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The Apathetic Bad Boy Isn’t Cool

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at VCU chapter.

Leather jackets. Motorcycles. Mysterious. Broody.

Chances are, these few images brought to mind a typical “bad boy.” From Bender in “The Breakfast Club” to Jess in “Gilmore Girls”, Hollywood constantly pumps out this typical bad boy trope time and time again. Often, this character somehow has a heart of gold while still maintaining his dirt-bag exterior. Clichés are clichés for a reason: they work. And the bad boy character works; time and time again women are attracted to the stoic, leather-clad leading role. He is “too cool for school” and remains an apathetic dream-boat throughout the story.

But I want a leather-clad, motorcycle-riding, dark haired leading man who is incredibly passionate about something, anything. I want a sci-fi nerd or an ardent environmentalist. I want an avid stamp collector or straight-A student. I want to see a romanticized character who has feelings and emotions and passions beyond looking cool, skipping class and whatever leggy blonde got cast as the love interest (Nothing against leggy blondes, you are all beautiful. But diversity is also beautiful). Apathy is not cool.  Apathy is not sexy. Apathy is boring. Defined, apathy is “lack of interest, enthusiasm or concern.” Why is this considered a desirable attribute? Why is it considered “cool” when a man is dispassionate and aloof?

This apathetic bad-boy trope only plays out well in the movies where the nice girl can “fix” the usually promiscuous and aloof (aka rude) guy. A study in Psychology Today speculated that the reason women find attraction to this trait has to do with societal ideas of masculinity and “male quality” and less with what they actually desire in a partner, such as monogamy and kindness. Psychology Today talks about the Dark Triad found in men with “bad boy” traits. This triad entails narcissism, psychopathy and machiavellism, none of which are traits anyone should seek out in a significant other. In this case, psychopathy often involves apathy and superficial charm. Machiavellism also involves a level of fake charm in addition to manipulation. So while it may work in “Grease” or the latest Nicholas Sparks novel, it doesn’t usually play out well in real life. Once the mystery is gone and the honeymoon phase is over, the apathetic people are no longer sexy; they are boring and toxic.

So stop seeking out the apathetic bad boys and seek out people who are passionate and enthusiastic and kind. Find people who want adventure and spontaneity. Find the people you can have intriguing discussions about anything and everything with at three in the morning; the people who win trivia nights or take dance classes; the people that say “I love you” and mean it. These people will help you to be your best self and be a positive and interesting influence in your life. 

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Katie, a Senior at VCU, is majoring in International Studies focused in European studies and is minoring in both Spanish and Writing. She credits all success and sanity to dry shampoo, The Arctic Monkeys, and chocolate. Her favorite things include argumentative essays, pitbull puppies (or really any puppy), and spring. Katie hopes to one day get paid to travel the world and write.
Keziah is a writer for Her Campus. She is majoring in Fashion Design with a minor in Fashion Merchandising. HCXO!