Christian Grey. Chuck Bass. And now Joe Goldberg. We, as consumers of pop culture, have a troubling partiality to abusive male characters in movies and TV shows.
If you’re like the majority of people and love yourself a good Netflix binge, odds are good that you’ve already made your way through the Netflix series ‘You’.
‘You’, the new-to-Netflix series, which premiered on Lifetime in September 2018, has skyrocketed to the top of everyone’s watch list in 2019. The psychological thriller keeps the audience on its toes.
The show follows Joe Goldberg – an attractive, charming, literature-loving bookstore manager – and Guinevere Beck, a girl he meets at the store. His attraction to Beck quickly turns into an obsession, he stalks her online and in real life to learn more about her life, and will stop at nothing to be with her. When his actions become violent, he tricks himself into thinking he’s doing Beck a favor.
Many fans can’t help but romanticize Penn Badgley’s character, Joe Goldberg, a stalker and murderer, even though they know he is beyond problematic.
Actor Penn Badgley said in an interview with E! News, “I’m really questioning why people like Joe so much.”
Joe – and people like him – should not be romanticized. People like him should be feared. His behavior is completely inappropriate, and it’s not the kind of relationship men and women should be aspiring to have.
Joe is straight up creepy. If you’ve finished the series, then you know that Joe isn’t the stereotypical boy-next-door. Yes, he’s charming, but he’s also an obsessive stalker who kills anyone that gets in his way of being with Beck. That seems like enough to raise some red flags for viewers, but there are those who seem to be romanticizing the horrible things Joe does throughout the show.
There is nothing romantic or attractive about a murderer. Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer are arguably two of the most notorious names in recent American history. Collectively, the two killed almost 50 people. Let’s get this out of the way: Dahmer and Bundy did was reprehensible, but we let their legacies thrive in a glamorized fashion.
We are continually fed this idea that these people are just misunderstood, incomprehensibly complex people who also happen to have a strange pull to dark behaviors.
This is the same thing people are doing with Joe Goldberg.
These ideas that what Joe did was for love, and that he was misunderstood, put both men and women in an extremely dangerous position. When younger people start thinking this behavior is okay, it will start becoming more and more common.
If you watched the series and found yourself defending Joe’s disturbing and violent actions, you completely missed the point of the show. The show does a great job at making Joe seem harmless while his disturbing thoughts are running at 100 miles per hour. But that’s the point: dangerous people don’t always look scary, and the consequences that come from these thoughts are immense.