Thursday, February 5, 2009

When cliches take a life of their own

I was supposed to blog about the cultural hero today, but Sandra's post got me thinking in a completely different direction, about how we perceive heroes. The cultural hero will come next week, promise!

So, when cliches take a life of their own...

He was tall, dark, and handsome...

No need to tell you who this refers to - the hero, of course!

But, have you noticed how all romance heroes seem to fall under this description?

Let's try something else.

The best friend whose shoulder you'll always cry on is all the time boyish, maybe with a mop of curly hair, who half the time, is red or blond.

Or, the guy's shoulders are a mile wide.

Or, his hair is luxuriant.

Are you seeing a common thread here? All this is expected. You close your eyes and you picture this kind of description all the time.

Why? Because it's a cliche!

All the men in romance tend to look alike, a carbon copy in a sort.

I ask, aren't you fed up with men who all look, sound, feel alike? Why do we read romance? For escapism, for the HEA, but a major part of it is - to fall in love with the hero!

How then do you fall in love with one same man all the time? Isn't there scope for a variety of men out there? Women in real life aren't all attracted to the same kind of men. There's got to be someone who rocks everyone's boat but who won't rock yours. Case in point, I can't for the life of me drool on Johnny Depp. Throw whatever you want at me, he does absolutely nothing to me. Yet, women the world over would sell their souls to be with a man like him.

This kind of thing doesn't happen just to me. It happens to you too. Think of that geek you found cute. Or that hulking man who peopled all your fantasies once you set your eyes on him. Think of this fellow who caught your eye and you have no idea why coz he's a regular looking guy, nothing striking about him.

Heroes are supposed to be a transposition of real men to the fictional world. Why then would all heroes look like clones if we took them and placed them in the same room in the real world?

Kill the cliche. Emerge with a man who's unique. Why is he unique? Because he's different, and that's why and how your heroine falls for him. At the same time, this novelty is what will make women who read your work fall in love with him too.

Don't think a man has to be tall to woo. Think of Brad Pitt. He isn't a beanpole, is he? Same goes for Andy Garcia.

He doesn't need to be dark to be drool-worthy. One of the men women would die for and men would kill to look like is blond. His name is Daniel Craig.

Don't think he needs a mop of luxuriant hair that would make every woman envy him his locks. He doesn't have to be Patrick Dempsey and he can also be balding like Jason Statham.

Imagine a new hero. The world will thank you for it, because you brought a real guy to life in your story. And, nothing beats the real guy where love is concerned! We don't want a fantasy, or a world like the soaps which is filled with guys one so hunkier than the next we throw the towel in at the level of high-maintenance expected of us to just be able to stand next to them proudly.

No. We want a real man. Someone we could bump in at the corner store.

I'd love your comments. Feel free to tell me what sort of un-cliche man rocks your boat.

P.S. If ever all the guys you bump in at the corner store look like they come out of a soap opera, let me know. I'll relocate ASAP.

Aasiyah Qamar - Cultural romantic fiction, with a twistWith stories set amidst the rainbow nation of Mauritius, a multicultural island in the Southern Indian Ocean, author Aasiyah Qamar brings you tales of today's young women battling life on all fronts and finding love where they least expect it. Indo-Mauritian culture wants to stifle them in traditions, customs and antiquated morals while the world is opening its arms of modernity and globalisation. Where do these women belong? And more importantly, with whom?Find out more about her first release, The Other Side, here.


Chicki said...

Z - I think at this point in my life I've had it with the "regular" guys. I'd love to bump into someone extraordinary at the grocery store! :)

But, to answer your question, I was surprised when that grungy, uncombed look that Sawyer on LOST caught my attention. He looks like he belongs out in the yard working under the hood of a car.

Sandy said...

Z, I think it would be neat to have a hero who is totally bald. I shave His Ronness's head, so he's bald most of the time. They don't need hair at all to be a hero. lol


Z(Aasiyah/Nolwynn) said...

Uhm, Sawyer. Case in point, he does look like he belongs under the hood of a car. And like he should tumble straight from there into your bed! The perfect bad boy, innit?

Sawyer clearly 'rocked' more than the 'good' hero, Jack (and Matthew Fox looks too perfect!).

I have yet to bump into someone spectacular too at the corner store. Sometimes I even wonder if it isn't a myth that such 'spectacular' guys actually exist! And then you just happeen to catch a glimpse of one such guy in the least expected place...

Thanks for the comment, Chicki.

Sandy - Someone once told me Mr. Clean is a hottie. And this guy is bald, innit?

Would you believe that around the turn of the decade, the trend was for young men in their twenties to shave their head? Blokes in their thirties who were losing their hair suddenly woke up and realised it's 'uncool' to have a few strands of hair. The 'cool' and 'in' thing was to have a polished skull.

Didn't know His Ronness shaved his head! I give mine a haircut every month. Very short though.

Thanks again ladies!