Tape 1: Side A – Justin Foley
Like all great tales you always have to start from the beginning to understand how the snowball that turned into a deadly avalanche got started and it was inadvertently started by Justin Foley. I have 2 different opinions of Justin, one of those opinions I will express in this entry the other opinion I’ll express in a later entry. My opinion for this entry is that Justin meant well but he did what most guys do back in high school and life in general but that backfired in a major way. To sum it up in a few sentences: Justin was Hannah’s first crush, they got together, they were a good couple… until Justin bragged to his friends about being with her, even though the relationship was innocent Hannah was labeled school wide a “slut” because rumors made everyone believe she was having sex when in reality she wasn’t having sex and lord knows that you can’t be a woman who appears to like having sex because that makes you look impure for some reason.
The rumors that branded Hannah a “slut” was basically her being infected with a virus that would slowly kill her and that’s not really an exaggeration since Hannah both physically and mentally was being worn down as the series goes along all because her crush had to brag about something that never happened. Justin’s tape showed us 2 things: 1. The phrase “perception is reality” can really be a dangerous thing especially in a combustible closed off space like high school where your reputation is your life source. People don’t want to know the truth they just want to know what they see before them… and if that person has something you want or desire then that’s even more reason to unnecessary hate that person even more. Since Hannah was new to that school she didn’t have the luxury to have time to build a rapport with her classmates so to many of them the “slut” rumors was all they knew of Hannah and they rolled with it.
Then there’s 2. This is not the first time that this has happened to Hannah. I didn’t noticed this during the first few viewings but I recently re-listened to the audiobook and she points out a few times that this new school that she ended up at was “a fresh start” from the bullshit she had to deal with from the last school. They low-key was telling us that Hannah was bullied and dealt with vicious rumors before… so this Justin situation was just a reoccurring nightmare she was reliving again. You can only run so far from your problems before they catch back up to you… and to all of those insensitive bastards out there thinking that Hannah was overreacting over a lot of the issues she talked about on the tapes they must not realize that a normal human being can only deal with so much bullshit until they reach the breaking point. I hope season 2 shines a light of Hannah back in her old school cause that would answer a few questions.
Speaking of portrayals let’s talk about the character of Justin Foley. Justin was a star basketball player but unlike most star athletes that appear on tv shows and movies who usually are assholes of some kind Justin really wasn’t like that. Justin was shown as a kid that played ball, went to parties, had a girlfriend and chilled with his bros. Now there was a fragile home life he had that I’ll talk about on a later entry but for the most part he wasn’t the bullying type. So for Justin to be a bookend to these cassette tapes… the alpha of Hannah’s destruction… the man who gave the first crack in the glass that just kept on fracturing…. you get the point….. It just goes to show you that your actions no matter how small they are can cause an outstanding butterfly effect without a way to reverse those effects. It makes you question if Hannah knew all of this would go down would she had still pursue Justin? All because of that smile… that damn smile.