Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Why Do We All Love the Bad Boys? (And yes, Lucius Malfoy IS SEXY)!

Photo: Warner Bros
I would never marry the proverbial Bad Boy. I rarely dated them, ahem. 
But in fiction? On film? Sexy villains, Regency rakes, suave con men and fist-first, talk-later beefcake boys? Love ‘em. 
Why is that? 
Well, I have a few theories.

Photo: Twentieth Century Fox
1.  Throw you against a wall sex. Yes, you read that right. Everything about the Bad Boy screams, “In bed I’ll be the guy who is totally happy to have you every way there is and make you like it.” Spike and Buffy, anyone? They wrecked the freaking HOUSE.

2.  The allure of the forbidden. We all want what we can’t have. Women, especially, are told to be “good” from a young age. It’s not bad advice. Going against what society considers to be good behavior for women can have disastrous results: unplanned pregnancy, disease, rape, poverty...NOT BEING LIKED. (More on that another time). But breaking the rules? There are thrills in that. There’s fear in that. There’s really awesome sex in that. (Do you see a trend here)?

Photo: MGM
3.  Bad Boys don’t expect you to be good. You’re not going to disappoint them when you screw up. Unless you have a weakness for the honorable bad boy, in which case, sorry, you’re screwed (but hopefully, well). When Catherine Banning doesn’t trust Thomas Crown enough to go with him at first in The Thomas Crown Affair, he doesn’t hold it against her. He understands human foibles. Okay, he’s one of those honorable bad boys, I know. Did I mention I have a weakness for those? Oh, yeah. Which brings me to...

4.  The promise of redemption. Yes, I know. You’re not supposed to try and change a man. But let’s be real. The allure of the reformed rake, or the bad boy made good is POWERFUL. There’s a saying that men want an angel for the daytime and a whore at night. It’s not just men. We want it, too. But when you’re looking at that fine, upstanding man, the noble hero, it can be harder to see the potential for throw you against a wall sex. At the moment I can’t think of one character who exudes both a mainstream, stand-up guy image and the bad boy in the bedroom image. I’m sure it’s a failure of my imagination. You’ll all help me out here, right? Name some super hot, wild man heroes for me, would you? 
Oh, and turn up the air conditioning. It’s getting rather warm in here.


  1. Oh, Jenn, your failure of the imagination in point four is a classic problem with one dimensional characterization. In real life, people are more complicated than that.

    To get to the reformed stage, you have to pass out of adolescence. And by that I mean into adulthood. Which, oddly, isn't all that fun.

  2. David, lol. You are certainly correct about one dimensional characterization. But, I should clarify. I don't mean that the character doesn't have that aspect to them, just that it isn't apparent at first glance. Discovering such things about characters is part of the fun of moving through a story.

  3. Oh, but now I'm thinking about the reformed thing. Passing out of adolescence is a major literary theme. That kind of growth is compelling, and perhaps another reason we love those rakish dudes. Bigger journeys have greater drama.

  4. And then there is always the journey out of adulthood proper and into adulthood-lite. Which is quite fun. Totally recommended.

  5. "Adulthood-lite." I'm totally adopting that philosophy.

  6. It's easy: just pay your bills and raise your kids (if you have any) and let the smiths keep up with the joneses.