Tuesday, July 5, 2016

How all that "Friend-zoned Nice Guy" BS inspired The Hypnotic City

The meme above perfectly encompasses the concept of the "Nice Guy." The poor soul who puts a girl up on a pedestal only to get "friend-zoned" when she chooses to give her body, not to him, but to some "alpha male."

Of course, this is not a thing (and neither is the "friend-zone"). Women are - get this - people, and not, as some other internet memes have helpfully pointed out, machines that give you sex if you deposit enough "niceness" coins. Thankfully, the world seems a bit more enlightened today than when I was younger. Memes like this exist and most people now know that a "nice guy" who acts like a decent human being and treats women with basic respect only as a ruse to get the sex he "deserves" in return, isn't "nice" at all. Some other funny internet jokes have arisen about this, including memes about fedoras and Amy Schumer's hilarious "M'Lady App" skit. However, there is obviously a darker, deadlier side to this misogynistic concept, and when I realized that, it inspired my next book.

In 2014, a man names Elliot Rodger killed six people and injured fourteen others near the campus of the University of California Santa Barbra before taking his own life. The killing was (disgustingly) small scale by American standards; the reason it made headlines was because Roger posted a Youtube "manifesto" just before the killings in which he blamed the murders on the fact that he was a virgin and declared that he would be seeking revenge on the "sluts" who had rejected him and the "alpha males" they had chosen instead.

“On the day of retribution," he announced, "I am going to enter the hottest sorority house of UCSB and I will slaughter every single spoiled, stuck-up, blond slut I see inside there. All those girls that I’ve desired so much...I’ll take great pleasure in slaughtering all of you...You will finally see that I am in truth the superior one. The true alpha male.” He ended it by denouncing, “all you girls who rejected me” and “all of you sexually active men.”

The murders and their motives were absolutely horrifying, but what horrified me even further at the time were the reactions of (mostly men) online. I read comment after comment and tweet after tweet blaming the women for their own deaths and praising Roger as an oppressed "nice guy," saying none of this would have happened if those stupid sluts had just slept with him.

At the time, I had just started brainstorming about The Hypnotic City, The Heartless City's sequel/spin-off. I knew I was going to give Philomena her own book and that it would be about her trying to make it on Broadway in New York, but I didn't know what the conflict would be or what form the antagonist would take.

After Elliot Roger, I knew.

I try to make my writing primarily about the character development and plot, but I can't help but also include my thoughts about the world. The Heartless City was partially about the importance of tolerance and empathy, and The Hypnotic City is partially about the inherent sexism and ultimate danger of the "nice guy" way of thinking.

Because, as Stephen Sondheim so eloquently put it in Into the Woods, "nice is different than good."

The Hypnotic City on Amazon and Goodreads

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