5/3/18

The Problem with Bad Boys


            I don't like "bad boys" in fiction... at all.

             My two least favorite bad boys in YA are Tobias and Edward Cullen.

             They're tough. They're cool. They have a troubled past. And of course, they're super hot.

              Oh, and they're all complete jerks, who are abusive.

               Y'all might be slightly confused, after all, I've said in the past that I like bad boys. In fact, I am writing a more tough character in my current wip, but there's a line between troubled and hurt and abusive and a total jerk.

               Please, stop romanticizing the latter. 

  • Being emotionally abusive isn't hot
  • Being a sociopath isn't hot
  • Being a jerk 24/7 without even P.M.S. to blame it on isn't hot
  • Being void of any morals whatsoever isn't hot

                It's scary that emotional abuse and unhealthy teen relationships (and any age relationships for that matter) are shown and glorified in this light. 

                Please, STOP ROMANTICIZING DESTRUCTIVE RELATIONSHIPS.
                The bad boys are all the same, just with a different names... 

             "I can fix him." is often an excuse used in these types of books, or a form of thought that our MC has throughout the book.

               It annoys me, because first off, YOU CAN'T FIX HIM.
               Secondly, WHY THE HECK WOULD YOU WANT TO FIX HIM?
                Thirdly, YOU CAN'T FIX HIM.

                Also, the angst. So. Much. Angst. Because, dang, it's got to be tough to be a player and a total narcissist.
               There are SO MANY other types of guys, and yet, this is the type we choose to put on a pedestal. Why?
   
               Now, I'm not saying that we shouldn't write troubled characters, or even characters who are struggling with being a bad person in retrospect, but can we please stop glamorizing it?

                It's not hot.
                It's not fun.

                Let's let the girl see his flaws as they are. Let's let him struggle to escape his destructive ways.

               Let's glorify recovery.

             People are messed up, and it hurts. It hurts others and themselves. This isn't a cutesy game. This isn't true love at first glance. This isn't being intoxicated by an eye color.

             Stop dumbing it down to meaningless stereotypes.

What are your thoughts about this? 

Happy Writing,

51 comments:

  1. I agree that "bad boys" can be romanticized in an unhealthy light, but I also want to point out that most of these "bad boys" are only ever found in fiction, and that's exactly why authors can get away with it: because fiction is exactly that, fiction. It's not real and it's not meant to be real or necessarily 100% accurate to the way life is. Just as Sci-Fi is completely unrealistic and unlikely, so "bad boys" in YA fiction are unrealistic and unlikely to be the same as "bad boys" in real life.

    However, I also see your point that bad boys in YA can be abusive, manipulative, and just plain out jerks who need serious attitude adjustments. But because I'm a Twihard, I simply cannot state that I dislike Edward Cullen. Yes, he's got a lot of flaws as a human, (or rather, as a vampire) but he's also just a character that I fell in love with after I saw the movies. Movie Edward is less of a creep to me than Book Edward; and after reading the first book, I will definitely agree that Book Edward Cullen is a bit of a creepy bad boy.

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    1. Hm, as someone who has met their fair share of jerks without a valid cause who don't want to change, I might argue that. But I do agree they get away with it because it's just fiction, but then that raises the question on why this type of character is deemed more desirable than the others? And how is it healthy to have these types glorified?

      I've never been a twilght fan, and I just found Edward's behavior to raise so many red flags, he's a stalker and controlling, or at least that's how he appeared to me. I never tried to really like any of the characters though, so I'm sure he can be taken as an overall good person and character, and I never finished the last book or watched the movies, so I hope his character arc did make him better. ^_^

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  2. YES, GIRL, PREACH IT!

    I can't stand this type of trope because, like you said, no one can fix the "bad boy" but himself AND why would anyone enter a relationship to change someone? That's a train wreck from the start.

