Season 3 of “You” pleads against performative activism
When it comes to Netflix You, a few key themes are synonymous with the television series: obsession, love (?), possession and, you guessed it, murder. Season 3 brought more startling twists thanks to two frenzied characters, of course, but also touches the unexpected.
The third season features the character of Sherry Conrad, played by a skillful and nuanced Shalita Grant. For the first half of the season, Sherry and her minions have every intention of isolating Love, the impeccable Victoria Pedretti. As the show goes on, Sherry becomes a more sympathetic element, but her initial character, who makes Love worse, and Joe (none other than Penn Badgley) likely does the same for the viewer.
The mother blogger is characterized first of all by an obvious self-satisfaction and a perfectly groomed team of devoted followers. Sherry also acts as an embodiment of surface social media activism and performative activism, a term to describe supporting a cause to increase your social capital and reputation, without actually doing the work involved in creating one. significant change.
Let me explain. When Love claims her first victim, neighbor Natalie Englor (Michaela McManus), Sherry takes over the search committee, becoming the public face of the cause. It could be seen as altruistic if she didn’t actively dislike the victim prior to her disappearance, gossiping openly and complaining about Natalie. In the first episode, Sherry and her lackeys tell Love that Natalie is “a bad person,” “a cheater,” and look at her with disdain on the whole.
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There are also other cases. At a press conference outside Natalie’s house, Sherry takes center stage, telling a reporter and viewers to follow their cause on a plethora of social platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Insta, Snapchat, TikTok, and Tumblr . The reporter notes that the research appears to be important to Sherry.
“Oh my god that’s my number one priority. Natalie was my dearest and closest friend, ”she said with affected emotion.
Looking at the news channel on his phone at work, Joe thinks with disgust, “She hated she, “just as Sherry puts it on the air,” We love her.”
You just have to want to personally alert Sherry to the reality of the situation. It shouldn’t be about her.
Later, at a high-profile research party (of which Sherry also manages to be the star child), she utters some moving words. Sherry feigned a breakdown, wiping her eyes and pausing for a reaction from a vigilant crowd, lukewarm applause. Love seems to see through this shallow display, closing its eyes and offering its characteristic look of contempt. A lot can be said about Love, but it’s not exactly wrong.
Throughout these brief vignettes of Natalie Engler’s story, the writers focus on an all-too-familiar sight: someone grabbing another’s tragedy for sympathy and social media purposes. Sherry also manages to center herself in the heart of the tragedy, prioritizing her emotional response to the victim’s family. In other words, it was a selfish endeavor, going beyond just being a fake character.
With this scenario, Sherry is a realization of performative activism.
Performative activism gained momentum in our collective consciousness, especially during the Black Lives Matter movement, in which social media users called out those who did not display a true alliance. Businesses and individuals have been called in for these postings, with criticism directed at those seeking approval and praise for lackluster gestures.
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For most viewers, I guess Sherry’s intentions are transparent. Her character speaks of a bigger message: the rise of those who come together for a cause in order to benefit themselves, not the cause itself. In Sherry’s case, her actions are purely a way to increase her power. In doing so, the grief and trauma of the Engler family is both minimized and put aside.
Perhaps the most telling moment in the Sherry saga is when Natalie’s stepson Theo (Dylan Arnold) calls Sherry into the woods during the search. He and Love catch Sherry openly slandering the Engler family, pretty much sealing her pseudo-activist position.
“Everyone knows what you’re doing,” Theo spits out. “You’re trying to cash in on someone else’s tragedy, then you can sell your vegan panties – get all those fucking likes on your Instagram.”
That’s just it, isn’t it? In Sherry’s case, inciting the community and advocating for Natalie to be found were purely ways to increase power. For her, this moment of “activism” was an opportunity, a chance to appear in a certain way in the public eye and to gain even more favor in the community.
Sherry’s behavior is symbolic of what performative activism does, in that it undermines the cause in question. Instead, the focus should be on the victim, ensuring that they are heard and that their needs are met. A path to justice like this should focus on healing and transformation, both at the individual and community level.
Theo’s outburst and the suppressed desperation for the truth by Natalie’s husband Matthew Engler (Scott Speedman) are indicative of the weight of tragedy on them. The latter is accused of being Natalie’s murderer, later acquitted, but never really had time to process. Still, Sherry’s search drew publicity for itself and unwanted eyes on the family. It wasn’t Natalie or the Englers at all.
In this story, You makes a strong case for keeping the privacy, desires, and space of those at the center of a sacred cause, without making another person unhappy on yourself. Rather, true activism would center a distinctive altruism, placing the stories and voices of those affected at the heart of the way forward.