BY KIMBERLY ROSE
Netflix isn’t one to shy away from controversy, liked we learned with its hit drama series 13 Reasons Why. A series that follows the reasons why a high school teen killed herself, “13 Reasons Why” was not received well, despite the show’s good intentions. They wanted to start conversation, and at the end of the day – that’s exactly what they did.
The popular streaming service is at it again with the latest Netflix film set to premiere on July 14. The newest drama, To the Bone, is a story about the struggles and journey of young woman battling anorexia, played by Lily Collins.
While a Sundance-approved film, “To the Bone” has been accused of wrongly presenting sensitive matter and turning an eating disorder into something glamorous. Dramatic content like disorders, mental illnesses, and suicides can be triggering to those who have been affected by the matter – but has Hollywood failed to consider the consequences to streaming such controversial portrayals?
With emerging voices both critiquing and defending the film on Twitter, this provoked a response from To the Bone writer and director Marti Noxon. She revealed truth about her own health battles and ensured that she approached this film with care and responsibility.
“Having struggled with Anorexia and Bulimia well into my 20s, I know firsthand the struggle, isolation and shame a person feels when they are in the grips of this illness,” wrote Noxon. “In an effort to tell this story as responsibly as we could, we spoke with other survivors and worked with Project Heal throughout the production in the hopes of being truthful in a way that wasn’t explosive. That said, it’s important to remember EDs is unique and To The Bone is just one of the millions of ED stories that could be told in the US at this very moment. My goal with the film was not to glamorize EDs, but to serve as a conversation starter about an issue that is too often clouded by secrecy and misconceptions. I hope that by casting a little light into the darkness of this disease we can achieve greater understanding and guide people to help if they need it.”
Noxon’s response does reveal the film’s good intentions, but it still doesn’t answer the question as to how Hollywood should approach telling a story with triggering content. Is it worth sparking discussion in an attempt to create an understanding? Or does it always fall short of an accurate illustration and offend those who have experienced it?
We’ll see how far streaming services, television and film will go to do justice with controversial material – but hopefully not at the expense of viewers. You can watch “To the Bone,” which stars Lily Collins and Keanu Reeves on July 14 on Netflix. Get a sneak peek at the film with the trailer HERE, but be aware it does contain sensitive material.