Funky Fad Friday--Bad Boys Gone Soft

I'll put this out there first of all: I don't really like bad boys, in real life or in books.

In real life, because I was born without a rebellious streak, I guess. In books, because I hate to see a bad boy gone soft.

Have you noticed this? Hot Guy is mysterious, moody, dark. Girl is drawn to him because he just feels so deliciously dangerous. There is tension. This is good. I'm totally on board up to this point.

But then.

Tension breaks. They get together. Bad Boy starts sharing his feelings like a freaking girl! And he's nice and sensitive and kind and patient. And it seriously bugs me. This is not the same guy Girl was initially attracted to. He has become her, with a deeper voice. Guh.

I say, if he's a Bad Boy, he has to have a reason to be bad. And he has to stay bad. Now, I'm not saying he should slap her around or forbid her from talking to her friends or anything. And of course, a guy would open up more to someone he loved than to the general public. But please, don't make the Bad Boy a pushover as soon as he falls in love.

I'll give you one example of Bad Boy done right: Jace Wayland in the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. (No spoilers, guys, I just finished Book 4) Jace is arrogant, sarcastic, and can be downright ruthless with his cutting words. He is emotionally cut off and aloof. He falls for Clary and--wonder of wonders--is still the same guy. Yes, he opens up a bit to Clary, she can see how his sarcasm is a coping device. But he still does it. He still annoys her. She loves him anyway, and I totally buy it because that's who she fell in love with in the first place.

So, Bad Boys. Be nice to the girl you like, but please, continue to be a jerk for your unique reasons, and I will appreciate you all the more for it.


Chantele Sedgwick said...

I love this. Seriously. :)

Jess said...

Enlightening post! And a good reminder to finish the Mortal Instruments series :)

Erin said...

For me, the opposite is also annoying. Bad boy stays bad and a jerk, and I think, "why the heck is she still hanging out with this loser?" I like it when he learns some things about his bad behavior enough to knock off the really bad stuff and become just soft enough to be lovable. Yes, let him keep his personality, but to write him to be completely unchanging is to write a flat, boring, frustrating protag. I like to see the journey of his change. But at the end I don't want him sobbing when the flies die. It's a delicate balance.

Christine Tyler said...

This is awesome, and I must say I agree 100%. Having the boy go all soft and cuddly is also a pretty poor message to girls anyway. "Hey, see that nasty-mean doofus over there? Make him fall in love with you, and you can bring him home to momma!" Or also, letting girls believe that boys with serious emotional and psychological issues can be changed in a day by thwarting villains or surviving cataclysmic events. Not so.

Of course, when he stays bad I also want the MC to wise up and cut the emotional umbilical cord and let him figure out his own dang problems instead of enabling him and telling him how cute and adorable his cutting remarks are.

The story arc I want to see is the MC wising up and going after the nice guy. aka Peeta.

J. A. Bennett said...

ha! I want to say I disagree, but I think you're right! Bad boys are still going to be bad whether you love them or not!

David P. King said...

Thank you. You have no idea how much I catch this. Some guys are just jerks and stories like what you said give the wrong impression that "all bad boys have a soft center that us girls need to crack." Nope. I know one too many girls who have fallen for that trap. Great post! :)

Angela Cothran said...

I don't like the bad boy ever. Maybe that is why I couldn't get past the first Mortal Instruments book. I lose a lot of respect for a girl who lets a boy treat her badly.

Lindsay N. Currie said...

Great post. As you point out, it is pretty implausible for a character set up as a "bad boy" to make an about face and change entirely during the course of a 200 page novel. For that reason alone, I agree with you 100%. I like the relationships to be realistic and I don't mind my boys flawed -- as long as they stay that way:)