The Dark, Mysterious Appeal of a Bad Boy: Are We Really Looking for Bad?
It’s a common theme in movies and books that all girls want bad boys. It could be their dark appeal, their devil-may-care attitude, or perhaps they present the ultimate challenge, as if they are something wild and uncontrollable that only you can tame–like the unicorn that is tamable only to virgins (and might just gore anyone else to death).
We’ve certainly seen lots of it recently, especially in teen paranormal romance: in Twilight, Edward’s love for Bella tames his evil blood lust. In Becca Fitzpatrick’s Hush, Hush, Patch’s love for Nora overcomes his desire to harm her, in The Vampire Diaries, both Damon and Stefan struggle with their vampire nature because of their love for Elena. Each of these cases is life and death, where the males border on psychotic in nature (by modern psychological standards, don’t you think?) and yet they will give up their wicked ways for love. All of these are Beauty and the Beast stories, where the male must overcome being the beast in order to win the love of Beauty.
I’ve read these books too! And I gobble them up! In fiction, bad boys are hot. But, seriously, is it the bad boy we want?
In fiction, the bad boy is: moody, aloof, rebellious, dangerous, obsessive, posessive, someone your mother would hate and your father would shoot on site (if he could). In a word, he’s HOT!
In real life, the bad boy is abusive (verbally/physically/emotionally or sexually), has boundary issues, an inability to bond, and is, potentially, a stalker. Dating a person who wants to kill you is beyond rebellion. Someone who actually wants to kill you is psychotic. Why would we want this in real life?
But in fiction, we’re okay with it. We think these guys have to be bad, in some cases lethally so, to keep the story interesting and to make a point. The bad boy is bad in order to demonstrate the poignancy of their transformation when they fall in love with the heroine. Their badness in the beginning of the book highlights the strength of their love for the heroine. (Who is us, the readers/viewers, on some level).
In real life, I’ve never been one to go for bad boys. Perhaps, that’s why I love reading about them! I see their moodiness, their threats, their dangerous glances, and the entire time, I’m thinking “You can’t fool me. You may think you’re bad, but you’re gonna fall for our heroine like a rock off a cliff!” I know the love story is coming, that the bad boy in fiction must be larger than life.
For it’s not the bad we want. Not at all. What we want more than anything is to be loved. We want to be so loved that loving us changes the person who loves us. No matter how hurt he’s been, how imperfect. We read about guys who are so damaged as to become evil. And we want our love to create a total transformation. We want love to achieve alchemy, so that we can turn lead into gold. We want our beauty to tame the most savage beast, because in so doing, it proves how lovable we really are.
Those of us who are romantic at heart love bad boys, not because they’re bad, or because we believe we’re bad, but because we believe love can make a difference. Don’t you think?
How about you? Have you ever fallen for a bad boy in real life? How about in fiction?