The internet’s so-called “daddy,” Pedro Pascal, but does he approve of the name himself? Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore.
MADDIE WOOD | OPINION COLUMNIST | firstname.lastname@example.org
In today’s society, it is not uncommon to get online and see a new celebrity that the internet has determined to be the object of their desires. Usually, this starts after red carpet events where a particular star is dressed in their best attire; the internet will erupt over them and their stunning looks until a new celebrity emerges for them to obsess over.
There is nothing wrong with admiring and appreciating how someone in the spotlight looks, or how they give an award-winning performance in a new film or television show. There is a fine line, though, that many fans can’t identify and often cross.
Senior biochemistry major Detonyea Dickson discussed the trouble with toeing this line.
“It definitely gets into the topic of whether you’re sexualizing them or appreciating them,” Dickson said. “It [can] almost cross into objectification [as well].”
The obsession comes with unnecessary sexualization, which many people, especially minors, can’t seem to identify. Idolizing these older celebrities — especially men — can create dangerous and toxic parasocial relationships that younger teens don’t quite recognize. These men can be anywhere from 20 to even 50 years their senior. The strong feelings that these fans have can take a quick and severe turn if not taken into consideration.
Payton Albregts, a middle/secondary English education major pointed out where this obsession can become odd for younger teens to idolize and sexualize these older men.
“It [can] transcend from [older celebrities] to [older men] in real life, and that could end in really inappropriate relationships,” Albregts said. “I think it’s innocent now, but it could get [to] where there’s an increase in teenage relationships with older men.”
On the opposite side, it can also be extremely uncomfortable for these men to be sexualized by young teens — especially minors. Most of these older celebrities have children who are around the same age as these young fans, which must be a very unpleasant situation for these celebrities to navigate.
It needs to be acknowledged that this issue of over-sexualizing is more prevalent in female celebrities and more explored, but the same issue is often overlooked in the over-sexualization of men. The over-sexualization of men has been pretty constant in the past few years, but it hasn’t been actually noticed by many people. In particular, TikTok serves as a platform where thirst edits of celebrities can easily go viral. These videos range from said celebrities performing actual sexual acts in scenes as their characters, to something as simple as rolling their head back or sitting in a chair. It’s become such a normalized act that no one thinks twice about it — that doesn’t mean it’s okay.
This increasingly frequent complacency to this content makes it easy to forget that celebrities are on the internet just as much as we are. They have the same ability to log on and see every comment, post, edit, thirst tweet or anything else people want to say about them.
Pedro Pascal has been the latest male celebrity to fall victim to this vicious cycle, where he did initially play into this idea of him being the internet’s “daddy” and using the title for himself multiple times. Unfortunately, his idea of playing into the bit did not translate very well, as some of his fans took it upon themselves to go even further with sexualizing him.
Senior multilingual studies major Mary Griffin touched on the idea of celebrities acknowledging the internet’s obsession with them just as Pascal has.
“I think it’s a [difficult] toeing the line thing,” Griffin said. “Being in [Pascal’s] position, where everybody is sexualizing whatever you do, [there’s the question of] do you recognize it, do you play into it, do you reject it? It’s probably a weird place for a public figure to be in anyways.”
Recently, on the red carpet at the premiere of the new season of Pascal’s show “The Mandalorian,” he was asked by an interviewer to read thirst tweets people made about him. Pascal is seen awkwardly laughing it off, reading them to himself, and when asked to read them out loud he says he will not.
One could make the argument that it’s okay to sexualize men due to the over-sexualization that women face as well. To this I say, why are we sexualizing strangers at all? There is no reason that these men should be uncomfortable at red carpet premieres of their biggest successes because they are getting inappropriate tweets shoved into their faces.
The sort of damage this can do to someone is astronomical. Celebrities choose to put their lives in the public eye and choose to do roles where they may have a sexual scene, but that does not welcome the internet to twist it into something that it never was meant to be.
Being sexualized can have a lot more harmful effects than people would probably assume. Over-sexualization can be a large contributor to rape culture, especially when parasocial feelings and obsession take over. All celebrities want to do is be known for the things they choose to put out into the world, whether that be a fantastic movie or a heart-warming song, and they work hard to make their names known for whatever their career path is. Being objectified and over-sexualized is dehumanizing, and it takes away from the actual hard work and passion they put into their jobs.
Nobody wants to be sexualized and objectified with every move they make. Nobody appreciates that feeling, and these celebrity men are no different. They never asked to be made into an edit by young teens who simply find them attractive and take it too far unknowingly. We all should be more conscious of what we post and how we speak about others, especially celebrities since all they want to do is their job.
These celebrities don’t deserve this sort of treatment from their so-called “fans,” and in fact, nobody deserves it. Issues like this have to be talked about otherwise it will continue to grow and get worse and worse if left unchecked, and create more of a gateway for things like this to be more normalized. Objectification and sexualization are too common in our society, and we all should take a step back to acknowledge how our seemingly harmless comments and posts can actually be part of the issue we try to solve every day.