It’s no secret that building up a celebrity, adoring them, then kicking them off of their pedestal and watching them fall has been a classic American cultural pastime. The list is endless. From it girls like Lindsay Lohan and Pamela Anderson to Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence, the process is nearly identical in every instance.
A star exhibits a captivating persona, enjoys a limited time in the public’s warm embrace, goes through a few missteps, then tumbles to shame—sometimes quite literally, as Lawrence’s demise came after a second fall at the 2014 Oscars, which led the public to find her quirkiness calculated and insincere. Nearly a decade later, the actress is only beginning to revamp her image, not unlike Anne Hathaway, who’s had a resurgence after her popularity previously plummeted, also for being ‘cringe’.
The obvious link here is that all of these stars are women. Unless involved in a major scandal, and even sometimes then, à la Hugh Grant, male movie stars generally remain untouched and protected, with long, lustrous careers. It begs the question, will the tides ever turn?
He’s “Daddy,” he’s your hot teacher, he’s the sexy guy in front of you in line at the market… And no one has been spared. Pedro Pascal has taken hold of the collective psyche in a way seemingly reserved for him. His easygoing persona plays off of the intense roles he’s played in HBO’s The Last of Us, Game of Thrones and The Mandalorian over on Disney+.
Pascal’s effortless charm and sex appeal, paired with his innate sense of humour, have gifted the internet with some of the most viral and beloved interview moments. The 48-year-old appeal spans genders and generations alike. But could this be the perfect set-up for Pascal to be unceremoniously dropped from the public’s good graces? Or can the mania be sustained?
An experience unique to male stars only, Pascal’s glorification began at the age of 47. Most women who have inevitably ended up suffering cultural collapse had been in their 20s (or even younger) when their first rose to a similar level of infatuation. It’s very unlikely for a female star to reach this level of obsession in her late 40s.
After all, while ageism antagonises, youth makes for an easy target. Nothing draws the public’s pitchforks like a narrative of success coming easily, without time or hard work. This, in turn, makes men like Pascal stand out as someone with the experience of working in the industry for a respectable two decades, with notes of an underdog narrative.
Clips of past roles like his vampire character on Buffy the Vampire Slayer have gone viral along with inviting and heartwarming moments like his reaction to Buffy star Sarah Michelle Gellar remembering Pascal from the small role. So wholesome!
Pascal’s charisma seems to stem from a deep sense of confidence and ease in his own skin, a quality which usually comes with age. When he’s not taking an interview or red carpet too seriously, it reads as genuine. The actor can afford to make jokes and be silly because we all believe that he has an honest, solid foundation, as opposed to the aforementioned Lawrence or the zany Zooey Deschanel.
Could this validity provide him with complete imunity from dissection of his persona? Is it, dare I say, sincere?
Pascal has landed some of the most envious roles in current Hollywood. They’ve been big-budget franchise shows like The Mandalorian, endearing him to the Star Wars fanbase. In The Last of Us, he plays the father of fellow Game of Thrones alum Bella Ramsey, tugging on the audience’s heartstrings.
Even his pre-fame roles in shows like Law and Order only add to his tender appeal. Pascal has undeniable star quality, talent and savvy for choosing roles. Yet, building adoration based on characters has inherent risk. One flop could cause a stumble that leads to a slump, and, ultimately, a hard descent.
The mystery around Pascal’s sexuality has provided a provocative focus as he’s neither confirmed nor denied his identity. Regardless, he’s professed strong support as an LGBTQ+ ally, particularly for his trans sister Lux, endearing him to the queer community too. An unfortunate reality is the still-precarious nature of coming out in Hollywood and the potential isolation of the conservative audience.
In an era filled with divisive masculinity, the actor’s appearance on the scene has been refreshing, particularly to progressive individuals in the Latinx community. His protest of the traditional machismo identity and values breaks open new possibilities for male-identifying people and beyond. Being Chilean-American, it’s a pretty big deal.
Pascal toys with modern masculinity in his style and ideologies, wearing a pussy bow blouse for his monologue on Saturday Night Live and supporting women protesting inequality in Mexico City. While American feminism has reached an all-time low in relevance and, ultimately, trendiness, Pascal is fearlessly helping to shape what it means to be a modern man.
As we welcome back once-shunned celebrities into our good graces, it’s not without the understanding of our viciousness. Does seeing where we went wrong with stars like Britney Spears open us to being a more accepting culture, fighting the once rabid urge to tear a star down? Only time will tell.
For now, Pascal is immune to ageism and armed with a stable, lovable public persona. It feels safe to say the captivation will continue. No one can be marked completely off-limit, but for the foreseeable future, he will remain our “cool slutty daddy.”