    Writiting a struggling character is one thing. Writing a sociopath as a romantic interest is another. Thank you for speaking the truth. <3

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    1. Exactly, I'm so tired of the trope that people can change people, when one really can't. The person has to fix themselves, and sure, you can encourage and stand by their side through that, but you can't save someone from drowning if you aren't a trained lifeguard without the high chance of being pulled down as well.

      Thanks for reading!

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  3. You are so mature in your observations. FANTASTIC POST. You are write on!

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  4. YES. YES. YES.

    I've seen stuff like this happen in real life and it's such a mess. Falling in love with the bad boy never, ever ends up well, and the guy has to find it in himself to change (which is what kind of happens in my book; he's not an abusive jerk, but he does have problems, but HE CHANGES and the girl doesn't set out to change him.)

    And I agree with you that THIS IS NOT ROMANTIC. Writing someone who's troubled is one thing--everyone has ghosts and issues. But writing someone who is abusive and creepy is another. That's my biggest issue with Les Miserables, actually--everyone thinks that Marius is a cute lovestsruck guy and he and Cosette are "so cute" together, but, like, HE'S A STALKER! HE'S OBSESSED WITH HER! HE WATCHES HER THROUGH THE WINDOW!!!!! This is not cute or romantic. SORRY.

    Quite a rant here, but I could go on about this for a long time. :P

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    1. Nooooooo, Mariusssss. XD. You're right though.

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    2. @Faith, it is such a mess, and no, it never ends well. In my book Piper at one point does try to change Josh, but ends up hurting him more and realizing how naive she was to think it would be that easy to fix him.

      It isn't romantic in the slightest, and I really wish they'd stop writing abusive as okay or cute.

      @Jem Chick, I'm with you there! I love Marius, but he does have a case of irrational "love-struck" teenage boy behavior, he probably writes bad poetry too. XD

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    3. How is Marius watching a girl through a window any different than Edward Cullen watching Bella sleep? Call me crazy, but I think that if you call Edward a creepy stalker, then Marius is a creepy stalker too. I just find it odd that "everyone" likes this Marius dude, but "everyone" seems to hate Edward Cullen for basically the same reasons they ignore about Marius. Lol, I hope that didn't sound rude, I just don't know how to word right now. I 100% do NOT want that to sound like I'm trying to be rude cause that is totally not my intention.

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    4. Personally, I find Edward creepy because he is a hundred something immortal, pursuing a teenage girl, he obviously has the power and experience to manipulate Bella, it just seems off. I don't know, that's just what got me.

      I didn't think you were rude at all! ^_^

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    5. That actually...makes a lot of sense. I kinda agree with you that it is a bit odd and creepy. I still adore Twilight, but I definitely know and acknowledge that it has a lot of flaws and unrealistic aspects. ;)

      Well good, I really try not to be rude in shoving my opinion out into the blogosphere cause I know sometimes I tend to be really blunt in the way I present things, which can come off as rude in some situations.

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    6. I'm glad you adore it, we all have those books that we adore, and they're wonderful. <3

      I'm very blunt too, so I get the struggle (way too much actually). XD

      Delete
  5. Wonderful post! I agree with 100%! Most of the time while reading books with "bad boy" characters I'm screaming at the heroine saying the exact things you said above. And I agree that there's a difference between "troubled and hurt" and "abusive jerk". I rather like the first type of character because they have a reason to be tough. Again, wonderful post!

    ~Ceci

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    1. Thank you!
      I want to scream at them too. >.<

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  6. *eyes pop out of head* Oh my goodness, SO MUCH YES TO THIS POST! O_O

    So. Much. Yes.

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  7. YAYAYAYAYAYAYASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS! So much yes. Ugh. *facedesk* I can't even. Did I say yes already?! Why do we keep having these kinds of characters in books AND LIKE IT?! I mean, why? There's some amazing guys out there that will treat you right and be the one for you, yet you waste your time chasing after some moron that will only hurt you, both emotionally and physically?! REALLY?!

