I worked all night and got in a very inspiring twenty minute conversation with my awesome agent first thing this morning. I've been trying to sleep now for three hours, but my brain's chugging away and this post has been writing itself in my head for about a week now. So maybe if I hash it out, I'll be able to get a decent nap in. (Any errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation, and overdose of -ly words are the complete fault of the late hour :)
Growing up, I loved Disney movies--my favorite being Sleeping Beauty, still is. The heroine is rescued by the hero/love interest...the damsel in distress. But in the books I've been reading recently, fairly popular ones at that, the heroine has saved the hero in some way. The hero is flawed, usually severely, and there's something special about the heroine that saves him.
The best Disney movie to illustrate that would be Beauty and the Beast. Beast is flawed. He has a temper, major rage issues, and is selfish. Belle saves him, makes him human. Besides Aurura (sleeping beauty), Belle is my favorite Disney princess. Probably because she's an obsessive reader like myself. She sacrifices herself to save her father, and in the process saves Beast. There's darkness in him, burying any light that might still live inside him. Something about Belle unearths that light, revives the human inside of him.Yes, Beast throws Gaston off the castle turrets, saving Belle, but Belle's love saves him.
Christian Grey is beyond flawed. In 50 Shades of Grey, all I could think was how completely stupid Anastasia Steele was for spending any time at all with Christian. If she was my best friend, even a random stranger, I would have encouraged her to run as fast and as far away from him as possible. (SPOILER ALERT) She does at the end of the first book, but not really for the right reasons. (I'm not really ruining anything here--there's two more books, obviously they find a way to overcome.) Whether it's because she's his soul mate, his other perfect half, chemically or pheromone-ally appealing to Christian, he is unable to stay away from her. SHE saves HIM in the end. She fights for him, with him and with others, refusing to abandon him. She makes him a better person, and for HER he wants to be and makes an effort to be.
Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire has another "hero", Travis, who the main character, Abby, should have run from as fast as she can. He drinks, is drunk, frequently (though he's underage); fights in an underground fight club at the college; is jealous, possessive and obsessive, not to mention his promiscuity. The author makes an extremely valid point when Abby's, aka Pigeon (which is so beyond derogatory when you look it up on urban dictionary and I can't believe the author tried to make it a complimentary nickname), roommate says, "Do you know what co-dependency is, Abby? Your boyfriend is a prime example, which is creepy considering he went from having no respect for women at all to thinking he needs you to breath." (pg 125). Travis goes from endless one-night stands, to monogamy. Abby's the only girl in his bed (ever), the only one to sleep over, the only one he ever says "I love you" to. While there are so many things wrong with Travis' attitude and his reactions, temper, etc, the complete ability of one woman to change him and make him better...lack of sleep isn't helping me word it well.
Maybe this will--why be the damsel in distress, rescued by a prince/hero, when you can do the rescuing? In reality, no woman wants an obsessive, possessive, insecure, needy, screwed-up man, who's boinked his way through tens and hundreds of other women, clinging to them as their one and only salvation.Yes, I love Aurora and Prince Phillip and how HIS kiss, his love, awakens her. (More realistic than Snow White where the Prince has never met her, kisses her, and they live happily ever after--Phillip and Aurora knew each other, albeit not well, but "once upon a dream" at least). But, in books right now, I'm in love with the idea of a man with many flaws who is irrevocably changed by a woman. SHE saves HIM.
I guess the whole purpose of this blog is try to make sense of my, and many others, obsession with reading and re-reading books like 50 Shades and Beautiful Disaster. Do I want a man who sees himself as a sadist, who enjoys bringing pain to people? No (however some of the other things...probably). Do I want a man who pancakes completely from womanizing to commitment, and sucks on tighter than a leech? No. Do I want to read about it, see the woman change the man, make him a better person and imagine them living happily ever after? If you could see the books on my Nook, you'd know that answer's Yes.