These men are all on the Arrogant Assitude Spectrum, (ASS) at varying degrees, no?
In my books, Christian Grey is on the far end of the continuum (Severe Arrogant Assitude):
"I don't know whether to worship at your feet or spank the living sh*t out of you."
-Christian Grey, Fifty Shades of Grey
Edward is somewhere in the middle (Moderate Arrogant Assitude):
“I’m the world’s best predator, aren’t I? Everything about me invites you in--my voice, my face, even my smell.”
-Edward Cullen, Twilight
We wouldn’t put up with arrogant assitude in our personal lives, would we? So why do we love our fictional ASS spectrum characters so much?
Many theories have been postulated. Some of them around the idea that we enjoy living vicariously through our fictional characters without having to actually deal with the real-life consequences in reality.
Some believe it has to do with women being naturally drawn to the “bad boy” and what he represents: Confidence, raw sexuality and risk-taking.
Others say it has to do with a woman’s desire for a man who is powerful, competent and can protect her (and future offspring).
I’m sure all of the above are definitely some of the reasons for why we will tolerate Arrogant Assitude from our fictional heroes.
One of the things I enjoy about these arrogant assitudes is that they are both terribly flawed. My nurturing, caregiving inner need is relentlessly tugged at by these tortured souls who are self-criminating, remorseful and who desperately love and want to be loved.
Yeah, I just admitted that, too. Publicly.
That being said, I still don’t think these aforementioned reasons are truly why I am so endeared to these beastly men. For me, it has to do with the emotional power of the writing.
Each of these authors are masterfully skilled at describing the heroine’s intense emotions invoked by the hero. And when I say masterful, I really mean it. There is something about reading these books that makes me forget to listen to my inner critiquer, and ignore obvious writing gaffes and instead focus on these characters and how they feel.
Both Fifty Shades and Twilight have an almost voyeuristic feel to the writing, as if you are truly experiencing the situation. Fifty Shades takes that voyeurism a step further, where you get all of the nitty gritty (and slippery) details. I think there is something very important to this, as well. But more on that later.
One of the similarities between Twilight and Fifty Shades has been the way they have resulted in such complete and total obsessional fandom. Twi-Hards are one of the most fanatical groups, and let’s not pretend the publishing industry hasn’t been forever altered as a result of Twilight. Fifty Shades also has a rock-solid following of mature women who would rather read about Christian Grey than speak to their own husbands.
So what’s the obsession about? Let’s think a little about the brain.
Obsessions are much like addictions. Addictions are rooted in brain chemistry, specifically, it is a result of the following chemicals known as Pleasure Hormones: Adrenalin, Dopamine and Seratonin. Let’s see what each of these hormones do to us:
According to AmazingBrain.org, Love and Sex releases the following hormones:
The initial stages of falling in love increases your blood levels of adrenalin and cortisol. This is why when you see your new lover, you break out in a sweat, your heart rate rockets and your mouth dries up.
This is the pleasure chemical, which stimulates the ‘desire and reward’ part of the brain. This hormone has the same effect as heroin!
“Couples often show the signs of surging dopamine: increased energy, less need for sleep or food, focused attention and exquisite delight in smallest details of this novel relationship” .
Serotonin is one of love's most important chemicals, and it is also the reason for why your new lover continually pops into your mind.
Did you know that watching pornography can trigger the same fall-in-love hormones as if you were truly falling in love or having sex? This fact certainly does illuminate why so many people are addicted to pornography, doesn’t it? It also explains the Fifty Shades and Twilight obsession/addiction.
These writers did one thing so well, it overshadowed anything they did wrong. They wrote in such a way to invoke a heady rush of brain chemicals, so potent, it was like heroin to our pleasure-starved brains.
Okay, so all of this explains our obsession with Edward Cullen and Christian Grey, but it still doesn’t explain why we put up with their assitude.
Well, there’s one more thing that happens with all of these hormones streaming through our brains:
“Newly smitten lovers often idealize their partner, magnifying their virtues and explaining away their flaws,” says Ellen Berscheid, a leading researcher on the psychology of love.
Ah ha! That’s it!
Okay. As a writer, what have we learned?
If you write a story in such a way to create an obsession-worthy hero, your reader will have a cascade of chemicals in their brain, telling them they’re in love, and they’ll overlook anything else wrong with them.
How the hell do we do that? Well, that’s a whole post in and of itself, isn’t it? But don’t worry, it’s one topic I’ll most definitely be blogging about shortly, so check back!
There you have it. Long-winded and convoluted, this is my opinion. What’s yours?