Romanticizing Evil

 

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What is it about the bad boys/girls?  Why are some people attracted to what they should instinctively know is bad for them?  Why are predatory, controlling, narcissists romanticized for entertainment value?  Unfortunately, I do not have the answers to these questions…only more questions.  It is a disturbing trend I have noticed in the last decade or so.   I recently saw a trailer for a new show on Netflix called YOU.  The trailer shows a stalker pouring over his next victims social media.  The narration is powerful and somewhat intoxicating, and I quickly clicked off of it, because I knew where it was going.  Same old story girl meets boy, gets stalked, controlled, tortured and killed.  I have made an effort to be careful what I watch, what sort of content I allow to occupy and program my brain.  But then I read a post on facebook raving about the show and equating it’s main character Joe to Dexter.  So I decided to watch after all.  I liked the show Dexter, we’ll get more into that in a bit.  The writing and narration in YOU are superb, but the content as I first had feared is most disturbing.  It is entertaining in a macabre way.  But what disturbs me most is that the main character Joe, a mentally ill, predatory stalker, and killer has fans, lots of fans.  That’s right…there are some, and a lot of them are young girls, who think Joe is the bees knees.  WTF?! How is stalking, and killing, for whatever reason hot, or romantic?  Because Joe is intelligent, slick, and has a couple of altruistic penchants some are willing to overlook his killing ways.  Even the actor Penn Badgley is shocked at the amount of adulation his psycho character is receiving.  Lets be clear, Dexter is nothing like Joe.  Dexter used his dark passenger to mete out justice where the system failed to.  He only killed those who truly had it coming, with the exception of those who got too close to catching him.  While Dexter could be charming, the series was careful to show his lack of emotion and empathy.  I worry that shows, books (50 Shades of Grey), are being created and written that glamorize, and romanticize predators.  Even psychopaths that aren’t killers (the vast majority) still leave landslides of emotional abuse and wreckage in their wakes.  Instead of glamorizing and romanticizing we should be teaching our sons and daughters what warning signs to watch out for.  They need to learn when further investigation is appropriate, and when to walk, if not run for the hills.  Of course, that’s not the responsibility of the entertainment industry, but at what point do they have to bare some responsibility for the harm their content can and does cause.  Why can’t we have shows similar to YOU that show a smart young woman who realizes the danger and escapes it while bringing her stalker/killer to justice? A show that shows the bad guy as a bad guy and shows the red flags to look for to flesh him out?  I would like to see in the next season of YOU the tables turned on Joe by Candace, who he clearly thought was dead.  At best we can view these type of shows, books, movies as teachable moments.  We should as parents watch with, pause to explain or wait till the end and have conversations about content.  That’s our job, but we can’t be there 100% of the time and the likelihood of our youth viewing something like this and forming the wrong opinion is a real threat.  Media, shapes us, and not always in the best ways.  We must be vigilant, and like with all things we vote with our dollars.  If we feel something is truly harmful we don’t have to watch, we don’t have to let our kids watch, if we can help it, and if they do, it is up to us to make sure they have all the right information to form valid, healthy opinions.