It’s Fun Friday, so let’s have some fun, shall we? And what’s more fun than men?
Some girls like bad boys. You know, those sexy rebels who break all the rules and approach life with a devil-may-care attitude, possibly on a motorcycle, usually wearing leather. For whatever reason, misbehavior really turns them on.
Me? I like bad boys. Sure I do. But not that kind of bad boy. The bad boys I like are more like evil geniuses. Yes, I have a thing for the villain, for the misunderstood antagonist intent on world domination. Or at least local domination.
Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about….
Lost. One of my favorite TV shows ever. Really great, gripping drama there, right? And who is the classic bad boy in this equation? Sawyer, of course. Sawyer is the guy that all the girls fall for, particularly the good girls. I have a wonderful, old-fashioned friend who just loves Sawyer. So is Sawyer the bad boy I love and adore? Nope. Not even close.
As far as I’m concerned, Ben Linus is where it’s at. Yes, Ben! Creepy Ben, the sadistic mastermind behind so much of the drama on The Island. But is he really all that sadistic? Is he actually as evil as everyone makes him out to be? Absolutely not! And I will argue this one with you for days.
See, the thing about Ben that I love so much and the thing that draws me to him is that he is flawed. At the same time, he is single-minded in his mission and dedicated to his definition of authority or a higher power, The Island. Every crazy, messed-up thing he does, he does for The Island. I love a man who has a clear mission and sticks to it for all he’s worth! Nothing gets in his way, nothing stops him from doing what needs to be done. Determination, drive, and dedication. Imagine if that innate intensity was directed into a romance. Aren’t we ladies saying all the time that we want a man who will fight for us and protect us and stand up for us in even the most high-stakes situations?
Okay, another example. One that more people might be on board with. Another of my current favorite obsession TV shows is Smash. And who am I ridiculously in love with on this show? The seedy, obsessive director, Derek Wills. He’s controlling, manipulative, and heartless. … Or is he?
I’ve directed for the theater before. I know what it takes to wrangle a production into shape. I’ve only ever really spearheaded community theater productions. Derek Wills is the prime force in bringing a Broadway musical to fruition. Millions of dollars are hinging on his work along with the lives and careers of countless hopefuls. You’d better believe that he’s going to be as cold and calculating as he has to be to see that happen and that he’ll use every tool in his arsenal to get the job done. Is he evil? Nope, he’s just in charge. You can’t be a normal person and do that job.
Right. So I can hear you balking and disagreeing with me. I bet you think that I’m nuts to have the hots for such despicable characters. Ah, but am I? Ben Linus and Derek Wills may have been designed by their creators to produce a certain amount of repulsion, but guess what? There are other characters out there who I bet you just love that aren’t all that different.
Take the character of John Thornton from the fantastic British mini-series North and South, for example. He’s been touted as the new Mr. Darcy. Women worldwide swoon over his brooding stares and tormented soul. They might be forgetting that he is an iron-fisted factory owner who beats his employees, hires replacement workers when his go on strike, and who ultimately nearly loses everyone’s jobs for them through is inability to keep the factory going in hard times. And he’s not particularly nice to the heroine as he attempts to run from his feelings. But everyone loves him, including me, even though in any other story he would have been a villain.
Now, I will admit one thing in this exploration of what makes me love the really bad boys. In all three of these examples it’s the skill of the actor playing the part that intrigues me the most. I would probably think Ben Linus was creepy too if I met him alone in a dark alley, but Michael Emerson plays him with such panache that he gives me shivers in the good way. Derek Wills is, frankly, an ass. But Jack Davenport plays him with nuance and style, so I’m sold. And Richard Armitage is the master of the dark, brooding hero, no matter how nasty he’s being. It’s all in the packaging. I’m attracted to talent.
At the same time, I like a hero who sticks out from the rest. I write in a genre where all too often you see the same alpha male hunk playing the role of the hero every time. It worked for me in high school, but now it’s just boring. In reality people are flawed. It’s how they deal with those flaws and what they accomplish with them that turns me on. My character Michael West in Our Little Secrets is a good example of this. He’s not your typical alpha male by definition and he’s got a dark past. Even in the course of the novel he doesn’t make the best of choices. But it’s his ultimate dedication to the heroine, his wife-of-convenience, that makes my heart go pitter-pat.
Ultimately I think villainy or heroism depends to a great extent on context. It also depends on the judgments we pass on characters before they’ve been given a chance to defend themselves. We do it all the time in our everyday lives. We rush to conclusions and make assumptions about people’s motivations based on the things we want and the goals we want to achieve. People think Ben was evil because he was in opposition to the folks from the plane. But as I think the writers and producers pointed out through the course of the show, the plane folks were the intruders. And in the end Hurley asked Ben if he wanted to come with them. If that’s not a glowing endorsement then I don’t know what is!
Or maybe, by championing the angry and the misunderstood I’m really just trying to find acceptance and love for myself. Crazy people need love too.
So what about you? What bad boy or unlikely hero floats your boat? Are you willing to admit it?