Friday, October 5, 2012

Devastatingly Handsome-A Teen Literature Rant

I read a lot of teen literature. I mean A LOT. Reading is my hobby- no more than that, its my passion. And I do enjoy teen lit. It's geared toward my age demographic and there are some real gems out there. However. There are some phrases that are... well- melodramatic. Which brings me to my question.

"Devastatingly Handsome" Seriously? I mean, I cannot think of one time in my life that I have met someone "devastatingly handsome". And what kind of bothers me is that he always the love interest, even of heroines whom I really like as characters.

Lets look at the word devastating. In every other context it refers to sadness, misery, grief and occasional madness. As in "the loss was devastating". This word is not a happy word. In fact, it is depressing. Why on Earth would I be attracted to a guy that devastates me? That pretty much means that looking at the guy is depressing. Looking at someone and finding that they are somehow good looking- and that somehow makes me sad (actually, no, more like miserable) is, well, just strange to me. I mean, can you imagine looking at your love interest and thinking, "Wow. He's depressingly attractive." all the time? Why would I find that attractive? 

Scenarios like this:
  1. Devastating could, I guess, theoretically mean the other "devastating", which has the slightly different connotation- that being destructive. Which, doesn't seem that much better, someone being so handsome that they make the world crumble and cause natural disasters and explosions.
  2. Typically, the "devastatingly handsome" comment is followed by our heroine contemplating how massively unworthy she is. Hello? If you're thinking that, and you're self aware, you're probably right. There's something you don't know, either about him or you. Probably both. He wants something from you. You're probably the key to some sort of power and are now being manipulated. That's just how the world works. Otherwise, the heroine is typically a Mary Sue who is unaware of her own charms, and is shallow enough to focus merely on how depressingly good-looking this guy is.
  3. This is always noted at the most inopportune times. Like when you're both in a very dangerous situation and all you can think is how misery-inducing-ly beautiful the person next to you is. Not their personality. Not their sense of humour or their bravery. Not how to escape the cliched and dramatic dangerous situation. But something as superficial as beauty. Frankly, if that's what you're thinking in what may be your last moments alive on this Earth, then I can't see a relationship would work at that point. Either: a) because you don't seem to know the person well enough to see beyond their looks, b) because there really is nothing else redeeming about the person, so a relationship wouldn't work or c) all thoughts of a relationship would be null because you (either one or both of you) is actually killed by this event, and therefore wouldn't be doing much relating with anybody. I suppose it is slightly justified in the near-death sort of situation, because adrenaline and shock do weird things to the brain.
And that has been my rant. There are some ways of describing someone's looks that just don't work for me. I can't ever imagine being so -delusional? hormonal?- that thinking of someone as "devastatingly handsome" would work for me in basically any context. Feel free to go off and find me and exception. I would love to see one. Until them, devastated/ing is good. Handsome is fine. Just the two don't work together.  

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