Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Romantic Heroes: Three Versions Continued

Speaking of Romantic Heroes . . .

The Romantic Hero: Three Versions refers to romantic heroes in traditional romance.

Do these tropes show up in yaoi and M/M? Yes, they do (sort of).

Romance OCD-Style


Asami is a great example of the positives and negatives of this style (see original post). He remembers everything about Akihito: where he'll be, what projects he is working on, what type of cameras he uses, the names of his friends. If Akihito takes a temporary job, Asami figures it out and follows him there. If Akihito mentions that he likes fireworks, Asami arranges for his crew to put on a firework demonstration.

And it's a tad creepy! As Akihito continually points out. Which amuses Asami. Which is probably why he does it.

Nevertheless, Asami-as-a-less-trustworthy-Darcy may explain why he is so enormously popular in the manga-yaoi universe. Me, I get a bigger kick out of Akihito. But the tension between a Darcy-with-guns and an Elizabeth-with-even-more-sarcasm-than-usual is definitely a pull of the series.

The White Knight

The ages are off--but these are impressively good covers!
There are numerous examples in yaoi and M/M of a rich, physically fit male hero sweeping in to rescue everybody; however, those books quite frankly usually belong in the compilation-trope-sub-genre.

More memorably, male characters in yaoi and M/M battle for the privilege of being The White Knight.

In books where the men are supposed to be men (not stand-in tropes), the designated White Knight is often stymied. In Chambers' Enlightenment series, Murdo would like to be David's White Knight, but the reserved, careful, private, Scottish lawyer (to the left) keeps haring off to help people and solve problems by himself. David has to learn that Murdo is in fact a shoulder to lean on (if he needs it).

An actual rescue occurs in Beecroft's By Honor Betrayed when the first hero rescues the second hero from hanging. It is complicated by the second hero, a sailor in the Royal Navy, being less than thrilled when he realizes how the first hero pulled off the rescue.  He is offended by the first hero's choice of helpers (pirates). The post-rescue confrontation is a great psychological moment (I wanted to be rescued--why couldn't you do it ethically?).

The resistance or bargaining re: rescues is part of what makes M/M so fascinating. Rescues=automatic-love plots are hard to shake in traditional romance, especially since Dorothy Sayers is possibly the only mystery-romance writer who has ever completely understood why a rescue could be an awful burden on a woman (see Strong Poison).

The Only Guy Around (for Miles and Miles and Miles)

Interestingly enough, two men trapped on a literal island is not an unpopular trope in M/M. What makes this even more interesting is that in at least three examples that I read, the authors had obviously done research on actual maroons. In all three books, the more extroverted male character suffers from depression.

Love is not enough to sustain a person. Without people and things and stuff, sadness and dark thoughts are not too far away.

Consider Jamie and Adam in the cabin-fever episode. Although Adam comes across on Mythbusters as an extreme extrovert ("You seem to keep forgetting that this is a television show," he tells Jamie on more than one occasion), his statements on camera reveal a man who is far more of a family-homebody-extrovert than a party-all-night-long-extrovert.

Consider too, that everybody looks extroverted next to Jamie.

Yet Adam is more paranoid and unsettled by the end of the cabin-fever episode than Jamie. And even Jamie has settled into more-taciturn-than-usual-sleep-all-day guy.

We are social creatures. One other person on an island truly may not be enough.

Interesting that M/M would point this out quicker than traditional romance! Despite being supposedly the ones with a circle of galpals, is it possible that women at heart are more me-and-one-other-person homebodies than men?

Eh, there are so many cliches here coming in from so many different directions, I'll leave that question up to the individual.