Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Devil I Know

“You sure do like the bad boys.”

That was a comment from a coworker visiting my cube. Don’t worry. It wasn’t someone sexually harassing me or editorializing on my love life. It was a very literal comment from a fellow nerd.

It was because of this:
Walter White. Bane. The Alien, a tribble, and Arya (who is not as much a bad guy as a badass). Those are my desk buddies. Excuse me, but they are not toys. They are collectable action figures. OK, they are toys. And for the record, only 50% of them are actually boys. Arya is most certainly a girl (according to my niece, you can tell by the eyelashes). The Alien is a Queen, and she would be happy to discuss it further with you. The tribble? Well, truth is, I haven’t examined it that closely.

But, all joking aside, my coworker did pose an interesting question. Why am I attracted to the bad guys?

The short answer is: I’m really not. Not in real life. I won’t ever buy a Ray Rice jersey. I don’t read books about Charles Manson or Dick Cheney. I don’t give two shits what Sarah Palin has to say today, tomorrow, or ever.

The more involved answer is that—like it or not—the bad guys are attractive.

For the record, I have both a Superman and Batman shirt. I dressed as Wonder Woman last Halloween. I do love a good hero. Thinking about that for a moment, I can see an interesting trend. I like to collect the bad boys. But I like to BE the hero. I am sure there is some psychology student’s thesis in that.

And to be fair, I don’t have the really scary villains displayed on my desk. The ones made of the purist evil. Even that prickly little Alien, she was only trying to protect her kids. And, really, those humans were invading her space.

But I don’t have the Jason Voorhees trading card. I don’t really care about Lex Luthor. And I never want to be near a plastic clown toy from It.

Aside: Here is proof that clowns are Satan’s little helpers. When I was about Kidlet’s age, my Dr. Sister and I both had these cute clown dolls with big, painted-on smiles and silky outfits with ruffles around the sleeves. Dr. Sis was pretty attached to hers, and it got a little grungy—as cherished cuddle objects are wont to do. It was the early days of cable television, and we were often sent into the deep, dark woods of daytime HBO unsupervised. And it was there that everything changed in our young lives… One day, we were watching Poltergeist… with that horrible clown doll… I mean the one parked in my sister’s lap, not the one on the TV trying to strangle the fictional kid living in the haunted house.

Shudder. Anyway…

But hells yeah I love Loki, Darth Maul, Keyser Soze. OMG. Is there a Keyser Soze action figure?!? I must have it!

I think my point is this… I abhor evil for evil’s sake. I don’t understand it and I want to be far away from it. There has been real, true evil that has touched my life. Sometimes it is the organic evil of encroaching disease. Sometimes it is the man-made evil that I have unknowingly unleashed into my life and the life of my Kidlet. I know what real evil looks like. And I want nothing to do with it. Not in the real world or in the world of make-believe. In my literature, film, and pop-culture consumption, I have never cheered for the true evil.

But, as is evident in my office cube, I have a clear and overt attraction to characters who are strong, and brave, and even brutal, if brutality is called for. I don’t always agree with their methods or their causes. But these super bad boys (and girls) are doing what they need to do to survive. I understand why Dexter kills, why Deadpool is a mercenary, why Catwoman steals.

I get that. I even, in some ways, admire that. And yes, I do like those bad boys.

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