Monday, December 18, 2006

Bad Boys

All I want for Christmas is a bad boy... Well, not really. I think he might be difficult to live with, but the fantasy is certainly an appealing one. I'm the sort of girl who sits up and pays attention the minute a bad boy walks onto the page or screen, and I'm not talking about your typical alpha male hero with a roguish smile and a bit of stubble here; I'm talking about a real scoundrel.

I have several favourites, and thinking about this post, I've been trying to work out what it is about them that I find so fascinating.

Take Exhibit A (above), Steerpike from Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast books. So, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers helped a lot in the BBC adaptation, but he’s incredibly sexy, despite (and this is putting it extremely mildly) being a nasty piece of work. Why? He’s confident, witty, intelligent, takes risks, and knows how to have a good time. He’s also surrounded by fools, but what villain isn’t?

Consider also, Lucius Malfoy or Riddick from Pitch Black (cheating a little with that one). They live life on their own terms, not anyone else’s version of morality. So, while the hero doggedly pursues a worthy cause, the villain is free to be imaginative and unpredictable. He has time to devote to his appearance (got to keep up that image), to hone his wicked sense of humour and indeed time to have fun. All the best villains know the importance of good timing, and nothing is sexier than a confident man who can make you laugh.

Bad boys get all the best lines, too. Did anyone really watch Pirates of the Caribbean for Orlando Bloom? Pretty, but a bit dull. Now Captain Jack Sparrow, that’s what I’m talking about.

If you haven't read Lord Wraxall's Fancy by Anna Lieff Saxby, I recommend that you beg, borrow, or steal a copy. Just like Valmont from Dangerous Liaisons, Wraxall never forgets that if you can't do it with style, it's not worth the effort.

Lady Caroline Lamb once described Lord Byron as “mad, bad, and dangerous to know” and so he’s been fictionalised ever since. The ultimate bad boy, regardless of the actual facts. So if your villain lacks a certain something, go back to your bad boy checklist – confidence, style, charisma, humour, clean fingernails, likes to take risks – ladies, we can rebuild him. We have the technology to build a Byronic Man.

Madelynne Ellis xxx

PS. Am I the only one? Who are your favourite bad boys and why?


Portia Da Costa said...

My favourite bad boy was/is Spike... but I actually liked him much better when he started to realise that there was still a good boy in there, buried under the badness. I loved his internal battle... and the fact that he did turn out to be a hero after all.

Generally, I like what you might call bad boys lite. No matter how wicked they seem and how cute they are physically, I like to think that deep, deep down there's a right thinking core that would make them do the honourable thing in an extreme situation.

Okay, so I'm a wimp and I can't take [or make] a *real* bad boy! I'm just a sucker for good oldfashioned honest, straight and true when it comes down to it... with a frosting of playful wickedness to add spice. :)

Nikki Magennis said...

Byronic man! Love it.

...but I've got to agree with Portia. I need them to have an honourable streak. I mean, villains are just so much hard work! You've got to keep shelling out the bail money and tending to their twisted egos. And I don't have the energy for all that maniacal laughter...(Tilly, go on, that's your cue!)

I'd rather a sweet man with a hidden dark side, I think. A man who is capable of wickedness, but has the iron will to keep it under control.

Robin Hood, rather than the Sherriff of Nottingham.

Alison Tyler said...

I’m embarrassed by some of my bad boy cliches. Mickey Rourke early on (Body Heat). Brad Pitt in Thelma and Louise. Warren Beatty in Bonnie and Clyde. Is it that I think I could fix them? Or that I’d be willing to lead a life of crime with them?

But more recently, James Gandolfini, especially in season one of the Sopranos in which he decides to let the police handle a disreputable soccer coach rather than deal with the situation himself. In order not to commit murder, Gandolfini has to get completely drunk. And he’s on the floor in his foyer murmuring to his wife, “I didn’t hurt nobody.” Like it’s a big fucking effort.

