In a culture where crime television is viewed by millions, are we as a society justifying the image of the bad boys with good hearts we see on tv?
Shows, like Law & Order and CSI, provide viewers the opportunity to look into the ways in which these dangerous criminals are getting instant justice created from their criminal acts. It allows viewers to partake in the ¨whodunnit¨ and watch them be brought to justice. On the other hand, characters from popular shows such as Rip from Yellowstone or Jax from Sons of Anarchy are visibly just as bad, if not worse, but are idolized or fantasized about by millions of viewers. Has the art of television successfully tugged at viewers heart strings to make them sympathize with the criminal behaviors these characters have acted upon to create a sort of rationalization or justification? Or is society more forgiving of the more idealistic attractiveness these actors portray?
The actors clearly partake in dangerous behaviors such as violent assaults, illegal drug/weapons distribution, and murder but we also get to see a softer side of them. Their criminal image now becomes less of a violent monster and more of a relatable character you can sympathize with. The viewer’s vigilantism now shifts and becomes more of a justifiable act. They are now the anti-villain with their heroic gestures, standing their ground but realistically, still the bad guy. The behavior and the dangers displayed on television become alluring to audiences by different emotional standards. The art of showing these bad boys with a conscious has bolted that very image to a god-like complex.
But as in most shows, that bad-boy lifestyle can never remain and is usually met with some final act of crime, such as Jax, where ultimately their lives end in some overly dramatic one-last farewell exit into the afterlife. Instead of the viewers’ sense of good riddance, viewers mourn the loss of their beloved bad boys. Would actors of less physical attractiveness be as mourned as the ones on tv? Would the rich egotistical borderline narcissistic Christian Grey from Fifty Shades of Grey be as fantasized about if Christian was played by somebody less attractive? The fantasies of these men have somehow fogged the perception of right and wrong. Things that would be socially unacceptable before are now met with forgiveness. The intersectionality of the bad boy image through artistic television scripting has allowed audiences to view criminal behavior through a different lens.