‘Pearl’ and the need for love in the digital age


Christopher Moss

Mia Goth in Pearl (2022). Photo by Christopher Moss | Origin Picture Show LLC

Bridan Braun, Reporter

The prequel to “X” was finally released, and it was truly frightening, just not in the way I expected.

Unlike the slasher film “X,” “Pearl” — set 60 years before the events in X— is a character study about a young girl who just wanted to be loved. And she would do whatever it took to get that love.

Pearl dreamed of being a star as a form of escapism from her reality of taking care of her sick father under her mother’s watchful eye. She donned her mother’s dresses, practiced her dancing and performed for farm animals that were safe from her rage as long as they paid her proper attention.

Pearl’s kills were personal. They were full of rage and sorrow, and they were directed toward anyone who doubted her or dared to get in the way of her path to stardom.

Her mother disapproved of her dreams, her father’s illness was too much of a burden, the projectionist she slept with didn’t like her enough, and her sister-in-law knew too much about her. These were all reason enough for Pearl to justify her actions in viciously ending their lives.

However, the scariest thing about Pearl is that she reflects the desires of a generation that is obsessed with the need to be noticed. The only thing that makes her different from any one of us is her homicidal tendencies.

In the age of TikTok, it’s easier and more accessible than ever to achieve virality and garner an audience. We see influencers who started off posting silly videos of themselves, and now have millions of followers and brand deals that fund their expensive lifestyles.

This was what Pearl was after. A life in which the love she received from the masses was able to replace the need for familial and romantic love. The adoration she felt for the girls in the movies she watched was something that she sought after for herself.

And at the end of the day, isn’t that what each of us is looking for when we post on social media? Every time we make a post, we’re performing for our followers. The likes and comments we get are validation that we’re good enough, we’re attractive enough, we’re funny enough, people like us. If we didn’t want to be seen and we weren’t searching for that validation, then we wouldn’t be posting at all. We would be keeping the moments we document for ourselves.

In Pearl’s final performance during the credit scene, she can be seen gazing at the audience with a huge smile plastered on her face, while her cheeks twitch and tears begin to fall from her eyes. Behind her smile, you can see just how desperately she longs for us to love and accept her.

This sort of desperation can be dangerous. It can drive us to say and do things that we would not normally do in order to get attention, and it can even drive Pearl to kill.

The post credit scene promises another addition to the X franchise. “MaXXXine” will follow the lone survivor of X, an adult film star with a hunger for fame to rival even Pearl. It will be interesting to see what MaXXXine does with the stardom that Pearl was willing to kill for.