I wrote that all sorts of influences tell us about love. One of the most pervasive, though misleading, themes running through songs in my teen years was the “bad boy.” Always misunderstood always alluring, the bad boy was held out as a desirable catch. In the song “He’s a Rebel”, The Crystals told us that everyone said he would never be any good, but they knew better. Everyone being opposed to the romance heightened the excitement.
After reading a recommendation from beetleypete’s blog, I watched “The Third Man,” starring Orson Welles as the “bad boy.” Although a “good man” becomes available(Joseph Cotton) our female lead sticks with the ne’er do well. “I love him,” seems reason enough for her.
It makes for good pop songs and intriguing movies, but how helpful is the idea in real life? Sadly the love of a good woman doesn’t always change the “bad boy.” In fact, many of those fascinating teenagers turn out to be unreliable and undependable not so grown men. The plea that “I love him,” confuses close friends and seems a poor reason to tolerate appalling behavior no longer attractive in an adult.
So I am grateful that while I enjoyed watching James Dean lounge seductively around, I was never fooled. I had seen the adult version in the fathers of a couple of my friends. They held no appeal. The life of the party, they were inattentive and unattractive husband material. I went for the “good guy” and I am glad I did. But when he puts on dark glasses and throws his jacket over his shoulder, there is just enough “bad boy” to keep things interesting.