Where strange fact and stranger fiction collide
There is a saying that goes that goes ‘all the girls want a bad boy.’ I am not here to argue that one way or another, at least not the real life aspects of that quote. But in fiction sometimes the villain can be more compelling than the hero. And let’s face it who out there doesn’t love a well written bad girl.
Recently I watched a Australian science fiction movie called Crawl Space. it turns out that the innocent looking blonde was really an alien hybrid that was twisting the people’s memories and killing off the cast one by one. In the finial battle as the instillation she was housed in is being destroyed I was thinking ‘gee I hope that depraved alien killer escapes.’ Now normally I don’t like shows were the bad guy wins, but well I was making an exception because, she was cute, and turned out to be so evil. I am a sucker for non-real bad girls
One reason we like the sociopathic, bisexual vampire assassins, is that well they’re fiction, there are no repercussions for our relationships with them. Now in real life it probably isn’t a good idea to hook up an amoral jewel thief, but hey we can read Cat Woman comics all day, and all we might lose is a couple hours and $3.99 an issue. Fictitious villainesses let us fantasize about things that we probably shouldn’t do in real life.
Bad girls also are not tied down by society’s mores. There is a freedom that comes from just not giving a dang about what others think. They give a sexy manicured middle finger to The Man and his laws. A bad girl, even a heroic one, is free to do what she pleases. This is not only hot it is liberating. It’s why we like mountain men and cowboys. It’s American. In reality you can’t steal a Ferrari drive recklessly on the freeway while drinking Jack Daniels and run over a zombie, but hey it’s cool in the stories. This is why I like Faith Lehane more than Buffy Summers or Black Widow more than Sue Storms. They are free spirits.
Now bad girls can be heroes too. They just reject society’s morels, but when the pushers come to shove they do the right thing. They drink, smoke, have casual sex, but are willing to fight the good fight against the greater evil. Jenny Sparks made a hundred year career doing this.
To show this applies to both males and females the best example of a bad girl heroine is Han Solo. The male version of the BG is the charismatic rouge. Let’s face for 1977 cinema, when we first meet Han, he is not a nice guy. Han shot first (why are we still debating that), the ‘spice’ he smuggles is a hard drug, he works for a gangster, and in the original script, when we meet the Corillian smuggler he was snuggled up to a woman named “Jenny” this was taken out because Lucas thought that if it was left in, having him with a different girl then flirting with Leia would make him seen unredeemable. But still at the end Han does what is right even if it is against his better judgment.
There are many female characters that fallow this path. Violet Song Jat Shariff from Ultaviolet, Electra the Assassin, (Or any other female Frank Miller characters for that matter), Project Alice from Resident Evil, Aeon Fluxx. Lisbeth Salander from the Millennium Trilogy and Beatrix Kiddo (AKA the Bride form Kill Bill), Xena to name a few. These ladies have the best of both world a vanilla/chocolate combo sundae of good girl/bad girl.
The bad girl is a very sexualized trope. Part of it is because sex in fiction is interesting. No actually it really it isn’t. Sexuality is interesting. Flirting, tension, seduction and self confidence in a character (male or female) is interesting. But the actual act on the page or on the screen is well kind of boring. Once the main characters get to the act, I am like, OK, they are having sex, let’s get through this for the next two and half minutes so we can get back to the story. But sexuality and knowing she has it can make a character interesting.
The word sex has always been connected with the bad girl. ‘Good girls don’t do it.’ With very few exceptions bad girl characters are sleek young and sexy. (I am looking at you Rosa Klebb, get on with your bad self.) And one reason is that historically sex has been the great equalizer. Women in history didn’t have much control over others and (legally) themselves. But sex was a way that they could influence their surroundings. This has worked itself into fiction.
Convectional wisdom is that the reason girls dig bad boys, is that they think they can change them. I don’t know if that is true or not, I am not qualified to comment on this in real life. But as aspects of fiction I think one of the lures of bad girls is not that we think we can change them, but subconsciously we want them to change us. We want to be seduced. We want them to give us a reason to cross the line. To reject the rules and constraints that our world has shackled us with. It not about salvation, it about falling.
So let’s raise a Champagne glass to the seductive, free spirited, rebel and fictitious bad girl. Next time I will share some examples of some my favorite bad girls.