Monday, April 2, 2012

Bad Bad Bad Bad Boy, You Make Me Feel So Good

A MG/YA editor once explained to a workshop group I was in that the popularity of teen vampire novels is related to a young female reader's fascination with "bad boys." So reading about a young female protagonist romancing a vampire (or werewolf or zombie or a ghost) lets the reader experience the excitement of being in a relationship with someone others might not approve of.

Sometimes bad boys fascinate girls, especially "good girls."  It happens in real life, it happens on TV, in movies, and it happens in young adult and even middle grade literature. 

In WEST SIDE STORY, Maria wanted to be with Tony even though he was a member of her brother's rival gang. Similar story in ROMEO AND JULIET. The couples' forbidden attraction only made them want each other more.

There's a lot of fan fiction out there on a Hermione and Draco hook-up. If J.K. Rowling had ever wanted to create a little fling between Hermione and Draco in her HARRY POTTER books, I guarantee this wouldn't have hurt her book sales. 

I'm not against good girl/bad boy love stories. But the one good girl/bad boy story I've seen repeatedly in books and in movies that really irks me is the one where the good girl "heals" the bad boy by guiding him to be a "better" person, and then she dies, usually from a terminal illness or something no one saw coming. I believe writers go this route when they figure the good girl/bad boy romance would easily wither away if their characters had the chance to be together indefinitely. So why not just kill someone off, and have audiences mourn for a love that could've been, as opposed to showing an opposites attract hook-up that would run its course, and then get boring?  

While I can certainly see the appeal of a bad boy, I also root for nice guys. Case in point: On Gossip Girl, a TV show based on a YA book series, I feel strongly Blair should end up with good-natured Dan over the menacing Chuck. While Chuck can be dark and intense, he cannot provide Blair with the emotionally stable relationship that Dan can. Besides, how many of you can trust someone again after they offer you up to have sex with their uncle as part of a business transaction?

Nice guys don't have to finish last. Second case in point: A Hermione and Draco flirtation might've have been fun, but  Hermione will be much safer, better appreciated, and happier with Ron. Besides, I don't anticipate Hermione getting along with Draco's pure-blood parents very well.  

Ladies and gents, do you cheer for the bad boys or the nice guys?


Kate said...

Everyone loves a bad boy, but I think that we should love good boys more! Otherwise, aren't we encouraging boys to be bad in order to get the girls whilst also trying to encourage girls to only accept the good boys. Great first post! I hope you have one on love triangles - as these pop up everywhere and I HATE them, lol.

S.P. Bowers said...

I have to admit I've never been attracted to the bad boy. So here's a vote for the nice guy. They never get the recognition they deserve.

mindthagap said...

I do understand the attraction of the bad boy. I went through a phase in my life where they were the only guys I was attracted to. But I think in the end we all want someone who will love us, not hurt us. So writing and reading about bad boys is a fun outlet, but I'm always gonna root for the good guy!

Shelley Sly said...

Hi there! New follower here -- I LOVE the name of your blog!

I also really, really like Draco Malfoy, so I wouldn't complain if Hermione had ended up with him. ;)

Kathleen Valentine said...

As someone who has had a lifelong penchant for bad boys I certainly understand.

Heather M. Gardner said...

I think it's too black and white. There are bad boys with good intentions. And nice guys with a dark side.
No one is ever one way or the other.
Great post.

Anonymous said...

as someone who grew up during the 'my so called life' years, i'm a sucker for the fixer-upper. jordan catalano ruined us!

Cynthia said...

Kate- I actually did a post on love triangles last week- you can find it at

S.P.- I agree that nice guys should get more credit.

mindthegap- Sometimes having a negative experience with a "bad boy" will help us better appreciate a "good boy" when he comes along.

Shelley- I felt that Draco secretly wanted to be good, and we sort of see that in the later books. Ultimately, I feel that Hermione is better off with Ron.

Kathleen- You probably have some neat stories to tell about your experiences.

Heather- I hear what you're saying. That's why I put "bad boys" in quotation marks at the beginning of the post.

Gina- I didn't watch My So Called Life but I heard it was a good show.

Karen Walker said...

Oh, this is a hard question. There's something about those "bad" boys that is so darn hard to resist. But if it's real life we're talking about, I'll take the good guy every time.

Daisy Carter said...

I can't stand the good girl saving the bad boy then croaking, either! But I recently read "Going Too Far" by Jennifer Echols about a bad girl and a good guy who save each other. Now THAT I loved!

Lynda R Young said...

I like a bit of bad boy in a good guy. That is, he's outwardly bad but really he's good inside :)
I want my cake AND eat it too hehehe

Sarah Pearson said...

I cheer for the nice guys. If YA writers want to make their stories true to life then the good girl and the bad guy should have a fling, the bad guy dumps the good girl. Good girl rebounds with good guy then dumps him. Hmm ... not sure a story where nobody ends up happy would really fly!

Also, thank you. I've now got a Gloria Estefan earworm ;-)

Emily said...

I tend to cheer for whomever is the most realistic. But, in the end, I love the good guys with good hearts. Bad boys might be fun for a bit, but I feel like hearts are usually broken when bad boys win.

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

I actually did a post once on some attractive nice guys in YA fiction, for those who tire of the bad boy:

Journaling Woman said...

Hi, Cynthia,

I'm a bad boy--girl. In my younger days, I went for the bad boys more than the good guys. They were always my friends, though. Now, I feel bad. :)

And to answer your question from over at Journaling Woman, no I haven't read A TALE DARK AND GRIMM. I'll have to do that, but, after April is over.


Cynthia said...

Karen- I hear what you're saying. =)

Daisy- I haven't read GOING TOO FAR yet. Thanks for the book recommendation.

Lynda- Ah, so it sounds like you want a good boy disguised as a bad one.

Sarah- The scenario you depicted is quite realistic. I wish the nice guy wouldn't get the short end of the stick though.

Emily- I too cheer for the guy with the good heart, not the creep.

Jennifer- I'll check out your link. Thanks for sharing.

Teresa/Journaling Woman- I think when we're younger, we might be enticed by the sense of adventure a "bad boy" offers.

So I've heard a bit from the ladies about their preferences for nice guys/bad boys. All you gentlemen out there, do you have anything to say??

Honey said...

I completely agree with you on the sappy old story line of good girl transforming bad boy- so cheesy. I'm divided here though on how I feel about bad boys- sometimes there are gray areas and I love complicated relationships, but there are lines that can't be crossed.

Honey said...

I completely agree with you on the sappy old story line of good girl transforming bad boy- so cheesy. I'm divided here though on how I feel about bad boys- sometimes there are gray areas and I love complicated relationships, but there are lines that can't be crossed.

Rachel Morgan said...

There's a lot of fan fiction out there on a Hermione and Draco hook-up. Wait, whaaaat?? I had no idea about that!

I'm all for the bad boys (most of them, anyway) but there's one good guy I absolutely love, and that's Cricket from Lola and the Boy Next Door. LOVE HIM!!

Rachel Morgan said...

Oh and P.S. my blog link --> Rachel Morgan Writes :-)

Cynthia said...

Honey- There are definitely lines that can't be crossed.

Rachel- Thanks for the book recommendation! I'm heading right over to visit your blog!

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