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Why Bad Boys Aren’t So Bad

A few summers ago, pirate mania hit fever pitch in southern California, and Goodwill has racks of glittery, skull and cross bones tank tops to prove it.  Anticipation for Pirates 2 was so great that lines for Pirates of the Caribbean swelled at Disneyland, and people began dressing as swashbucklers on otherwise average days.  It was like a contagion.

Chicks Always Fall for Bad Boys

By opening day of the movie, crowds had worked themselves into a frenzy.  Cheers erupted as Jack Sparrow emerged, victorious from a seafaring coffin, and applause swelled when he leapt bravely into the many-toothed jaws of the Kraken.  The next day, water cooler conversation revolved around the film, but all the guys wanted to know was why “chicks always fall for bad boys.”  As for the ladies, it was clear: the kiss Elizabeth planted on Jack Sparrow at the end was clearly a brave, self-sacrificial device employed to help save the rest of the crew from certain doom.

Alright, alright, it’s true.  Jack Sparrow ravished the hearts of women all over America, and it’s not because of his ratty hair, blackened teeth, and salty skin.  It’s because he’s a bad boy.

An Outlet for Badness

Bad boys have always held a certain appeal for women, and in spite of what good guys fear, it’s not because women find good guys boring (after all, we all saw Elizabeth leap breathlessly into Will Turner’s arms at the end of the third film).  On the contrary, it’s because they find sugar and spice and everything nice to be boring, and they’re looking for a way to experience the adventure, passion, and danger they feel emanating from bad boys.  Girls want an outlet for their own badness.

Pairing up with a pillager has benefits two-fold.  First, it lets ladies participate in peril without attracting harsh, social scorn.  A girl who engages in first-hand piracy tends to be the subject of sideways glances, hushed conversations, and even tabloid headlines.  She’s looked down upon as being unfeminine and is generally shunned by other women, who aren’t quite sure how to relate to her.  Even worse, all but a small minority of men are afraid of her.  Conversely, a guy who brandishes the bad boy sword can more than get away with it.  In fact, he often elicits the envy of other men and the admiration of women.  He can be a hero and a sex symbol and the star of a successful movie franchise.

Bad Girl Potential

Second, bagging a bad boy means a woman’s bad girl potential has been recognized and validated.  When a girl pines for a pirate, she’s also looking for affirmation that she is as unpredictable, witty, and powerful as he is.  She finds that affirmation the moment a rakish rogue shows interest in her.  This reassurance steers her away from being what she’s supposed to be and lets her sail the open seas of what she imagines herself to be.  After all, the bad boy doesn’t care about whether she laughs at his jokes and has a cute smile.  He sees that she’s wily and daring – or at least that she wants to be – and he loves her for it.

Heart of Gold

Finally, among the pirate’s many virtues is one important mystery, a treasure that is buried fathoms below the surface of the bad boy: the good man.  Unearthing that bit of gold is an adventure in itself, and the reward can be so substantial that its promise enlists a hearty crew of women who want to live in a no-man’s-land of scoundrel and hero.

So Captain Jack is a bad boy, and not just any bad boy, the very best kind of bad boy – the kind we suspect is good at heart.  And what of Will Turner?  It turns out he’s got the soul of a pirate, and he’s got the girl.

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One Response to “Why Bad Boys Aren’t So Bad”

  1. alliterative literary genius!

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