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The Daddyfication of Pedro Pascal

Updated: Jan 27

Sexualising Men in Online Spaces

By Anonymous

A person tying on their phone, only their arms, hands and upper body are visible.
Image courtesy of Priscilla du Preez on Unsplash

If you are one of the blessed few whose algorithms have not transformed into an amalgamation of Pedro Pascal/ The Last of Us edits, let me give you an overview.

The videos you will encounter will likely be in one of these three categories: thirst traps of Pedro Pascal (the actor), thirst traps of Pedro Pascal (as Joel Miller), or absolutely heart-wrenching edits of Joel and Ellie (the main characters of The Last of Us and a father - adoptive daughter duo). Despite being seemingly harmless, the first two kinds of videos always make me incredibly uncomfortable and I wanted to explore where that discomfort stems from.

We all know celebrity culture is weird. Parasocial relationships are weird, and the ethics involved in them are complicated. We often forget that celebrities are real people too and that consent, despite the distance between you and the celebrity, is not optional. When making a thirst trap, or writing a horny tweet about a real person people forget that they are just that - a real person, who could in theory see and read these. And a person who has not asked to be sexualised in that way. Yet, doing things like that is so normalised that there’s even a Buzzfeed video series about it (Celebrities Reading Thirst Tweets). Some might argue that being a celebrity means that being sexualised online is just a part of your job, and that you agree to it by virtue of having this job, but that is simply not true. As an actor your job is to act and to promote your work, being a public figure does not mean that your image too, is public property. This becomes even clearer when you consider the stuntman Adam Basil who played a bloater zombie in episode 5. He’s received a lot of sexual comments from fans and he hasn’t even shown his face or body in the actual show.

While Pedro Pascal has implicitly said that he doesn’t mind people sexualising him - he’s called himself the internet’s daddy and admitted he watches edits of himself when he feels down - there is a difference between what you say in recorded interviews and unequivocal consent. Replying to questions about being sexualised by nonchalantly agreeing or leaning into the sexualisation of one’s person could simply be a way to deal with and react to this lack of consent. I don’t think that that’s the case here, but my point is, we can’t be sure.

There is also another aspect to the question of consent that often gets overlooked and that is the consent of people consuming content sexualising these actors.

As an ace person I did not ask to see thirst traps of (anyone really, but specifically) people who have not consented to being edited, yet my algorithm thinks that me liking The Last of Us must mean that I’ll enjoy actors on my FYP edited in sexually suggestive ways.

Believe it or not, but I would much rather not have Pedro Pascal licking someone’s hand or saying flirtatious things (in character) on my phone screen. People who make thirst traps of themselves or others, whether consensually or not, often disregard the lack of consent on the part of their potential viewers. On apps like TikTok or Instagram, you are not always in control of what you will see next and therefore your only chance to consent would be in a disclaimer by the content creator, which I’ve only ever seen once before and really appreciated!

Unsurprisingly, I think there’s a gendered component to this as well. When Scarlett Johansson played Black Widow in the MCU, she was treated similarly by journalists and fans. Interviewers would ask her questions about her underwear and her character was edited in plenty of thirst traps. Unlike Pedro Pascal’s treatment, the general feeling tends to be that the way the press treated her was not okay. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying women are being sexualised less than men nowadays. However, I do think that there is a gendered expectation that men should somehow like being sexualised more because they are supposed to want sex more.

In reality, we should afford men and women the same dignity by not reducing them or the characters they play to sexual objects.

There is also, I think, a difference between sexualising an actor as a character, and a character themselves (there’s nuance, shocker, I know). I believe there are ways to make thirst traps of a character as played by an actor without sexualising the actor himself, for example by focussing on the character’s behaviour rather than their body (which is coincidentally the body of a real person). Similarly, you can make all the comments you want about how Joel is a DILF without implicitly calling Pedro Pascal one. In my opinion, it really only becomes unambiguously icky when you sexualise the actor specifically in online spaces.

Of course, there is an argument to be made that even sexualising the character is on some level wrong because you are condensing the richness of a character and their story to their sexiness. And yes, I’m talking about how people are calling Joel/ Pedro Pascal ‘baby girl’ when those words have huge significance in the plot of the game and the show. However, before you roll your eyes and turn the page with a sigh of ‘It’s not that deep’, I should probably disclose that all of this is coming from the mouth of somebody who has a ‘go piss baby girl’ poster with Pedro Pascal’s face on it in their bathroom.

Maybe it’s not that deep, but maybe, just maybe we should think about how to be more considerate in our treatment of male celebrities online.


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