10 on-screen crushes that would make terrible boyfriends in real life

Gary King, The World’s End - An 18-year-old stuck in the body of a booze-soaked 40-year-old.

Gary King, The World’s End - An 18-year-old stuck in the body of a booze-soaked 40-year-old. Photo: Laurie Sparham

As epiphanies go, the ones you have over a head-sized bucket of popcorn don’t tend to seem as profound or noble as those that occur in the therapist’s office or over a beaker of life-saving medical research, but nonetheless I was hit by a “EUREKA!”-style thunderbolt when I was tucked away in a cinema recently.

I was watching The World’s End, and found myself doing the love-heart-eyes emoji face at Simon Pegg’s character, Gary King. If you’ve not seen the film, Gary is a hopeless man-child in a Sisters Of Mercy tour t-shirt who also happens to be a raging alcoholic and compulsive liar. This is significant because I realised upon exiting the theatre that Gary was a stand-in for many of the terrible choices I’d made, romantically speaking, based on having been bewitched by idealised on-screen versions of men who are terrible boyfriend material in the real world. 

It helps (or maybe, doesn’t) that I’ve had a thing for Pegg since I was 17, but that’s beside the point; some weeks after watching The World’s End, I found myself dealing with Gary’s real-life counterpart. He was a binge-drinking British chap who’d expressed his desire to run away with me while lying about some significant details (i.e. the existence of his GIRLFRIEND), and who’d never quite got over Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark. And while OMD is not quite Sisters Of Mercy, the rest was there, and it was a disaster.

Given my obscure taste in men it’s unlikely that the success of The World’s End will see an uptick in single women searching for beer-swilling goth manbabies, but the internet (not to mention the scrapbooks and diaries of the past five decades) are filled with glowing love letters to characters who’d make appallingly bad romantic partners in real life.

There have been countless papers written about how on-screen romance has adversely affected the way in which we expect relationships to unfold, and of course we all know about the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, but nobody seems to be funding the research into why we continue to fall head over heels for film and TV dudes who are most unsuitable partners. (Countdown to a Men’s Rights Activist sounding off in the comments about how this is at the root of the Nice Guy’s plight starts in 5, 4, 3…)

Perhaps it’s because the on-screen blokes who would make good real-life BFs just seem a bit much: yes, ideally, we should be going after guys like About Time’s Domhnall Gleeson, but where are you really going to find a man who’d be willing to travel back in time repeatedly just to get you to go on a date with him?

Look, I’ve got no answers for you, other than to return to what relationship counsellor Andrew Marshall said about on-screen crushes: “The thing about celebrities is that they are a perfect focus for a fantasy and tend to fit into archetypes. A celebrity crush is a safe way of exploring the options you didn't take in life”.

Now I just have to work on that whole “not taking that option in real life” angle. Just give me a moment while I go put my Gary King poster in the recycle bin, I’ll be right back...

12 comments

  • Strangely enough most of the unsuitable candidates above have one thing in common with a list that men would put up, they are all very good looking. Perhaps women objectify men just as much as men objectifty women? What would feministryangosling have to say about that?

    And Clem perhaps instead of dismissing those who disagree with you as being mens right activists or "nice guys" who in reality have some pretty sexist views you might try actually reading what the likes of DM, Markus, Bender etc have to say. Just because you don't agree with it 100% doesn't mean it's all wrong.

    Commenter
    Hurrow
    Date and time
    November 27, 2013, 9:12AM
    • I could never get tired of Aragorn dragging freshly killed deer into my kitchen. If Nicholas Cage dragged a freshly killed deer into my kitchen I'd still be pretty happy. I'd be as far away from sexually aroused as it's possible to be, but I'd still be happy. But that's because I have a chest freezer and make an awesome venison casserole. The fact that it's Aragorn would be a bonus.

      Commenter
      Redeker Plan
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      November 27, 2013, 10:17AM
      • Personally, I'd prefer Faramir dragging a freshly killed deer into my kitchen. But I would have preferred that since I was about 15 and having my first literary crush. Now, if I could just convince him to go to therapy for his daddy issues…

        The current fictional crush is Sherlock (BBC version). That I know from the outset would be a really, really bad idea in real life, and not just because of the eyeballs-in-the-microwave thing.

        Commenter
        Chatty
        Date and time
        November 27, 2013, 11:10AM
    • "but nobody seems to be funding the research into why we continue to fall head over heels for film and TV dudes who are most unsuitable partners"

      If a person is lacking the self-awareness required to figure out the reason for themselves and their own individual circumstances, any answer a research study comes up with will just be ignored anyway.

      Commenter
      Markus
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      November 27, 2013, 11:01AM
      • It's a bit daft to have an article about always going after people who would make terrible boyfriends and to then use am example of a stand-up guy being someone in a movie who uses his ability to time travel to manipulate circumstances (and the woman he desires) all to get a date (no matter how honest or nice his intentions, he still manipulates). I say this without trying to offend, but I think you still have a ways to go before you solve your issue with finding suitable boyfriends.

        Commenter
        ALS123
        Date and time
        November 27, 2013, 11:06AM
        • I wonder what the sex make up of viewers if "the bachelor" is...

          Interestingly, I and other guys in the office all think its demeaning and objectifying of woman. Yet half the females in the office love it and lap it all up. This delusional vision of relationship and men really needs to be addressed.

          There is nothing wrong with a girl being forward, but to put themselves in a competition for a man, is pretty disgusting.

          Commenter
          cecil
          Location
          Sydney
          Date and time
          November 27, 2013, 11:12AM
          • Clem, since you've brought up Thor, would you mind sharing your thoughts on the current incarnation of Captain America?

            Commenter
            Chatty
            Date and time
            November 27, 2013, 11:14AM
            • You've got the wrong Ichabod Crane in your gallery of pictures there. You need the Tom Mison one, not the Johnny Depp one. But you have a point that the Tom Mison Ichabod wouldn't be the best boyfriend but I put the fact that he still considers himself to be married above the fact that he's been wearing the same clothes for 250 years.

              Commenter
              Kit
              Date and time
              November 27, 2013, 12:04PM
              • The one thing all the men above have in common is either an abundance of self-confidence, or the things that people often confuse with confidence - money, power or arrogance/ego/narcissism.

                It's confidence and self-assurance that men and women actually find attractive when talking about people like this. Things like money, power or arrogance look like confidence on the surface if you don't look deeper, so it's easy to not notice they aren't.

                At best, money and power are enablers for confidence or the result of having it, but lack of self-understanding in our society has led to them becoming unconscious social signifiers for that confidence. If you're attracted to confidence, then you're probably not actually attracted towards a person because they're powerful, you're attracted because you unconsciously associate wealth and power with confidence, and don't recognise the link.

                Hence the 'bad boy' attraction from otherwise well-adjusted men and women who are at a loss to explain why they gravitate towards people who are bad for them.

                Commenter
                DM
                Date and time
                November 27, 2013, 12:56PM
                • Well, sure, maybe they aren't relationship material. But not all of us are after Happily Ever After all the time-- what a pity it would be to reach the end of one's life without a few ill-considered flings to reminisce about and scandalize the young'uns.

                  "And then there was that glorious month in Asgard with the sons of Loki ... as loopy as hamsters on crack, both of them, but sooooo competitive ... "

                  "Grandma -ewwwww!"

                  Commenter
                  v
                  Date and time
                  November 27, 2013, 1:04PM

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