Penn Badgley sitting in a chair in a nice suit
Penn Badgley isn't a big fan of people conflating him with his serial killer character on 'You.' (Image via Instagram)

Penn Badgley Wants You To Know He’s Not Joe Goldberg From ‘You’

The actor uses social media to highlight important causes, as well as push back against people who romanticize his starring role as a sociopath.

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Penn Badgley sitting in a chair in a nice suit
Penn Badgley isn't a big fan of people conflating him with his serial killer character on 'You.' (Image via Instagram)

The actor uses social media to highlight important causes, as well as push back against people who romanticize his starring role as a sociopath.

Penn Badgley has gained quite a bit of attention for his acting, moreso over the past few years. You may recognize him from his past role as the tumultuous Dan Humphrey from “Gossip Girl,” but more recently, Badgley has garnered our attention for his portrayal of Joe Goldberg in the Netflix television adaption of “You.” For those of us that are familiar with Badgley’s character on the show, we know his seemingly charming persona is rooted in obsession and abuse. While actors certainly aren’t the characters they depict, we sometimes have a hard time distinguishing between the two. Although we can obviously surmise that Badgley is (thankfully) nothing like Joe, his online profile and behavior prove that he’s quite the opposite.

Badgley acknowledges the problematic nature of the characters he plays. He has taken to Twitter many times to shut down the admiration toward Joe and addresses the issues behind the adoration for a pretty bad character. Additionally, he backs many causes online and constantly tweets his support for various activist organizations. He is one excellent example of someone using their platform for good, and it’s time others step up and do the same.

Penn Badgley versus Joe Goldberg

To begin, let’s take a look at his portrayal of Joe Goldberg, and how Badgley’s real life stands in sharp contrast. “You” is an insanely popular series and fans commonly romanticize Joe. While he appears friendly, protective and romantic on the surface, there is no denying that he is well, to put it simply, a crazy murderer. Badgley has addressed this time and time again.

On Twitter, he humorously reproaches fans who fawn over Joe. At first glance, it seems funny and almost jarring to have the star of a show insist on the negative qualities of a character that someone says they adore.

But in reality, this is actually a really important and commendable action. By calling out the fact that Joe is not someone you should be adoring, he’s actually bringing attention to a bigger issue. It may be open to interpretation, but I think the biggest success of his responses is bringing light to Joe’s unhealthy behavior in his relationships. His replies allow us to reflect on our own hidden behaviors and motives. These back-and-forths on Twitter show how harmful relationships can blossom through the cracks of someone’s charm. It’s bringing awareness to real life issues.

There is a lot to unpack with Joe and how he’s nothing to idealize. Badgley appeared on a podcast, linked in a pinned Tweet, to reflect on his character and I highly recommend taking a listen to hear his thoughts on why fans may react a certain way. It’s an excellent interview that summarizes the many issues with Joe Goldberg.

Supporter of Important Causes

Badgley himself is very active when it comes to advocating for numerous organizations and a vast sum of social movements. He is a supporter of many causes, many opposing gender-based violence, racism, deportation and much more. Scroll down his Twitter page for a few minutes and you’ll learn a lot, as he regularly retweets and links to sources about the things he feels strongly about. He takes the time to bring attention to these issues and how you can support them. Not only does he bring awareness by tweeting, but he appears on podcasts and writes too.

One touching story among his tweets, and one that he wrote about, was one revolving around a Guatemalan immigrant who was separated from her daughter, whom he strongly advocated for. This story and the actions that came along with it had thousands of people supporting the family involved, which exemplifies how a using a platform for advocacy can make such a huge difference.

Respectable Use of Social Media

Penn Badgley deserves major respect from fans. It’s refreshing to see someone recognize the problems with a character that has taken his career to a new level. It would be easy for him to see the posts adoring a problematic character, but he takes the time to respond. Not only does he recognize these problems, but he educates fans about them. It’s okay to enjoy the shows he’s in while also acknowledging that his character is not to be romanticized. On a broader note, he is also not afraid to voice his opinion or show support for social causes, which we need to see more of from others with the same platform he has. It allows for more exposure for these movements, which in turn leads to more education and support. 

It can be easy for celebrities to have a large following and not use their platform to speak out for those who do not have a voice. This is not to say that celebrities can’t use their accounts however they choose, but to step up to that responsibility is a move in the right direction. It can be as simple as showing support for an important cause amongst all of their other posts. Unfortunately, standing up and speaking out can unfortunately be a divisive action among a public figure’s fanbase. You may not want to hear one of your favorite people say something that you don’t agree with; however, it’s important to do so because taking a stand can mean so much for someone who is right in the middle of it. When someone with a large platform can back something, those actions speak loudly.

Writer Profile

Lauren Buchko

Michigan State University
Journalism and Media Relations

Hello! I’m Lauren and I have an interest in design and visual media. I love to experience new things and try to make life an adventure.

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