I have this treasured noir film that everyone in my family despises called Apartment Zero. I don’t know what it is about the movie that I like so damn much. But the stars are Colin Firth and Hart Bochner, and (just in case you’ll see it, I won’t say which one is the bad guy), I adore the villain here. He simply wants to be all things to all people.

Oh, and Tim Curry in Rocky Horror. He has to count, right? He’s a murderer, after all. But those eyes. Those lips. Those elbow-length rubber gloves.

There’s more… I’m sure, there’s more… but it’s a start.


PS Thank you for the gorgeous picture of Lucius Malfoy, Madelynne. It’s the long hair and the dark clothes and the walking stick. Oh, my.

Madelynne Ellis said...

Oh, Alison, I'd forgotten all about Apartment Zero! I saw it years ago, mmmm, yes.

Janine Ashbless said...

I think I'm in the "Bad Boy Lite" camp too: I much prefer a good guy who has to struggle to keep the dark stuff under control. Someone who's made a conscious decision to Do The Right Thing, which is always harder than just letting rip.

A bad boy's only genuinely attractive so long as there's good in him. Malfoy's very pretty but face it, he's a fucking neo-Nazi and that is not sexy.

Olivia Knight a.k.a. angelsandinsects said...

Oooh - Lucius Malfoy - sends a tingle down my spine every time he appears on screen. If they're bad, they have to be exquisitely posh to go with it - and then I'm the cocker spaniel fawning at their feet.

As for womanisers - these come in two brands, in my experience, and the ones I prefer are the genuine Don Juans who are so enthusiastic about women, so enraptured and delighted, that they bother to find out all about us, and can bed us with resulting expertise. I'm rather more suspicious of men who don't understand the nitty-gritty details of womenhood - the period pains, VPLs, how annoyingly tights create phantom fat rolls, the monthly need for chocolate in large medicinal quantities, etc. At a certain age, if he still remains ignorant about these basics, that surely bodes ill? And not in a good way...

Mathilde Madden said...

Hmm. This is the kind of topic where my gut reaction is nope, I don't like bad boys, I like sweet domesticated boys who do the hoovering.


I have a pitch out there at the mo about a woman who has to choose between dark and light. My first two novels were kind of about this too. I do like stories about a girl with a perfect life who is tempted by a bad boy. Which is quite worrying really, considering I have a lovely domesticated man at home.

And, yeah, once real life goes out of the window. Heh. I guess I can go with the bad boy thing. Has to be very, very bad though. Pure Evil. Everyone knows how much I like Angel/David Boreanaz - but I have a real thing for that characters evil alter-ego Angelus too. And forget Lucius Malfoy, Angelus is way darker. He is accoring to the text, pure evil. In a whole baby-eating type way. But - as a fantasy - that total lack of morals is kind of sexy. And the fact he's played by DB probably doesn't hurt. *sigh*

Mostly, though, I like misunderstood good more than bad. Twisted, trying to do the right thing, maybe a little weak sometimes. A good-hearted fuck up. A man with a whole bunch of baggage of regret and loss and guilt and mess. Gaius Baltar in BSG, anyone? Severus Snape?

But now I've read this post Madelynne I can see exactly why your favourte character in the were-book is Leon. Hee.

Anonymous said...

I like the concept of villains a lot, as well as their counterparts, the femme fatales. (My favorite? Maleficent, the evil queen in Sleeping Beauty. Doesn't hurt at all that she turns into a dragon.)

You're right, MM, I think the lack of morals is sexy, too. We're only talking about fantasy here. As for Lucius being neo-Nazi? I thought the point was to confess favorite sexy villains, not to dump on other people's choices.

Nikki Magennis said...

I've been mulling this bad-boy thing over. On a good, tick-tocking day, I'll go for the sweetie.

But then tonight I'm in a bad mood, and what I feel like is going out joyriding with a dark-eyed man with a wicked laugh and a bottle of jack daniels. Running red lights and playing Fugazi too loud and unzipping each other as we go, swerving all over the road and spilling whisky all over the seats.

Am I allowed a different man for every mood?

Thanks, I'll have lucifer tonight and hand him back over to you in the morning, Madelynne.

kristina lloyd said...

