Monday, February 2, 2009

Hero Archetype: The Bad Boy

The Bad Boy

Who among us hasn’t known, or maybe even fallen in love with, a Bad Boy at some point in our lives? My first encounter with a Bad Boy occurred, oh… a long time ago. Who was he, you ask? Well, he was Elvis as Vince Everett in Jailhouse Rock (not that I mean to date myself or anything). He had me the moment he leaped onto the bar and started singing, “Young and Beautiful” to an infatuated Judy Tyler. To this day, whenever I see a snippet of that movie, I get a silly grin on my face.

Why do we find this archetype so appealing and memorable?

The Bad Boy projects raw sexuality. When he walks into a room, all eyes turn in his direction. His bold stare holds a challenge, daring all he encounters. But his cocky stance and bad attitude are nothing more than camouflage, cloaking the real man and his well-guarded secrets. He never goes looking for trouble, it just naturally gravitates to him. Perhaps it’s because he’s not too keen on following the rules. Instead, he thumbs his nose and forges onward, making up his own as he goes. When trouble comes calling, the Bad Boy never backs down, no matter the risk. His survival skills are honed by years of hard knocks and his intuition is seldom wrong. He’s grown accustomed to stepping up and taking the blame. He seems hardened to it, but deep beneath his façade of indifference beats a tender heart that aches for the injustice he’s seen.

When the Bad Boy turns on the charm, no woman can resist. But he’s a player, a love ‘em and leave ‘em kind of guy. While he has an eye and appreciation for the sweet bloom of youth, at the end of the day, a world-wise woman is more to his taste. No strings and no promises, because on the rare occasion he does give his word, he’s honor-bound to keep it, so he avoids that trap at all costs.

Although he works hard to preserve his “I don’t give a damn” image, deep inside, the Bad Boy needs to love and be loved. Only a woman who can withstand the inferno of his sarcasm and bitterness has a prayer of touching the true heart of the man. The ride is certain to be wild and the closer she gets, the more he turns up the heat to drive her back. But, oh, what a lovely way to burn!

The Bad Boy is the survivor of a tragic youth. He’s seen too much, been betrayed, or beaten, and finally abandoned by all the ideals he once held dear. The wounds of his past go soul deep and never truly heal. They’ve ravaged and shaped him, and made him into the man he’s become. Rage simmers just beneath his calm, ready to erupt at the slightest provocation. He fights hard and makes love even harder. So, beware the Bad Boy, for he feels he has nothing to lose.

So… there’s our Bad Boy, my favorite type of romance hero. All my heroes tend to have some of the Bad Boy characteristics. There’s just something irresistible about a man who needs saving from himself. Who’s your favorite Bad Boy character, either in print or on film? Or, maybe you know a real-live Bad Boy. Tell me about him, I’d love to know.

Posted By: Devon Matthews

14 comments:

Taryn Raye said...

Danny Zucco from Grease springs to mind. For all his bad boy qualities, the show he put on for his peers, the tough "I don't care" attitude- he had a gentle heart and the determination to win Sandy over in the end. I suppose even as a little girl, he caught my eye.

I knew a guy like that in 6th grade. He was the class clown, the troublemaker- always hauled out in the hall with the wooden paddle for misbehaving and disturbing class. He was a bit scary, but at the same time I was drawn to him as though I could tell he had deep wounds that just wouldn't heal. I knew he wasn't the kind of trouble I needed though.

Years later we got to know each other as friends and indeed, he'd grown up in a tough situation- his father died when he was very young and I believe he acted out due to circumstance. He had to put on a brave front and a tough one, at that.

But inside- he has a good heart, even when he knows he's being bad. He's sensitive though he doesn't show it to many and though he has his own agenda, I know if worse came to worse- he'd be there in a heartbeat if someone he loved needed him.

Devon Matthews said...

Taryn, I went to school with a guy EXACTLY like that. I couldn't have described him better and the only thing I would add is, he was gorgeous and the girls couldn't keep their eyes off him.

I don't know what became of him. But I remember walking past his house one time when he was outside, so we talked. Then his mom screeched his name and ordered him inside. His cocky charm continued until he reached the porch, then I saw it vanish. I think a very frightened, insecure boy walked inside that house.

Thanks so much for coming by and telling me about your bad boy! :o)

Taryn Raye said...

Yep, this guy was gorgeous, too. He had a cocky attitude and a lot of bravado..what life was like for him at home though I don't know. Probably similar to the bad boy you knew.

