Gone are the days when prince charming would come riding on a white horse, destroy the evil villain and restore peace and power. Gone are the days when the good won over the evil, and the white knight destroyed the dark knight, stealing our hearts in the process. Now days the scenario has changed. The place of the quintessential hero has been replaced instead by that of an antihero. No one wants a good guy anymore, who follows rules and regulations, abides by the code of conduct and is always morally right. Instead people prefer the bad boy, the one who doesn’t mind breaking a few (read many) rules to get what he wants, the one who doesn’t let any moral rules or principles dictate his actions, a badass guy who would do anything as and when he pleases. The audiences today don’t want the goody two shoes guy, but instead root for the bad boy to come in and swoop the glory and the girl away. People today seem to prefer the antihero over the hero.
This trend can easily be seen through the changing face of the lead characters in today’s popular culture. Take for example The Vampire Diaries, a show airing on the CW network; a story about two vampire brothers Damon and Stefan Salvatore. As the story goes, Stefan is the good brother, the morally conscious one, always doing the right thing, in love with the girl of his dream. And in contrast to him is his brother, Damon, who is everything bad that his brother is not. He’s the bad boy who rips people’s heads off for fun, and will kill anything that gets in his way. If his brother is the quintessential hero, with the hero hairdo, Damon is the quintessential antihero with his leather jacket and don’t give a damn attitude about rules. He is the dark character who is generally very antagonistic in the show, yet the good girl protagonist of the show Elena Gilbert eventually falls for him. Not only did the bad boy manage to win over heroine’s heart but you have majority of the audiences rooting for Damon, wanting him to end up with the girl. His ever charming bad boy attitude has attracted his female fans to him, very well showing that it’s the bad boy the audiences crave more than the good one.
One of the biggest TV hits that ended this year, Breaking Bad too had a lead character who was an antihero. In fact the shows lead character Walter White starts off as your average hero, docile, good, family man, abiding the rules. Until he gets a death sentence thrust on him, his cancer. And ever since that moment the hero qualities in him start to fall and he starts to posses all the qualities of the bad boy. Cooking crystal meth, becoming a drug dealer, killing people as if he is squatting a fly, disposing of a body by dissolving them in acidic plastic barrels, all becomes natural to him. So much so that he starts enjoying the power that comes along with being the villain. Rarely does a top TV show take its central character and turn him into the show’s antagonist. You would expect the ratings of the show to fall, but instead not only did the shows viewership increase phenomenally, the audiences loved the “Heisenberg” aspect of the lead character more than his goody two shoes character. Clearly showing that the audiences prefer their hero’s to be gun wielding, ass kicking badass guys rather than being the perfect people.
Even the hit BBC TV show Sherlock stands a testament to the fact that audiences want the bad boy. Anyone who is a fan of the show will vouch for the fact that Sherlock Holmes is definitely not hero-like. Nor does he possess any of the hero-like qualities. He is rude, brash, has total disregard for other people’s feelings, enjoys murders, has no regards for people’s lives and in his own words “He might be on the side of the angels, but don’t for one second think I am one of them.” He is the main lead of the show, and he is a bad boy and yet the entire world is crazy about the character and the show. Even his arch nemesis Jim Moriarty, who is cuckoo crazy, has a lot of takers. People seem to enjoy watching these two bad boys in action and they’d rather have Sherlock in all his bad boy glory, rather than have him turned into the good guy.
The dangerous quality that these bad boys bring along with them is what attracts people towards them. Their rebellious charm brings along with a sense of adventure. Everyone likes the adrenaline rush that comes when you watch these bad boys on screen break a few rules and challenge authority. The sense of excitement that they bring is what makes them appealing. Moreover people don’t like seeing perfect good guys on screen because everyone knows reality is completely the opposite. Moreover good guys can often be boring. Hence they tend to prefer the perilous bad boys. These bad boys seem to be giving the good guys a run for their money, but hey! No one’s complaining!