By Jhanvi Shah
In Netflix’s new thriller series ‘YOU’ the audience is met with a stalker, Joe Goldberg, loosely based on the notorious serial killer Ted Bundy, and Guinevere Beck (commonly known as Beck), the unfortunate victim who happened to chance upon Joe in a bookstore where he worked.
The narrative unfolds with Joe stalking Beck relentlessly and forcefully inserting himself into her life for her to see him as a potential romantic interest. Joe uses sinister methods including murder for Beck to see him as what she needs.
Both the characters have been portrayed in a painstakingly realistic manner owing to their traumatic childhood. These attributes have garnered mixed reviews from the public all over.
The public has deemed Joe as the romantic and sinister sociopath who goes to extreme lengths to eliminate Beck’s problems. He views Beck as a damsel in distress whom the world is out to get. However, Beck is an independent being who is capable of making her own decisions.
Besides providing the obvious entertainment, the show also sheds concern over various problematic social concerns that today’s youth is facing.
The Notion of Hypermasculinity
The segregation of men and women since birth has largely been classified on the basis of masculinity and femininity. Especially in the Indian society where men are told adopt the persona of a so-called “mard”.
The most common definition of a “mard” in India is that of an alpha male who is in complete control of his surroundings and self and has the responsibility of making important decisions concerning the women of his house.
Moreover, it also encourages men to be dominant and gain power at all costs.
A manifestation of this type of masculinity was depicted by Joe who controlled Beck’s interaction with people and relationships with force, manipulation, and murder and victimized her to the point of objectification.
Hypermasculinity arises when men sense the need to boost their own ego in an attempt to gain respect by standing up for the opposite gender. Such archetypes perceive themselves as the solution to every problem in society.
Also, the series indicates concern regarding boundaries in a relationship in terms of privacy and personal space. Where do the gestures stop leaning towards romantic intent and become sinister and obsessive.
The Problem With Romanticizing Dangerous Characters
Throughout Indian cinema, the male protagonist is seen as a hero who swoops in and relentlessly pursues the female character in hopes that she would eventually reciprocates his feelings.
The hero in the process adopts questionable methods such as low key stalking, invading her life through social media to a point where she is forced to submit.
Moreover, negative characters in cinema are sexualized by the way of their charm, looks, and intelligence to appeal to the female population.
Hence, the public is immune and somewhat desensitized to the crimes they commit, as it is generally in the name of love and owing to their traumatic childhood designed to garner empathy from the people. For example, Ted Bundy confessed to receiving fan mail, mainly women expressing romantic intent.
The Issue of Consent
In today’s age and time with the evolution of pop culture in mainstream media, certain phrases such as “hard to get”, “I’m in it for the chase” and “she’s asking for it” have become wildly popular as a justification for a pursuit.
Such phrases are deeply problematic and are the cause of serious misunderstandings and assumptions. If one is resistant to someone’s advances, they are playing hard to get and if someone is dressed in a certain manner they are a tease and secretly want it.
The adverse effects of such assumptions and misunderstandings result in the pursuit of women without their consent which borderlines harassment. Such behavior is grounds for a violation, something which many absolutely fail to grasp.
This issue of sexualizing and empathizing with characters such as Ted Bundy and Joe Goldberg needs to be done away with. This archetype of a” bad boy” exterior originating from the 18th century needs to change.
Such dangerous characters should not be glorified in the name of romance, and most importantly it’s time that the society realizes women are capable of making their own decisions without the presence of a masculine virile male to guide them.
Image Credits: Google Images