Art

Can a vigilante be an anti-hero?

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Even though, You and Eileen cannot be accommodated in the same aisle, there’s a sense of shared trauma in both the works.

Our love for vigilantes has no bounds. We live in a happy bubble thinking that there’s somebody out there who’s making the world a better place to breathe. And that’s why we adore our comic book superheroes so much. We keep cheering them on while they move from strength to strength trying to fight the evil men in the society. We don’t do it ourselves because we don’t like getting our hands dirty. But how do you judge a hero who’s also a villain in many stories? I’m talking about Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) in Netflix’s latest sensation, You.

The second season hit the streaming platform last month and people seem to have lapped it up immediately. And since memes are de rigueur, they’ve been flooding the social media sites since day one. The plot points haven’t gone in a different direction this time, which make several scenes appear as though they were lifted from the first season, but the new installment dives deeper into what made Joe choose the murderous path. The flashback episode isn’t narrated in a single uncut-piece. It’s rather chopped into tiny bits and sprinkled throughout the ten-episode season so that Joe’s childhood gets revealed in parts. Amazon Prime’s Made in Heaven used this method of storytelling to show how Tara (Sobhita Dhulipala), a middle-class employee, ended up getting married to a rich businessman (played by Jim Sarbh), and, stepped into the shocking echelons of the elite.

Can a vigilante be an anti-hero?

In You, the viewers get a clear picture about how Joe was tortured by his father when he was young. His mother was beaten black and blue by his dad every day and that made him pick up the gun to put a full stop to it. Hence, now in his adulthood, he feels a certain kind of responsibility towards teenagers. He’s gone through the drill before, so he doesn’t want other teenagers to suffer his fate. However, his moral understanding of the good and the bad end there. Even in the second season, he puts a man in a cage and steals his identity (he takes his name Will Bettelheim) as Candace (Ambyr Childers), his ex-girlfriend, comes back from the dead to expose him.

When he accidentally kills a celebrity, in Los Angeles, who preys on teenaged girls (the celeb drugs them and takes their pictures), he considers himself to be a true hero even if he doesn’t say so himself. He thinks he’s protecting his 15-year-old neighbor (played by Jenna Ortega) and numerous other kids. What he doesn’t fathom, nevertheless, is that he’s a murderer himself. His victims are just not unsuspecting adolescents! Though You, which is based on Caroline Kepnes’ novel Hidden Bodies, is a thriller, a major chunk of the season focuses on the budding romance between Joe and Love (Victoria Pedretti).

Can a vigilante be an anti-hero?

Ottessa Moshfegh’s 2016 novel, Eileen, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, is a thriller at its heart. But, in a similar way, it begins with the mundane life that its eponymous protagonist is living. Set in the 1960s, Eileen’s work in the prison for the juveniles is mingled with the dull chores she does at home. When she befriends her new co-worker, Rebecca, in the latter portions, the story takes a turn wherein she gets involved in a high-risk ploy to get a confession from a mother of a teenager who helped her husband rape their only son. In fact, the mother goes out of her way to make things work for all of them instead of taking action. She feels contended that her husband comes back to her bed refreshed and doesn’t regret the hardships she puts her child through.

Can a vigilante be an anti-hero?

Here, Rebecca and Eileen aren’t like Joe. They belong to a kid-friendly, girls-next-door group, and they simply want the mother to pay for her sins. They’re not women who’ve been on a killing spree throughout their adulthoods either. Even though, You and Eileen cannot be accommodated in the same aisle, there’s a sense of shared trauma in both the works.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2020 6:48:59 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/art/can-a-vigilante-be-an-anti-hero/article30523120.ece

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