    Sorry for the rant. But I totally agree with this post!

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    1. I KNOW. It shouldn't be glorified like this, and teenage girls need some more credit.

      Thanks for reading!

      Delete
  8. This is just sad...especially because people are soaking it in and reading more and more of it. Boys are going to think that this is how they should be, and that it's okay. And girls are going to get themselves in trouble, thinking boys like that are what they need.

    I have a character in my trilogy who's has a rough past. He has moments where he can get agitated, moments where he wants to be alone. But do you know what? He's still a gentleman. He tries to make people smile, he does his very best not to hurt anyone. Despite his "being a fighter" he also knows how to treat a woman respectfully. He may be "troubles and hurt" but he's not an "abusive jerk." There's a way to write one without having the other. :)

    Why can't stories have /good/ guys...some tall, handsome man, who's always there for the girl, ready to give things up for her, to help her out, who is respectful, and basically is just an all-around great guy??? Cause it ain't "realistic?" Maybe it's not, but deep down, we all know that's what a girl wants, right?

    This is GREAT, Gray! I am really enjoying these posts!!

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    1. YES, PREACH, JULIAN!
      Your character sounds amazing, we need more characters like that.

      Delete
  9. For me Bad Boy almost always meant bad personality so I could never understand girls that were head over heels about them. Especially in real life. They will literally insult the girl to her face and then the girl would have a crush on him? What the fudge is that?!

    Especially the Darkling in the Grisha Trilogy. I honestly feel sorry for whoever finds that character attractive. That's messed up.

    The only instance when I understood why the 'bad boy' was liked was when I was watching a drama and a man had multiple personalities and one was a 'bad boy' personality who was innocent on the inside. However, I knew that it would be disastrous if the female lead would get into a relationship with him.

    Maybe the trope can be changed to a normal tough guy but not necessarily a player? Hopefully that will happen. Unfortunately, I don't see this character changing.

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    1. Yes, exactly. It's so awful, I don't know why it's considered hot or cool.

      I haven't read that trilogy, but I never understand why people freak out over characters like that.

      That sounds understandable, and in that case it sounds like it would fit into a story well.

      I hope that will happen, or at least players portrayed as the narcissists they are. :/

      Delete
  10. This is a really insightful and thought-provoking post - well done you for writing it and sharing it with us. I actually like the whole bad boy - troubled past thing, but you're right - there has to be a line between troubled and yeah, abusive. Some things are just not cool.

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    1. Thank you! I do too, to a certain extent. I have lots of friends who are more troubled, so I do feel for people struggling with their pasts, but the abusiveness is so romanticized in YA that it's scary.

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  11. I definitely agree. Instead of "Bad boys." in fiction, we should have gentleman (?) or at least some kind person who isn't a "Bad boy." And will show that it's better to hang out with someone kind, caring, loving, and loyal. Oppose to someone who might turn on you or bring you into a dangerous place or worse.

    Anyway, Gray I totally agree with you!:)
    -Quinley

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    1. We really should have more gentlemen! Or at least show them as more adjusted than the bad boys.

      Thanks, Quinley!

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  12. YES!!! 100% YES!!!! I hate it when guys are borderline abusive and it's seen as good! It's so rotten. DX And the mircomanagers... The bad boys who rule over the girls life and than she thanks him. Just no.

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    1. SAME. These characters are so controlling and stalkerish and there are so many red flags, and that's not a good thing.

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  13. I agree with this, I'm not a fan of most of the characters that get that label. Especially if they are abusive and manipulative. I don't mind a good antihero though, or a guy who tries to appear tough and is really broken.

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    1. I also like a good anithero, and broken characters are needed. It's the abuse and controlling nature of relationships in these situations that bother me, especially when it is shown as glorified.

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  14. Why don't people understand that you can still write tough or rebellious guys without making them jerks? The reason everyone likes tough guys is because they want someone who will protect and stick up for them, not someone who will hurt them.

