I know what you’re thinking. What does “The Biebs” have to do with romance novels? It’s not just him, but every seemingly innocent boy that grows up to be a bad ass. While you may not be a fan, you have to admit that the kid knows how to appeal to girls (and some grown women too). On top of that, he has the ability and the audience to make the news with just a change to his haircut, or a notice that he’s finally, finally pulled up his damn pants.
In our grandmothers’ generations, there were certainly heartthrobs. They were doe-eyed boys with perfectly coiffed hair and winning smiles. They were conformists, squeaky clean, and generic at best. No offense, I’m sure they were swell. But they were merely a manufactured estimation of what sexist old men in the entertainment industry thought girls wanted–the boy next door, the gentleman, the humble and innocent. Their admirers were meager. In our mothers’ generation the execs loosened the reins a bit and let boys be boys–think Elvis Presley, James Dean, Marlon Brando. When the public was allowed to see the wholesome go wild, their wavering followers became fanatics with a collective scream and swooning sigh. Lesson learned.
The rockstars and actors of today aren’t kept on such a short leash. Sometimes there’s no leash at all. While girls may adore innocence at first, it’s that star’s fall from grace–tattoos, associating with strippers, a swinging door of revolving girlfriends, and underage drinking– that proves their undying love and willingness to stand by their man. Modern fangirls are a tried and true species. They are frighteningly faithful and wield their swords of customized memes and hashtags with the fierceness of an internet ninja.
The pre-teen and teenage girls of today are the romance readers of tomorrow. With the emergence of New Adult, we’ve already seen a shift from the bodice-ripping heroes of yesteryear to the troubled, tattooed, dangerous men of contemporary romance. In my novel, Beautiful Addictions, Tristan is exactly that–troubled, tattooed, wicked smart, and oh-so-sexy. You’ll want him and you’ll want to save him. It’s in our nature not only to want to help him, but also to want to be the reason for that change. We long to possess a love so strong, that he would give up all his wild ways to have us. The Beliebers who have compassion for the unsettled boy, faith in his kind nature, and an understanding that he just needs a good girl to set him straight, will look for that in their book boyfriends.
So, thank you, Justin Bieber. Thank you to all those who came before you and all those who will come after you. Thank you for breaking out of the cookie cutter mold of who you were expected to be and becoming the party boy we want to tame. Thank you for transitioning an army of females from innocent girls to confident women who know exactly what they want. While we all appreciate your metamorphosis from teeny bopper to bad boy, watch yourself. On the sliding scale of dangerously desirable to lonely loser, you may be on a slippery slope. Reel it in and we’ll stay true, all the while looking for you in the pages of our next read.