Thursday, July 23, 2009

Courting vs. Stalking

"Would you forgive me, love, if I boiled your rabbit?"

Yes, I had a friend in high school who once modified some Alanis Morissette lyrics. It was all part of a general conversation regarding the difference between courting and stalking.

It started after a viewing of Say Anything. There was a heated debate about Lloyd Dobler's boom-box move: sketchy, or sexy?

This seems like an easy question to answer, but we never actually reached a conclusion. Let's be honest. Pet death and property destruction aside, it can sometimes be a tough call. After all, one woman's deranged psycho is another woman's hot emo vampire.

My own perspective: I admire a certain amount of persistence in the pursuit of romance. This should be obvious, given my choice of reading/writing material. If there's not an obstacle, it's not interesting! Imbalance of interest/commitment makes for good conflict.

And yet sometimes, I get a little whiplash from my beloved romance novels. The "persistent" hero seems like a stalker. Or the "over-protective" hero seems controlling and emotionally abusive. But I've yet to come up with a good list of tricks/traits that definitively tip the scales.

I put it to you, dear reader: what squicks you out in a hero? I'm looking for the stuff that makes you say, "Wow. If that happened in real life, I'd probably call the cops." All the better if you can give us examples from novels, TV, and/or movies!


Anna Richland said...

I just read my first Lora Leigh novel Nauti Nights. The whole book basically gave me the run-away-screaming feeling, but then I worried the crazy alpha hero would pounce on my posterior if I turned to flee. Seriously, I'm not a reading prude, but that dude was scary and this is a PG website so I can't explain.

My sign in word was "clorks" - love it!

Anneliese Kelly said...

I've got a pretty high tipping point for this kind of behavior in a literary man--I love a nice, sensitive hero (Henry Tilney/the Bridgerton boys/Mary Balogh heroes/George Emerson) but I also dig the commanding lordly types (Rochester/Darcy/Kinsale heroes).

BUT, I found the line when I read Claiming the Courtesan. Kidnapping and imprisoning your mistress on a remote estate because she tried to leave you is too creepy for sexy. Especially when you get her to stay by threatening to kill her brother. Tough, because I loved the author's other book (in which the hero and heroine are imprisoned somewhere together).

Vivi Andrews said...

I have to say I totally agree on Claiming the Courtesan. Creepy, dude.

And I don't think Edward & Bella (of Twilight fame) have a healthy relationship. A guy tells me he used to sneak into my room at night to watch me sleep? I'm going with a restraining order before I rush right into True Love.