Movie Bad Boy = New Prince Charming?

Is it true that love conquers all?

Posted Apr 27, 2012

Enter a handful of the movie bad boys of the past decade. All appear in romantic comedy and dramas as men who use and abuse women, drink excessively, and are completely unrealistic as strong relationship partners. In the film The Ugly Truth, an attractive and successful single television producer finds herself falling in love with a misogynistic and crude television show host. In The Accidental Husband, a successful radio talk show host leaves her current loving and kind fiancée for an angry, vengeful fireman.

Lead actors in such films as Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, Failure to Launch, and How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days play a series of men, with a womanizing past unwilling to make a commitment. And yes, I realize Matthew McConaughey was the culprit in most of these examples. But with messages in such films that the bad boy is thoroughly redeemable and that love conquers all, it is understandable as to one of the many reasons why so many women remain in bad relationships for so long. While in the past, the romantic comedy genre has filled the heads of many young women with visions of soul mates and fairy tale dates, this trend in films is in some ways potentially more hazardous. These men often engage in dangerous behaviors, ranging from excessive alcohol consumption to violence as a means of proving their manhood. The male lead in these films rarely passes up the opportunity to deliver a black eye to another male character. Yet, in all these films, there is always a happy ending between these men and the leading women.

While many of us are able to tell the difference between film plotlines and real life, repeated exposure to seemingly plausible occurrences may blur these lines in impressionable minds. Cowan and Kinder (1985) noted that the notion of “prince charming” is an antiquated myth and its continued portrayal in films has largely done a disservice to women by reinforcing the myth.

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*A portion of this article previously appeared in The Amplifer (2010)