What is a ‘bad boy’?
The Urban Dictionary defines a bad boy as “...a young man who has many characteristics of a naughty boy: he's independent and wilful; he does what he wants when he wants; he doesn't follow trends, they follow him; he often looks scruffy, but hip; he's not looking for trouble, but there's a sense of danger about him. For these reasons and more, he's irresistible to women.” That’s George all over plus more. He’s the Rogue (aka the King of Thieves) of the Tortall Realm at the tender age of seventeen, he’s the breadwinner of his family and despite his untrustworthy trade, he is trustworthy with Alanna’s secret and ultimately heart. It’s telling that most bad boys have had to grow up before their time, either in caring for others or for themselves. Their hearts are normally barricaded by quips and insults and yet their cynicism and bitterness often make the romance the most worthwhile. The point is that they have hearts, their badness is often a label placed on them by a misunderstanding society rather than a state of being. Their capitulation to love is always tortured and toe curling greatness – the best kind of read imaginable.
George Oh George.
Of course bad boys are normally beautiful....as George is. He’s tall (6”4) – have you ever come across a vertically challenged bad boy? He’s dark with roguish eyes and an ungainly nose – the “too big nose for their face” seems to be a common bad boy factor too, I much prefer it to the one that could befit a Roman statue. He’s muscley and mischievous – basically he’s a delicious concoction! He’s dangerous though, his role in the slums of Tortall demands it. His survival demonstrates his excellence at it. He’s a keen spy, tough but fair in his punishments and charming as all heck. He was a great entree in a huge, lifelong bad boy feast of massive proportions.
A quick twitter poll about bad boys saw some great suggestions of perfect bad boys:
• LJ Smith’s Damon, Ash and Julian (The Vampire Diaries, Night World and The Forbidden Game)
• Melissa Marr’s Niall and Irial (Wicked Lovely series)
• Bec Fitzpatrick’s Patch (Hush Hush)
• Sarah Rees Brennan’s Nick (The Demon's Lexicon)
• Megan McCaffrey’s Marcus Flutie (Jessica Darling series)
• Sarah Dessen's Owen (Just Listen)
• Richelle Mead's Adrian (Vampire Academy series)
• Cory Doctorow's Marcus (Little Brother)
• SE Hinton's Dally (The Outsiders)
YA to TV.
My love of the bad boy has transitioned from YA literature into that of mainstream pop culture. Pacey Witter (Dawson’s Creek) was the archetype of bad boy perfection – naughty, cheeky, manly and one heck of a kisser – seriously check out the head cradle manoeuvre he had down. Later it was Ben Covington from Felicity, Logan Echols from Veronica Mars, Tim Riggins from Friday Night Lights and though I loathe to admit to watching the show, Mark “McSteamy” Sloane from Grey’s Anatomy. Even when they are bad, they are good. Even when they’re acting like jerks, they make you laugh. Even when they are arguing with you, they usually have a point in there somewhere amidst the crudity.
Bad boys are ultimately much more developed than any boy-next-door and thus much more compelling, fascinating and watchable. If you still doubt me, think about your initial reaction to Judd Nelson’s character, John Bender, in The Breakfast Club and you’ll know I have a point!
The Danger Factor.
A bad boy is capable of beating the crap out of someone – usually in the defence of the heroine’s honour or his own. Though he’d realise that she was capable of fighting her own battles and only step in when truly necessary – the bad boy is the feminist’s best boy. He likes that she swears like a sailor, hates pink and could kick him in the balls. He doesn’t romanticise her but sees the heroine as she truly is, even calling her on her crap a lot of the time. The best kind of bad boy is the one that challenges the heroine’s perspective. Many think it’s the heroine that changes the bad boy but often it is just the reverse, she might make him more honest but he makes her more open to possibilities.
And in the end, isn’t that what YA literature is all about – being open to possibilities?