Oh, send Lucifer my way. I like 'em bad. I'm also completely brilliant at being able to distinguish fantasy from reality, and won't be making him any organic scrambled eggs in the morning.

Madelynne, I love Lord Wraxhall's Fancy. One of my top BL books. Heck, that woman can write. I wish she'd do more. And John Malkovich in THAT role ...

Madelynne Ellis said...

Ah, Kristina, somehow it doesn't surprise me that you're a Wraxhall fan too. I can see John Malkovich in the role, but personally I always imagined him as Michael Wincott, and either way he's scrummy.

Ditto, fantasy and reality.

And well, I never got as far as mentioning Lucifer, but needless to say I dig the whole fallen angel thing.

Tilly: Leon, yes. I refer you to my bad boy checklist. The more bases you cover the more I like him.

Kate Pearce said...

I always preferred the slightly perverted Flashman in the Tom Brown's schooldays than boring old Tom!
Of course, as I'm probably the pink fluffy Romance frosting on the top of the BL cake, I also love bad boys brought to their Knees by a good woman-My fav Heyer heroes, the Duke of Avon and his children.

Nikki Magennis said...

Mmmmm....Black Lace Cake. Can't you just imagine it? It would definitely have rum as an important ingredient.

Mathilde Madden said...

Imagine the bloody runing battle there would be about who would jump out of the Black Lace cake.

Nikki Magennis said...

I'd be jumping *in*, my dear.

It would be covered in cherries and have much praline. And sparklers. And icecream on the side, and you'd have to eat with your fingers. And it would be HUGE.

Sabrina Luna said...

Hmmm--I'm like Portia, I like those BB Lites. ;) A good movie example: Viggo Mortensen as David Shaw in THE PERFECT MURDER. *drool* Bad enough to accept Michael Douglas' character's offer to kill his wife (DS's 'secret' lover), but DS hires someone else to do the deed, then grieves when he thinks she's dead. Oooo --I got goosebumps! Sexy, but oh-so baaad. :)

Katrina Strauss said...

Bad boys are just sexier, period. Whether a rogue with a heart of gold like Han Solo, or just flat out conflicted and tortured villain like Anakin Skywalker. (I'm a Star Wars dork, so naturally I would use the above two for handy reference!) For one thing, they tend to wear all black, with a preference for leather. They generally have either long hair or "freshly-bedded" tousled hair. They are usually tall, slender, with a body to die for. They also tend to, erm, like it rough. >:) And yes, that cocky arrogant attitude...wouldn't want to live with it 24/7, but yeah I'd bask in their smug confidence for a well-spent hour or two. ;) I, myself, relate most to the outcast rebel type in real life, so when writing my own lead males, I blend both alpha and rogue traits, throw in a sexy black wardrobe, and voila, fantasy fulfilled. >:)

~ Katrina Strauss
Erotica and Dark Romance Author

ADR Forte said...

I'm not sure I want a bad boy.
I definitely want a naughty boy.

A boy with a little feisty in him, who likes to push the envelope and bend the rules into twisty, interesting shapes.
But who can keep up the appearance of being a very proper boy when he chooses to... with only a sly, wicked smile to give him away.

I want boys who give me a little bit of a challenge. Who make me worry just a little bit sometimes.

I think that's the difference between the bad boy and the naughty boy. Bad boys are flat out headaches. Naughty boys know the consequences and how far they can take their bad behavior without doing real damage.

They have self control and they're smart. They don't unintentionally do stupid/crazy/dangerous things the way a bad boy would. They premeditate.
And in a way that makes them more intriguing and dangerous.

But the best thing of course about naughty boys is that they deserve spankings :)

Nikki Magennis said...

I agree about naughty boys. Like when you meet a new man and have the following conversation with a friend:

Friend: 'So, is he nice?'
Girl: 'Yes, he's lovely.'
Friend: 'Great. But he's not, you know, too nice, is he?'

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

I know this is 2 days tardy, but I just thought I was the only girl alive who dug JR-M in Gormanghast. So creepy, skinny, hot, and evil.