Thirteen in the Public Sphere

The public sphere is a metaphorical term referring to a space in which citizens may meet to discuss and debate common concerns and public issues. As the world, technology and society have evolved so too have original methods of communicating concerns thus introducing the mediated public sphere. This refers to the media and its role in the public sphere; a channel for communication, providing various platforms and broadcasting opportunities which are inclusive of a larger audience as opposed to previous years.


Media texts are often the fuel for fiery debates at the centre of the mediated public sphere. When asked to think about a text that might contribute to debate, the provocative film ‘Thirteen’ released in 2003, written by Nikki Reed and directed by Catherine Hardwicke came to mind. This semi-autobiographical film raises issues relating to drug addiction, self harm, sexual identity and behaviour, acts of crime such as stealing, identity and acceptance. Scenes are graphic and confronting but of course it is the lack of subtlety that composes such a raw and compelling film. It sparked conversation between my friends and I as we questioned whether the film had taken it too far in exploring the challenges of adolescence?

The vast majority of comments and articles that I’ve read about the film have been positive and commending. However I have noticed frequent recommendations for younger teens to watch the film only in the company of an adult so that conversation may be encouraged. This being said – the film calls for conversation as a result of its unsettling subject matter. It provokes a battle between our ideologies and reality that may only be resolved through conversation or debate; whether its with friends, family, on the internet or other media sources (mediated public sphere).

For Reference:

Mckee,  A, 2005, ‘Introduction: the public sphere: an introduction’, in  Public Sphere: An Introduction, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pages 1-31, accessed 12/04/2013

Turnbull, S 2013, ‘Media Mythbusting: Big Brother is Watching You’,  lecture slides BCM110 Introduction to Communication and Media Studies, University of Wollongong, accessed 12/04/2013

Fuchs.C, 2003, ‘Thirteen (2003), Feeling Anything’, Pop Matters, accessed 13/04/2013 <>

September 2003, ‘Thirteen (2003) Film Review: Synopsis’ , Hollywood Jesus, accessed 13/04/2013, <>

Last updated by e-burton97, 12 April 2013, ‘Parents Guide for Thirteen (2003)’, imdb, 13/04/2013, <>

Edelstein.D, August 2003, ‘Girls Gone Wild: Thirteen is a cautionary tale about a good girl who turns bad’, Slate, accessed 13/04/2013, <>

Minow.N, Janurary 2004, ‘Thirteen’, Common Sense Media, accessed 13/04/2013, <>

March 2011, ‘All teen and kid reviews for Thirteen’, Common Sense Media, accessed 13/04/2013 <>

April 2008, ‘All parent reviews for Thirteen’, Common Sense Media, accessed 13/04/2013 <>

Murray.R, unknown, ‘Thirteen Movied Review: Sex, Drugs and Shattered Innocence’, – Movies, accessed 13/04/2013, <>


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