Pamela Lee Anderson was once involved in a physically abusive relationship with ex-Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee. The singer with the nightingale-like voice, the late Whitney Houston too had a rough time with the ill-tempered rapper Bobby Brown. Yes, the boys are bad, yet the public continues to remember and even love them. It makes you wonder: what really is it about bad boys that the world loves? Is it because their bad temper is not borne out of malice but is simply superficial? Is it sympathy for the underdog?
Psychiatrist Dr Nirmala Rao explains: “Individuals like these are emotional. They are ruled by their feelings. And no, they are not manipulative in the bad sense of the term. In fact, when they’re in a normal mood, they’re really loveable and give themselves totally to their partner. One of the reasons that make them react badly to a certain situation is that they expect as much as they give. However, it’s a problem that needs to be attended, because when this behaviour is triggered, their judgment gets completely clouded.”
And what exactly is it that ‘triggers’ this behaviour? “Being emotional, any external stimulus reaches the emotional part of the brain, or the right brain, first. Feelings overtake rationality and for a few seconds they lose control. It’s called ‘impulse control disorder’. They act out immediately on what they’re feeling. It lasts for a short time. But it’s important to remember that it’s a personality problem and not a mental problem.” But is it one incident like this which makes a relationship go awry? “No, it becomes a habit over a period of time. Sometimes the partner of the person unknowingly or knowingly set off the triggers that result in the bad behaviour of their partner. Nonetheless, in a good mood, they are good company, kind and shower lots of affection,” continues Dr Rao.
Actor Mandira Bedi agrees. “I suppose it’s nice to see somebody break the rules and break the mould. These guys aren’t bad by nature; they have good qualities. Salman for instance has done a lot of good, a lot of social work. I suppose bad boys have certain loveable qualities about them. Maybe it compensates in a way. If your good side is equally good, it makes for an interesting package. There’s a certain thrill of unpredictability and excitement. This makes for good boyfriend material, but not husband material,” she says.
And the public continues to ignore the private dirty laundry and love the image.
“The public fulfill their need for excitement and stimulation thru these popular ‘heroes’, who they see as larger-than-life, even if they’re not. And so, whatever they do is taken with a pinch, nay, a fistful of salt. Different parameters for what is right and wrong are ascribed for celebrities. There is a sympathetic ‘so what if he slips up once in a while’ attitude?” opines Clinical Psychologist Varkha Chhulani.
Actor Kim Sharma, who’s been through an emotional wringer of her own, agrees that while on a personal level, bad boys wear down a relationship, fans in general tend to feel sympathetic towards someone who’s always picked on, “I think people love the image of the ‘bad boy’ because of the underdog factor. Everybody loves the underdog and there’s a certain amount of sympathy that one feels for a guy who’s always picked on. The good is often overlooked. While the public may love a ‘bad boy various reasons, on a personal level, the ‘bad boy’ thrill is very temporary. After a while, you move on,” she concludes.
So be it sympathy for the underdog, the thrill of reading about the travails of having a larger-than-life hero, or the fact that bad boys live life in the fast, albeit a lonely lane.