Millie Bobby Brown has come under fire for a controversial opinion about the new Netflix show, You.
The premise is simple: Man stalks woman, woman – ignorant of his criminal activity – falls in love with man. It’s a love story made in the deepest, darkest depths of a sociopathic mind, in short. And it’s brilliantly thrilling telly.
You can watch the trailer below:
In case you missed it, the show has sparked a debate over the representation of toxic relationships.
Some viewers have found themselves romanticising the behaviour of Joe Goldberg, the central male protagonist played by Penn Badgley, towards his victim, Guinevere Beck, played by Elizabeth Lail, in an interpretation so dangerous, the actor himself has encouraged audiences to abandon their crushes.
He’s taken to Twitter to point out some truths about the complex character he portrays:
Ditto. It will be all the motivation I need for season 2. https://t.co/fy2hojauDG
— Penn Badgley (@PennBadgley) January 9, 2019
Since, though, fellow Netflix darling, 14-year-old Millie Bobby Brown has weighed in to congratulate the streaming service for bringing us such great TV.
However, she also condoned Joe’s behaviour, saying it’s ‘okay’ because ‘he’s in love with her’.
Millie took to social media to share a video, saying:
So I just started that new show You. He’s not creepy. He’s in love with her, and it’s okay. So I’m obsessed with it, I’m binge-watching it, absolute banger, Netflix.
I know everybody’s going to say, ‘Uh, he’s a stalker, why would you support that?’ No, like, he’s in love with her. And it’s just like, just watch the show and don’t judge me on my opinions.
"He's not creepy, he's in love with her" is she really that stupid lmao pic.twitter.com/0QfMb6pOyb
— cait︽✵︽ 48 (@ivarsforbes) January 15, 2019
Since seeing the video, a number of commentators have responded with their disappointment such a popular public figure would endorse the view it’s ‘okay’ to conduct criminal activity in the name of love.
Disclaimer: It’s not, in the eyes of the law or society’s collective moral compass.
But, it’s important to remember Millie is sharing her opinion on a very public platform at the age of 14. It’s not going to be perfect.
Think back to when you were 14; there aren’t many of us who can honestly say we had the emotional maturity to recognise the good romantic relationships.
At a time when there were so many hormones flying around, you probably spent most of your energy trying to deal with puberty, rather than thinking critically about abusive patterns and red flags.
You were probably too busy writing in your journals about how much you wanted that boy from school to notice you, even though he was, in hindsight, a teen-sized ball of misogyny and testosterone… and toxic masculinity.
We can all, in adulthood, recognise how our views of relationships change – thank God – in our teens and into our twenties, and beyond.
Even in adulthood, societal constructs of love and romance make it hard to differentiate between acceptable behaviour and ‘crazy things people do for love’, Rachel Horman, chair of charity Paladin and a solicitor who specialises in stalking told UNILAD.
It also feeds into a culture of victim-blaming.
Talking about how TV shows represent stalking, Horman said:
I think generally speaking they [stalkers] are portrayed really badly and as a society we do massively confuse romance with stalking.
And I see that all the time with clients that will say, ‘you know, he’s really nice, this guy I’ve met. He won’t let me get the bus from work. He picks me up’. And while that might be nice, it might also be a sign of controlling, potentially.
So it’s very difficult to give a list of behaviours which are unacceptable because obviously it depends on the context of it, doesn’t it? But I do think we confuse it all the time and I think that justifies it in the mind of stalkers.
Horman said she struggles to watch many popular rom-coms because of the damaging behaviour championed as romantic in scripts, from Love Actually and beyond.
So, back to Millie…Maybe she’s only seen episode one. Still, even in the show premier, Joe displays some wildly criminal – and gross – behaviour in his obsession over Beck.
(Again, not okay, legally or ethically, FYI.)
Maybe this is a sign sex and relationship education needs to start earlier, and be better in order to teach young people they deserve better – much, much better – than the Joe Goldbergs of this world.
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A former emo kid who talks too much about 8Chan meme culture, the Kardashian Klan, and how her smartphone is probably killing her. Francesca is a Cardiff University Journalism Masters grad who has done words for BBC, ELLE, The Debrief, DAZED, an art magazine you’ve never heard of and a feminist zine which never went to print.