Thursday, June 20, 2013

What do we have against nice guys?

Nice guys: the ones that care for the people around them and do everything they can to help in tough situations.  The ones who have their heart in the right place.

Currently rewatching a bit of Stargate Universe and, yes, I'm a geek.  So Eli is mt favorite character.  And his dismissal into the "friend zone" with Chloe, and then the death of Gin pissed me off.  And I think it comes down to the perpetuation of the idea that all the Sh*** happens to the "nice guy."

"Nice guys finish last." & "Good girls like bad boys."  A bunch of crap.

The storylines depict the more jaded, edging characters getting into relationships easier.  Not that Eli doesn't have his own baggage, but they treat his as if it were the concerns of the stereotypical "Mamma's Boy."   But in real life?  If you're in college and you mom has no one but you and she is diagnosed with some serious chronic illness and you *don't* go home to help out--that's not just "bad boy," that's downright amoral.

That's not just "nice guy," that's a moral individual.

What does the perpetuation of these classifications say about our society?

I will acknowledge first that every character must have flaws and that moral uncertainty makes for good storytelling.  But characters can face moral uncertainty, and have flaws, without being "bad guys." Geez--a villian doesn't need to be a "bad guy." He/She just needs to have an idea of the world that wrecks havoc on our protagonist and creates an adversarial relationship.

The perception I would gather is that if your hero and villain are both "good guys," that tension would be hard to create.  I would disagree.  If both had moral compases that led them down what they thought were the "right path" but were in actual opposition, the moral uncertainty can lead to more complicated questions of human nature than a simple explanation of some people being bad, having bad traits/characteristics or negative aspects to personality.

But it seems to me that our reliance on this idea and glorification of outlaws in American society presents evidence of a society that not only likes breaking the rules, but would rather see villains triumph, see vileness win over "good."

What does this teach kids?

I always come back to this because kids soak up and sort everything in their experience to create an understanding of their place in the world and proper interactions with the people around them.  As the most impactful aspect of the "Nice Guy" stereotype deals with relationships. What model are we giving young men?  The guy who treats the girl with respect fails to earn her love?  Or he is doomed to lose her because a nice guy can't keep her interest? He's boring?  So it is better to act contrary the rules and not treat girls respectfully, or play down the fact that you do respect girls when in the company of other guys?

Small wonder we're having issues with  teens committing sexual violence and media self-blaming victims.  We think girls should like this sort of thing as it smacks of "Bad Boy."

Seriously disturbing, IMO.

But this issue is connected to something else I've seen/heard lately.  The idea that feminism is no longer relevant.  If women are being raped, subjugated, objectified, and told they should like guys that will hurt them in one way or another--you tell me, do women have equality in a society that paints that picture of relationships? If there is any power-play in a relationship there is no equality.

Furthermore, if we think that girl/women should choose more darkly complex, morally ambiguous boys/men then we are arguing the 1950's idea that women are emotionally driven and incapable of choosing a path that is in their own interest.  No logic, all feeling.

Does that sound like a post-feminist world to you?

Granted, I'm a woman, and I'll relate this issue back to women's rights and abilities and I know there is a whole facet to male identity construction in the United States that is undergoing a major transition.  It's shaky and acting very threatened atm.  I understand this-- intellectually--but do not have the experience or knowledge on that element to do more than mention it.

Have you seen any nice guys get the girl?  Triumph over their foes in a recent movie/show/book?


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