears her side of the story. Some pretty horrible things happened to Hannah, like stalking, bullying, and rape, and she deserved to get some revenge by making those who wronged her come face to face with the repercussions of their actions.
Except, they aren't really forced to face the consequences of their actions, because they listen to the tapes and go about life as if they never happened, either out of fear of getting in trouble or because dealing with the harsh realities of their behavior was too much to bear. Until Clay gets the tapes and (rightly and justifiably) freaks the hell out, everyone who has listened to Hannah's story feels perfectly fine sweeping this under the rug and not dealing with any of it. It's not until Clay starts poking around and demanding answers and reactions from people do we finally see them deal with the reality of what has happened and how they contributed to Hannah's drop of self worth and self esteem.
Since this is what was happening before Clay got involved, all Tony was doing was making sure that everyone listened to the tapes. He only threatened to release the tapes to the public when people said they wouldn't listen. And even then, his threats were pretty empty, because it took Clay essentially weeks to listen to the tapes and he was only ever half-heartedly threatened once.
If Tony was really concerned about making sure that Hannah was properly respected after her death, he should have immediately turned the tapes over to the police once he had listened to them and realized what a huge amount of horrific things had happened to push this girl off the edge (not to mention that Jessica, who was still very much alive, had her rape revealed on the tapes). This wasn't a game where the mean girl and her posse were looking to mess with people by coming up with a big trick to play on everyone. These were the feelings, thoughts, and confessions of a tortured girl who had killed herself, and the people around her who had suffered or caused suffering, some of them doing inhumane and illegal things like stalking and raping. The police needed to hear about these things right away so that if any action could be taken, it could happen right away. Even if it just ended up in an investigation, releasing these tapes to the police would have allowed for some real lesson learning to take place because there would be no hiding from them. It would have offered some closure to Hannah's poor parents, who we can see struggle throughout the series with the fact that they weren't 100% sure why this had happened.
Now, this was not an opinion that I held so strongly during the first few episodes. Sure, I was saying from the beginning that Tony was essentially a useless character who stalked everyone in his muscle car, but it was the reveal of Clay's tape that really set me off.
Throughout the series, up until Clay starts listening to his tape, Tony can see how tortured Clay is over the death of Hannah, how he is struggling to come to terms with it, and how much he loved her. Tony kept treating Clay as though he was just as bad as everyone on the tapes, which causes Clay to go essentially insane because he feels so responsible for the death of the girl he loved and hating himself over what he could have possible done. Tony treats Clay like this, going so far as to flat out tell him that he is partly responsible for her committing suicide, even after he had listened to all of the tapes, including Clay's tape, which reveals that after Hannah gave Clay permission to hook up with her, she had an anxiety attack and told him to get off of her and go away, and he listened even though deep down she wanted him to stay. Clay was on the tapes because he cared for and respected Hannah so much that when she was having a melt down and yelled at him and cursed at him to leave her alone, he listened, trying to give her exactly what she said she wanted, thinking he was doing the right thing.
Sure, you could argue that Clay is also on there because he saw Hannah get bullied multiple times and didn't say anything. Which is true. But is that deserving of being labeled as a cause for her death? Every student in that school watched her get bullied and didn't say anything. Why don't they all have tapes? In reality, every single person that shared the photo Justin took of her on the slide and every person who laughed at her poem or at a rumor going around about her being a slut is just as responsible. Clay had a good heart, and cared for her, and didn't act up when he should have. But he had zero intention of hurting her, and not only did Hannah know that, but Tony knew that and continued to make Clay believe that he was partly responsible and that he wasn't allowed to talk to anyone about how horrible he felt and instead forced him to torture himself and listen to the tapes. Tony knew that Clay had no intention of ever hurting Hannah and was only trying to do the right thing by leaving the room when she asked him to, and Tony led Clay to believe that he was a killer.
What Tony did was wrong. It was perfectly understandable that Hannah wanted revenge, but if he was as good a friend to Hannah or Clay like he said he was, he would have taken these tapes to the police, explained what happened, and stopped everyone from torturing themselves. Sure, some people deserved it, but it is not Tony's role to play God, nor was it Hannah's. I understand that it is hard for victims to speak up, and it is not at all my intention to victim shame Hannah. I just feel like Tony, who was not at all a victim in this story, should have known better than to make 13 more victims, instead of doing whatever he could to make sure that what happened to Hannah went public to ensure that her ongoing harassment ended right then and there, instead of being passed on to more victims, because this wasn't a game. It was people's lives.
Main Photo Courtesy of Mic