Sunday, January 11, 2009

Human Evolution and why we love the "Bad Boy"

What do British racecar driver Damien Hill, Virgin magnate Sir Richard Branson, Sir Francis Drake, Sir Richard Burton (translator of the Kama Sutra), the first homo erectus out of Africa, and my alien romance hero Prince Djetthro-Jason have in common?

They are (or were) all thrill seekers, high level risk takers, extreme sportsmen, and no doubt were considered a menace to society by one or two of their more sedate contemporaries.

Margaret's Thursday blog changed my mind about what I'd say in my first blog of 2009. I've been in the UK for a month, exposing myself to BBC TV and also to "DAVE", and one of the very fascinating documentaries I saw was by a TOP GEAR frontman (who is a bit of a daredevil badass himself).

It was about fear and fearlessness. It was also about human evolution.

Some people don't feel fear the way most of us do. Some feel it more. Some a lot less.

Now, I wouldn't want to go on one of those extreme Disneyworld rides. I'm like the Top Gear guy's mother, who patently didn't enjoy some monster ride. It took a trip down a bobsled ride (where his head could have been ripped off by an unforgiving wall of ice at any moment) to scare the Top Gear guy.

Apparently, people who choose to do dangerous things for fun or for profit are genetically a bit different. It takes a lot to excite them. They aren't happy with normal, sociable thrills. They are the sort who will pick fights to make life a little more interesting.

I'm not sure they are covered in the Beatitudes. There's no "blessed are the troublemakers and the mavericks..." as far as I recall.

In peacetime, they are a bit of a nuisance. They tend not to be team players. They go off on dangerous adventures, get themselves into trouble and have to be rescued by the Coastguard.

However, their continued --persistent-- existence, and their inability to be like the rest of us, is a hint that mankind has not lost its capacity to evolve. The gene that brought "us" out of the sea, out of the trees, out of caves, out of Africa, across frozen land bridges and across vast oceans on papyrus rafts (if Thor Heyerdahl was correct) and on open longships and on galleons, and into space is still with us.

We will evolve in space. A visit to the Johnson Space Center tells us that. Our heads will get bigger, and the rest of our bones will lose mass. We'll suffer kidney stones until we adapt. Perhaps we'll evolve bigger plumbing. Something happens to spines, too, but I cannot recall if they elongate... I rather think they do, because I remember thinking that tricky surgery to correct stenosis of the spine could be done in a space station.

Which brings me to the great mystery of Romance literature: why we love "bad boy" heroes.

Possibly, we like to dream of the vampires, the werewolves, the mutants and cyborgs, the pirates, the rakes, the highwaymen, the bikers, the hit men, secret agents and licensed killers because something deep within us ( us ladies) is ready to be turned on by dangerous guys like this when our world changes, and breeding selectively with them becomes necessary for the survival of the species.

And now for something completely irrelevant....

While I was away, I was thrilled to discover that Knight's Fork won the Authors' Choice Book of the Month award. Thank you to all the authors who voted for Knight's Fork. Thanks also to all the readers who voted. I understand that for a while, it looked like Knight's Fork might take both awards!


  1. 'Human Evolution and Why I DON'T Love the Bad Boy'

    Bad Boys die young or run off with the next set of perky boobs to bounce along. They make LOUSY fathers. Raising children alone is extremely hard work and children who grow up without dads have a tough time of it. This stunts societal growth. For a family-minded girl like me, Bad Boys are a huge turn-off.

    For a girl only out for thrills, he's perfect - so long as she has reliable contraception and the means and strength and desire to be a single mom.

    Now, I love a Bad Boy with hidden strength which comes to the surface for the love of a good woman. I guess it all depends on how convincing his Intimate Adventure is.

  2. Two comments
    1) I always thought the appeal of the bad boy to women was the status of being able to bring something dangerous to heal, like keeping venomous snakes or large aggressive dogs.

    I agree with Kimber An,Bad boys are useless in almost all real world situations. They become bad boys because they are psycologicaly deficient and can't interact with other humans. They and far more trouble than they are worth except as proof our your status as alpha bitch, to increase your rank with other alpha bitch type females.

    2) "...They go off on dangerous adventures, get themselves into trouble and have to be rescued by the Coastguard...."

    Of course the Costies doing the rescuing have all the same traits channeled into a socially acceptable career making them "heroes" instead of "bad boys".