    The guy who punches jerks, not a jerk that needs punching...

    Great post!

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    1. Exactly, you can still have issues but try to be a good person.

      Thank you!

      Delete
  15. Yes! So true!!

    I hate the 'I can fix him' line of thinking. Only God and actively trying to change on his part can fix him. You can help someone want to change, but some things are out of human hands.

    Also, I wonder if the bad boy wasn't attractive, if characters/readers would fall for him... I think not.

    Great post Gray! :)

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    1. Yes, only God can truly fix someone, right on, Melissa. <3

      I doubt it. :/

      Thank you!

      Delete
  16. Very true.
    There’s a fine line between being troubled or having a rough past and such verses being abusive.
    I wish there were more gentleman in books. Or just guys who want to do the right thing.
    Anyways, thanks for sharing your thoughts, Gray!

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  17. AMEN!
    I haven't read the Divergent books, and my mom hates them because Four is such a jerk.

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    1. He is such a jerk, I kind of like him in the later books because he improves, but he's not the nicest guy.

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  18. Wow, this has to be one of your better posts... because I just agree so much ;)

    TBH... I do like Sherlock and he's a complete Jerk.

    But... all others... yeah, why would you date someone that is so evil and mean to you? Relationships should be about best friends living life together and helping the other do so better!

    Love, love, love this :)

    keturahskorner.blogspot.com

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    1. Aw, thank you!

      Sherlock is funny, and he isn't portrayed as the perfect or ideal person, which is what I like about him.

      Exactly! Iron sharpens iron.

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  19. Bad boys are like forbidden fruit to girls - they are a challenge, they are edgy, and they have a wonderful ability to blind a girl's senses.

    Take for example, the Phantom of the Opera. Sure, he's disfigured and has a rough childhood, but that doesn't excuse the murdering, the emotional manipulation, and the seducing that he does to poor Christine.

    Now it's one thing to portray someone like that and have a lot of character development (one example would be Jeremy from A Work in Progress/A Piece of Heaven by Stacy Stallings). But I agree (to quote you) being a jerk 24/7 without PMS to blame it on is not something we should glorify.

    Awesome post, Gray!

    Catherine
    catherinesrebellingmuse.blogspot.com

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    1. Ugh, that is unfortunately so true.

      I agree about The Phantom of the Opera. ^_^

      Thank you!

      Delete
  20. OH MY GOSH GRAY YESSSS!!! I have never thought about this but I so so so agree. Some of the characters are just jerks like uggggg. Love this so much!

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    1. Aw, thank you! <3
      I'm so glad you like it!!

      Delete
  21. Dude, this is spot on! And funny too. XD It can be a struggle as a writer to create characters who are realistic and relatable, but this cliche is not cool. It's not all sunshine and rainbows in real life, so we shouldn't shy away from the hard topics and the broken characters. But that doesn't mean we need to uplift these guys and present their abusive behavior as desirable. A to the men!

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    1. Thank you!!

      It can be super hard. People aren't perfect, but it's scary when bad behavior is romanticized.

      Thank you so much for commenting! <3

      Delete
  22. There are a lot of great points in the comments section already, so instead of repeating any of them, I'd like to play off them just a bit. This trend of glorifying the abusive bad boy type can actually have real world consequences - it paints a picture (for younger impressionable women in particular) that these kinds of abusive relationships are both normal and desirable. Who does that benefit? A society that subtly hates women and a plethora of entitled boys who think they can treat girls any way they want and still get laid at the end of it.

    How is anyone supposed to know what a healthy relationship is or how to set boundaries for yourself when all you see in any type of media is the exact opposite?!

    On The Cusp | https://on-th3-cusp.blogspot.com/

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    1. Yes, most certainly, and that is what's so scary about it. When I was younger I would've thought reading about a guy behaving that way as romantic, but now it just raises a lot of red flags. It's awful how these themes are making it into books.

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