Why do we love the bad guy?
I asked myself this question earlier today while I was in-between mind numbing calls. It just kind of jumped out at me, and my immediate answer was, because as much as he hurts us, at least he’s giving us attention. I’m not sure which dark ether of my subconscious that answer floated out of, but I’m sure there are plenty of therapists and other people that like to pretend their therapists online that can come up with some diagnosis.
I do want to spend more time exploring more of the question. Really take a magnifying to it and see what I can discover. I also thought it would be an interesting train of thought to ride (lord knows I’ve ridden plenty that went nowhere in no time at all) and I thought you’d like to join me to see the end of the tracks.
Why do we love the bad guy? A question I’ve asked three times now (a thousand pardons), and yet I still have no clear answer. No one really does. Of course there are the poets and philosophers of old that recite their quotes, but one quote is almost always countered by another with a differing perspective.
“You’re never too old to learn.” is a classic quote, but what about, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”?
Now, look how, “birds of a feather flock together” is matched when the saying “opposites attract” comes into play.
I’ll leave the examples there. My train of thought cannot get to the end of the tracks if I have to keep making stops. I’ll keep the examples in groups of two, for now. Let’s get back on track, shall we?
If you’ve been paying attention, no one has a definite answer for this question yet, so let’s have fun with this. No wrong answers. Total stream of consciousness is not only welcome, but encouraged. The quickest way down the river is following the current. I know we’re on a train of thought here and not a river, but you’re really going to have to let that one go. I thought of that phrase just now and I’m proud of it, so keep your comments to yourself on that one…
Anyway, when I first asked myself this question at my cubicle, I pictured movie bad guys first. The Joker, Hannibal Lector, Voldemort, characters like that. I was thinking on the horrible things some of the greatest movie villains commit and people eat it up like eye candy. I, myself, am a self-proclaimed horror movie druggie. After a while I start getting the itch and I have to watch one. Doesn’t matter what kind; new, old, silent film, low-budget, blockbuster, I can’t get enough. I especially enjoy serial killer movies. It’s sickening what we’re all capable of doing to one another when pushed enough into a corner or over an edge.
But, if it’s sickening then why are they so popular? Could be a lot of things: maybe we admire their courage to do whatever they want and not follow society’s rules; or perhaps there’s a fantasy, for some, to look down at someone and have that ultimate control over their life. I’m sure there’s more reasons then the two, and I bet a lot have some kind of religious context, but that’s neither here nor there.
Maybe the answer is so much simpler than we think, and we’re trying to answer a simple question with complexity. What if we love the bad guy because their free. Free to do what they want, when they want. When they decide. Not some boss or significant other. Them.
Think about it, even the slightest douchebag on the radar that loiters at the gas station is having some sort of take-that moment in his head. That’s because he’s defying society by loitering regardless of the frivolous sign hanging beside his head. In fact, let’s move this discussion into the constant chaos of reality.
Being defined as “bad” in a society means that it doesn’t follow that society’s set of guidelines. With what we’re discussing, I’d suggest we stick to more the social norms side being broken rather than laws since those are basically a baseline for breaking rules. If a law is broken, it is legally classified bad whether or not the law is appropriate, whereas breaking social norms can be seen as bad without it being illegal.
Yelling at someone to get a point across. While not illegal, it does paint a bad picture of the person in everyone’s minds. Cutting in a long line, cheating on a loved one, hitting or kicking something or someone you don’t like. Why do some people enjoy this behavior? Why do they enjoy breaking the rules and doing whatever they want? They feel big. They want any attention they can get. Good or bad. Humans crave recognition.
We all want to feel like we matter somewhere, to someone, but we also don’t want to be told what to do, where to go, when to do it. We want to make our own decisions, but the problems begin to build because it’s hard to do whatever you want and still have people enjoy your company. Just ask any drunk frat guy after he belly flops onto the beer pong table mid-finals and shatters the thin plastic wood into pieces. Not the owner’s favorite, that’s for sure.
I guess when it all comes down to it and I as I look at the clock to soberly realize how long I’ve been sitting here writing all this down (almost 2 hours at this moment), I believe I’ve located at least some useful scrap of answer over here next to the end of the tracks.
Plenty have come through here looking for the answer, seems to me. And the more I look at the ground around the tracks, I’m realizing a lot of the answer I’ve come to is plentiful here. Surely, I’m not the first to come to this finalization, and I won’t be the last, I can only hope. So, in my pocket of the world, and with a combination of my experiences and the knowledge and observations I’ve gained in my twenty-three years of life (19 of those years are actual conscious memory), I’ve come to an answer:
We love the bad guy because they are not afraid to live outside of society’s norms. They do whatever their heart desires, and that can be respected on any level.
To end this little discussion we’ve had here (he says to himself), I’d like to leave you with a thought. After all I’ve written here today on people and doing whatever they want regardless of rules, I notice it all kind of stems to humans wanting the freedom to do whatever makes them happy because it makes them happy. So, if I may end this with a horribly dark and twisted scenario (my specialty) followed by a question:
A woman who didn’t have time for breakfast notices a table overflowing with platters of bagels and cream cheese, but a sign on the table reads FOR MEETING ONLY, and she moves on with a growling stomach. In another place, another time, a psychopathic man is cleaning the blood off his freshly used knife. The mangled corpse of the woman sits propped up against the wall, he grins at the satisfying memory of it. My question for you is simply this, who is the happier person?