Don’t we all love a good bad boy?
The success of the Netflix show You has lead to an outcry of the portrayal of bad boys in shows and films. My daughter wrote a really great post on it which really opened my eyes to the possible damage this might be having on young girls.
I then thought about my own childhood, my obsession with the bad boy, the slightly on-edge killer; think The Lost Boys or my obsession with any characters played by Keifer Sutherland or Rob Lowe, not to mention a slice of Ferris Bueller or John Bender in The Breakfast Club. I never rooted for the good guy. And I never really got over this; need I mention Jacs in Sons of Anarchy?
But did this obsession with the bad boy character affect the relationships that I’d chosen? Well, I’ve had my fair share of total disasters I thought I could save; some military, police officers and my husband was wearing a leather jacket when I met him, although he never needed saving ( I did) and he is one of the good guys. Yes, the boys I’d chosen always had a slight edge, but was this me or was it what the media had trained me to want?
I can’t really answer that to be honest and as far as I know I’ve never dated a serial killer or a vampire (even though there were times that I really longed to). I’ve always liked a bit of danger, I score super-high on any risk tests and I’m a pretty all-or-nothing kind of girl so maybe for me I would have always gone down the edgy route. But I was Team Jacab over team Edward that creepy watching me while I sleep thing was a bit too much.
Then I started to look at the media, the portrayal of men and boys in the media, looking for the good guys and I couldn’t find many. Peter from To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, Reid from Criminal Minds and Jon Snow from Game of Thrones all seemed to be kind of deep decent fellas but after that I was left stumped really, which left me kind of sad.
Because just like women, men aren’t one dimensional but it seems that you can either be a bad boy that needs saving or a geek who is very sweet but doesn’t get the girl; all a bit shallow really.
Are these the only options we want to show young girls? Is this it? And when I think about it more, it really is problematic. Because firstly, it’s not a woman’s job to save anyone, we are so over that mother thing but secondly, how does one build up future fulfilling relationships if all we see is a bad boy or a useless geek? They say you can’t be what you can’t see but maybe also you can’t want what you can’t see.
I can see why we always fall for the bad boy; he’s complicated, deep, and secretive, has a past and let’s face it, is interesting. One of the best characters I have seen was Klaus Mikaelson from The Originals or let’s talk Dexter; I mean these must be amazing characters to play, film and write, but we need more. And with Zac Efron set to play Ted Bundy in the upcoming film I don’t see this getting any better. We need good complicated men too, normal men with stories and flaws, we need to see a bit more reality on our screens; surely we need more options, every kind of relationship.
And I know most of us know the difference between real life and story, but stories get into our souls I think; they leave impressions, perhaps without us knowing. And I know bad boys make for good stories and I’m all for good stories but perhaps we need to put as much thought into the good guy as we do the bad.
Maybe we just need to sit and think for a little about the impact that we may be having on the watches and readers, the thoughts we want to leave them with. Good stories are great, bad boys are brilliant but good guys can be interesting too. How do I know? Because I just so happen to have the best one.