I was going to write about my obsession with Cold Case, but then it occurred to me that A)it’s probably pretty dull to read about (unless you’re a fan, in which case, please comment! But keep in mind I’m quite a bit behind) and B)that would probably only lead me to one of the reason I love Cold Case so much, and it’s because I have a geeky love thing for Det. Valens. I loooove him. Why? Well, he’s fairly hot, although not in that “Oh my God who is THAT?” kind of way. No, I love him because he bit the living snot out of that pedophile in the park. Just walked up to the guy, presumable led him away into that tunnel or whatever, and beat the man into a bloody pulp.
That’s when it occurred to me. With very few exceptions, the heroes in my books tend to be, well, pretty damn violent. They fight with swords or they beat people up for a living or whatever. Why is this? Why did I, as an eight-year-old, form such an attachment to Conan? (BTW they’re apparently remaking the Conan movie-the first one, the good one. Blasphemy!) (BTW again I read an article once by a woman who interviewed Schwarzenegger not too long after his election as Governor. He keeps his Conan sword in his office. He let her hold it. I think I would die if I got to actually hold Conan’s real sword.)
I digress. My point is, leaving out, of course, men who are violent or abusive towards women (which is so unsexy I don’t even need to tell you how revolting it is), what is it about a man who thinks with his fists that’s so appealing? Is it because we see it as a sign of virility, because our little hormones were hot wired in prehistoric times to go for the man who could protect us against wild animals or whatever, and so fighting prowess automatically equals sexy?
I would think so, but I’ve had the sneaking suspicion at times–usually when reading other romance novels in which the hero is supposed to be tough but actually behaves like a friggin’ eunuch–that there aren’t too many women out there who think the way I do. I’ve often felt there’s an unwritten rule in romance writing that while it’s okay to talk about how tough your hero is, and to discuss battles he fought and won, it’s somehow distasteful to depict him really and truly kicking the shit out of people, especially if maybe he enjoys it a little bit.
And we musn’t dare imply the heroines are turned on by watching Our Hero kick ass. Noooo, they’re all supposed to hate his violent drinking roughhousing side, because it means they have to spend more time making poultices from recipes passed down by their grannies, instead of helping sick children or making pies or inventing plaster casts to help a sweet dog walk again. They want him to stop being so darned mean and rough and be all affectionate and looove people, and forgive his enemies, and whatever other crap we’re supposed to buy from those godawful Mary Sue-esque heroines who teach Our Hero how to get in touch with his feminine side.
Yes, there are exceptions. But to me this goes with the other unwritten rule about how the hero can never kill the bad guy. The bad guy can die, sure, but he’s always beset by bandits or taken ill or accidentally drowns. Blah. We cheer when Mel Gibson kills the bad guys, so why not our romance heros?
What do you think? How tough should he be? What particular form of violence turns you on, if it does, and if it doesn’t, why not? Can you think of any good examples of either a real, true, tough guy hero or a real, true, wimpish hero?