Tuesday, January 22, 2019

I Let Myself Drown in Penn Badgley's Stare and I Wouldn't Mind Doing It Again

Penn Badgley is intimidating - not in that scary and frightful way that makes you not want to speak to a person ever again; but in that masterful, say-it-and-I'll-do-what-you-want way. Maybe I'm not explaining it clearly. I don't know how to explain it, really. His stare has taken my breath away.

See, when Penn talks to you, he stares straight into your eyes and deep into your soul until you're basically breathless and lifeless, and you've forgotten what you asked in the first place. And even when he's deep in thought, he holds that stare until you get completely lost in it, so you don't even realize you've been drowning in his gaze. "Oh, no. Was I being rude?", you think to yourself more than once during your short time together, not even noticing that he has already moved on to answering another question. Thank goodness for voice recorders.

At first joking that he doesn't actually read books (to the utter dismay and shock of this girl who has dreamt of finding a writer like Dan Humphrey and Joe Goldberg to complete her life), Penn admits to liking Kurt Vonnegut - or at least liking him as a teenager and in his early 20s. See, despite his face not having aged a day; Penn is now actually a flawless and wrinkle-free 32-year-old married man.

His taste in books has developed since his younger years, he shares, which is more than what I can say for myself as I stuff my copy of 'Ready Player One' deep into the recesses of my backpack in case he can see into it the way he was seemingly seeing into my soul. While Penn reads with the goal of "finding something true", I read to escape the tedious disappointment that is my life. And this is probably the reason why I have found myself so hopelessly enthralled and captivated by 'YOU'. That probably isn't what Penn's life is like, though, being a famous celebrity for the past n years and having done voiceovers for Nintendo '64 games in the past.

Penn cares, and he cares deeply. He acknowledges his fame, but only in passing, brushing it off like it's unimportant and raving instead about how getting - and staying! - married is the craziest thing he has done for love, sharing that he hasn't had a lot of girlfriends in his lifetime and making us all (okay, fine... maybe just me) wish we hadn't had many lovers in the past, either.

Love plays an important part in Penn's being, however. After every romantic trope and every cliche shown in 'YOU', Penn vehemently reminds us that none of that is love. Instead, it is obsession; it is lust; it is infatuation; it is possession; it is manipulation. "Love doesn't take people in that direction," he concludes. "Love is not those feelings that we often associate it with. Love is not sex. That's not love, and we've just equated them completely."

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