Bad Boys: Whatcha Gonna Do?
May 26, 2002

This whole ramble arises from several strange factors. First is a recent binge of Rurouni Kenshin. I'm quite enjoying it, even if it does make me want to throw an unpleasant amount of "oro"s and gods only know what else into my everyday conversation. The other main influence is an old conversation I stumbled over, in which a friend and I discussed the role of the bad boy, anti-hero.

I have to admit, I like to think that I'm not out there enough to fall into the whole obsession with the nasty guy as a reluctant hero. It strikes me as a simple path towards abuse. Girl meets bad boy, falls madly in lust, and tries to reform him, even if she gets battered and abused. Because that man will be worth it.

*rolls eyes* E-yeah. My feeling: if you can't accept a person as they are, don't choose them as a partner. And abuse is just not acceptable.

Yet looking over my present batch of TV shows and just which guys I'm drooling over, it's disturbing to see just who it is. On a side note, keep in mind that for this rant, I'm trying to ignore physical attractiveness and go totally in terms of personality. This is because A, I'm not that comfortable ranting on about my strange group of turn ons, and B, I don't think that many readers will want that much information. If you're really that curious, you have to catch me in the properly mellow and/or gossipy mood on IM.

So. Right now we're looking at three guys: Jim from The Sentinel, Brooklyn from Gargoyles, and Sano from Rurouni Kenshin. I like to think it's the angst that ties them all together. No one, but NO ONE, angsts like Jim; Brook just can't seem to get a break; and Sano's got so many issues that he spends his time wandering around beating up people for fun (albeit with protection as a somewhat ulterior motive)- with, of course, a severe vengeance complex. When it comes to TV and potential fic characters, nothing is better than angst. It makes for so many great stories. And no, I don't think I'm this evil when it comes to real life guys. I hope I'm not. That'd be scary. With that disturbing idea, I'm gonna take a quick detour as to what I suspect is the reasoning behind the whole general obsession with the bad guy.

I think the main reason behind it all is that the Bad Boy is very close to the stereotypical Hero- you know, the Prince Charming that rides down on the white horse to sweep a girl off her feet to the enchanted castle. While I personally would be inclined to beat the crap out of any pompous twit who tried such idiocy with me, there is something to that whole deal. I like to suspect that everyone, not just the females in the audience, wants... well, not the knight protector, but... hurm. How to put it? The defender, I guess. Not necessarily someone who could keep all the bad things away, but someone to watch your back, and help you along while you do your thing. Keeping within the battle terms (too... much... Kenshin! *twitch*), guarding your back while you kick ass, and vice versa.

But that ideal is a rare thing. So rather than looking for someone who can fight with you, people look for the person to fight for them. Hence the Prince bloody annoying Charming complex. However, there's only a very short step from fighting on behalf of someone, and fighting over someone. Being treated as a possession can be seen as just a small step down from being treated as a prized treasure, since either way, someone out there wants you kept safe from the dark, scary world. So we move from Prince Charming to the Bad Boy. After all, underneath the surface, the Bad Boy really IS the Prince, with scruffier clothes and generally cooler hair.

Yes, that last bit was sarcasm and mockery. Well.... except for possibly the hair comment. ;) Back to somewhat serious. It's a matter of protection, and degrees of extreme. What people thrive under is equal, reciprocal protection. They see smothering comfort as something better. The opposite and warped version of this is the abusive ownership. But however you cut it, people want someone else to help them through the dark parts of life.

Looking at my personal collection, I can see how it goes both ways. Jim is referred to as the "blessed protector" by the fandom for a reason, but look how nasty he can get in the interrogation room (at the moment, all that comes to mind is Night Shift where he practically gets abusive on the kid), not to mention the pissy moods in Deep Water (just.... let's not discuss the thing masquerading as chin fuzz) and Prisoner X, where the entire last part of the episode was him kicking @$$. Brooklyn- come on. He's the biker, rocker, sarcastic rebel. The hair, the look, the whole attitude, it's baaaad to the bone. But he's a softie, especially for the ladies (with wings :) ), and gargoyles are the ultimate protectors. Sano is a bit harder to categorize, just because I've only seen what feels like a limited amount, not to mention I'm very unsure about how many of my usual visitors have the vaguest idea of what on earth I'm talking about. Sano has this revenge thing going against the government for being twisty double-faced murdering liars, and gets it out by picking fights with anyone he can- and rates enjoyment by how big a tussle it is. The back of his shirt is printed with the symbol for bad (or possibly evil... the subs have been a little confused about that), he's a gangster and fighter for hire, a general shifty lay about. But he's got a streak of chivalry, both protecting women and helping them out, not to mention the fact I enjoy of knowing that some can protect themselves just fine (Kaoru... prolly one too many whacks on the head got that one through). He fights for a beneficial cause he believes in, and even more admirably, doesn't care it's one many others don't follow, like, or approve of.

So I'm not sure if it's the angst that draws me, the hero, the bad boy, or some strange combination of the three. I hope it's not too much of any particular one, but at least it should provide some thought as to the whys of the bad boy syndrome.


To add some more to this, a friend has brought up a bit more. And I quote:


"I think people (especially females) like to feel that they're needed, that they are powerful enough and capable enough to reform someone. The bad boy is that ultimate challenge (in usually a sexy shell). And the fact that he is tough to the world, but a softie for you is the ultimate of appealing [Norcumi's note: as the great proofreader pointed out, this is indeed most often to get something (sex)]. You don't feel special when you're loved by a saint, you feel common. Besides which when looking for partners you tend to lean towards someone who can take care of himself. The whole darwin concept. If he can't fight for himself, he can't fight for you and he damn sure can't fight for his family: i.e. weaker chance of species survival."


I like these points. The saint one is particularly well worded. Again, it comes down to wanting to be considered precious and special, something to be treasured and protected. It's just that some people think that being completely enveloped in bubble wrap is a good thing. I say, make sure Darwin is happy with BOTH members of a partnership, and they can fend for themselves, and their chosen mate.

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