Monday, 19 April 2010

Nice boys poop

Guys in young adult novels are freaks right?

They listen to the girl in their life.
They are sensitive and protective to just the right extreme.
They read books, listen to sappy songs and think about the future.
They are heroic, gallant, etc., etc., blah blah blah.

So the question I started thinking about is are authors setting up false expectations of nice guys for girls?

Will a teenage girl read a book and think that guys like Edward, Peeta and Sam actually exist? Will they hold out for that chivalrous, poetry reading, classical music loving, baking gods who make their knees go weak - plus he could probably slit their throat if the situation called for it, but he'd do it with feeling. :)

Are these literary guys ruining a generation of girls with a lie that real guys can't live up to?

Personally, I think no.

No-one questions whether classic literary figures spoil our expectations. I've never heard anyone complain that Mr. Darcy or Mr. Rochester or Heathcliff set a bad example. And these guys have been aloof, mysterious and consumed by love with dangerous consequences for a lot longer.

I know, have known - and dated - nice guys. Guys who hold the door open for you. Guys who listen and who you can share an intelligent conversation. Guys who are emotional and sensitive. Can they get grumpy, snap at you and sometimes - shock, horror - ignore you when you are being over-dramatic? Yeah. But even us girls sometimes do that :)

Are nice guys out there? Yes. And the best thing is they are real.

Maggie Stiefvater the author of Shiver (and other awesome books) also answered the question on her blog. I think her answers are interesting.

Also, check out this Jackson Pearce clip and her response to the question:

So remember, nice guys DO exist...and they poop.


Angela said...

I've read a few criticisms of the Twilight series because of the message it potentially gives to teenage girls...good girl goes stark raving mad over bad boy and will do anything to be with him (such as risking the loss of her soul).

I think books are fiction, and it's best if we keep that in mind when writing or reading them. Making characters too realistic isn't imaginary enough for me. Should they have faults? Definitely. But the fanciful hero/love interest makes for a more interesting novel IMO.

Lydia Kang said...

That's why I love making sure everyone has some faults. The whole "perfect guy" thing never flies for me.
Great post!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I don't mind books setting the bar high when it comes to finding a great guy, though I doubt the ones in Sarah Dessen books actually exist. The guys seem too mature for their age, but I still love them.

The books that bug me are the ones that make the bad guy the better choice. Sweet and caring is better than hot looking jerk any day. ;)

Jaydee Morgan said...

Interesting post. For me, it depends on the story - sometimes you want the fantasy; other times, you want "real" characters and all their flaws.

leandrajm said...

Very funny post! Sadly, sometimes I wish my husband were more like the guys in the books I read, but I know they're fiction, not reality...dang it! =)

Stephanie said...

Excellent topic! Great responses, too. I agree with Jaydee.I think I'll go blog further thoughts myself!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I love this post! I married one of those nice guys (they really DO exist) and I think this post is a valuable reminder that they're not necessarily (ok, ever) perfect. :-)

Medeia Sharif said...

I don't think authors are setting up false expectations. Many people read to get away from reality, and most girls know the difference between pretty boys in books and real life boys with flaws.

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

Thanks for the comments guys:)

Angela, I agree. I think that you always have to keep that perspective when reading :)

Lydia, I love that you give your characters flaws. Makes them a bit more real.

Stina. I agree, bad guys being the better choice annoy me too. But I see why girls love them, they think they can soften them:)

Jaydee. Excellent point. Sometimes you want the fantasy:)

Lendrajm. Hehee.

Stephanie. Love the thoughts on your blog regarding this:)

Shannon. Glad you liked the post. Yay, nice guys exisit:)

Medeia. I agree with you. I don't think it's false expectations. Sometimes I don't think teens are given credit for knowing the difference.

Jana Hutcheson said...

I like heroes who are perfect in all the "important" ways. Loves the girl, places her needs before his own, etc. But I also like for them to be "all man" which means they shouldn't be a pushover and they should have a couple of annoying habits or something else that keeps them from being too perfect.

Jen said...

Great post! I think it's important to know that nice guys do exist out there but that doesn't mean there aren't still bad eggs. I know reading those romance novels can get me in trouble but with Susan E. Phillips she always makes the real guy, the one who is all into himself and needs an attitude adjustment... they just need that for YA too!!!

Deb Salisbury said...

LOL! Love the title. Great post!

Creepy Query Girl said...

Yes, Good guys exist, actually I think they're pretty easy to find if you look.

But bad boys are OH so much fun:)

Zoe C. Courtman said...

Ooh, great topic, Lindsay! For me, I have to pen my male characters with some serious flaws, because for me, it makes 'em nice and *chunky*, i.e., full of interesting depth. Nice post!

Kat Harris said...

Hi Lindsay! I found you through lbdiamond's link.

I love this! It's so important to remember the poop factor. This goes well with the philosophy I've tried to pass on to my teenage daughter: "Nice guys are like public toilets. The good ones are taken. The rest are full of poop."

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

Jana. Love your example of how you like a lit guy to be :)

Jen. Yeah, there aren't many "into themselves" heros in YA. Maybe one day we should co-author one of those books ;)

Deb. The title makes me laugh too. Thanks for the link back:)

Creepyquerygirl, oh how true. Bad boys are fun.

Zoe. Ooh, I like that phrase, interesting depth.

Kat. Thanks for visiting and following. Great to have you here. Love your quote: "Nice guys are like public toilets..." hehee.

Aspen said...

Funny that I should stumble onto your blog today. I was actually thinking about this earlier. These ponders of mine came from the thought that burst into my mind while I should have been thinking about my lit history final: "Oh my gosh, my male MC is such a bastard, am I going to make girls hate boys?"

I still don't have the answer to that question, but after reading your post I feel a little better knowing that if they start hating boys because of him, they have boys like Edward, Peeta and Sam.

Plus, my male MC isn't all that bad ;)