Anonymous said...

Taryn and Devon,
I, too, went to school with a guy like the ones you descibed. His name was Bobby. And yes I had a huge crush. He had an earring, long hair, and wore a black leather jacket with fringe hanging from the back of the sleeves. Did I ever get with him? Nope. At the time I was jealous of the girls who did because his mouth was so beautiful I just knew he had to be the best kisser ever born.

Then I saw Gone With The Wind, and fell head over heels in love with Rhett Butler, who was nothing like the bad boy type I thought I was into. Ever since, bad boys haven't appealed to me. I always go for the charmer.

In closing I'd like to say I hope your bad boys didn't go as rotten as mine did. When he was twenty-six Bobby killed a man. And not by accident, either. He is doing life in prison down in Georgia. I think about him every once in a while, sorry that he got himself into that kind of trouble and darned glad I didn't borrow trouble by getting involved with him.

Devon Matthews said...

Hi Anonymous! Thanks for stopping in and telling us about your bad boy. Unfortunately, what you said is true. Bad boys in real life usually end up badly. I'd like to hear about a real-life bad boy who was turned and ended up having a happy, fulfilled life.

To me, that's the appealing aspect of having a bad boy hero in romance. By the end of the story, he's redeemed by the love of a good woman. And the journey between is what makes for a compelling read.

Genella deGrey said...

Three words:

Captain Jack Sparrow.

:D
G.

Devon Matthews said...

Ah, yes, Captain Jack Sparrow, who makes even grungy teeth look sexy. LOL! It doesn't get much better than Johnny Depp, no matter what role he plays.

Thanks for stopping by, Genella!

Amy Durham said...

Mmmmm... Loves me some bad boys! I love lots of different kind of romantic heroes, but I have a soft spot for the bad boys of fiction. One of my favorite bad boys was Cameron, from "Sea Swept" the first book of Nora Roberts' Chesapeake series. He raced on the European circuit and was NOT going to settle down, not for anything in the world. And I also love the vampires in J.R. Ward's Blackdagger Brotherhood series. Tragic pasts, super strength, and a sense of honor and justice that won't quit. YUM!

Great post, Devon!

Devon Matthews said...

Hi Amy! Glad you could make it. A whole bunch of fictional romance heroes are running through my head right now. And something occurs to me. It seems like the really wounded ones, the ones who've fallen the farthest from grace have soft sounding names like Johnny or Billy, names that end with an "e" sound. Hmm...

Amy Durham said...

Oh, Oh, OH.... I thought of one more! When you said "Johnny", it brought to mind the book by Karen Robards where the hero is a paroled murderer who falls in love with his former high school teacher. I think it' called "One Summer". That was an incredible book.

AND... several years ago there was a RITA finalist called "Fallen from Grace", by Laura Leone. It was from a small publisher... Five Star, I think. Toni Blake encouraged all of us to read it, because the author was her friend, and it was a book she could not sell to NY, no matter how hard she tried. But she believed in the book so much that instead of give up or change it to sell it to one of the "biggies", she sold it to Five Star. And then finaled in the RITA. It is an amazing book.. with a bad boy hero that will absolutely melt your heart. He's a male prostitute who falls in love with his new neighbor, and as much as I thought I wouldn't be able to love the book, it was sooooo good that I thought I might never be able to write another word because I knew I could never write anything as good as that. And it was all because of the bad boy hero.

Sigh...

Great topic!

Magdalena Scott said...

My favorite film bad boy is Jack Colton in ROMANCING THE STONE. Oh yeah.

Hmmmm. I have the video around here somewhere... Might need to review why he's my favorite bad boy...

Anonymous said...

Teresa, Devon and all,
Just wanted you to know..I've been checking this site/blog every day. Good job and keep it up!
Mary Morrow

Anonymous said...

Talking about bad boys you have to list The Breakfast Club's John Bender. One of THE bad boys in teenage films, isn't he?

Christine said...

I love bad boy heroes. I may want a nice guy in real life, but I root for bad boys in movies. They're so interesting and deep.
A bad boy example? Sawyer from lost!!! He's rough, angry, really sarcastic and acts like he doesn't give two poops about anyone, but we get glimpses into the real Sawyer actually being pretty nice (he'd probably REALLY turn on the sarcasm if you told him that) and LOST just wouldn't be the same without him!

 
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