Michael Jackson jokes aside, I thought that my mom's comment was worth a bit of further exploration. So here's an incomplete history of "bad boys" in popular culture:
1980s+: This is the time period that dictionary.com pegs as the origin for the term "bad boy", meaning "an impressive and perhaps dangerous device." The definition also describes a Harley Davidson as a bad boy, an example that Jax Teller would reinforce some 30 years later.
1983: Sean Penn starred in the movie Bad Boys, about an Irish-American hoodlum in a Chicago juvenile detention center. Since my less-than-extensive research for this post was confined to Google and YouTube searches, I didn't watch this film. However, it seems like it garnered pretty good ratings and Penn won a minor award for it.
1987: Before the '86-87 season, the Detroit Pistons acquired Dennis Rodman and John Salley, two of the men who would earn the team its "Bad Boys" nickname. The Pistons' physical, sometimes dirty play helped them win back-to-back titles in '88-89 and '89-90. Thankfully, Detroit didn't leave any opponents paralyzed, but it wasn't for lack of trying. Several decades later, ESPN aired a "30 for 30" documentary entitled Bad Boys. One of the many highlights of the film:
1989: The TV show Cops adopted Inner Circle's "Bad Boys" as its theme song. For a kid who grew up in the '90s without cable, "Bad Boys" was a Saturday night staple for years. "Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?"
1993: Bad Boy Records (originally Bad Boy Entertainment) was founded by Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs. I won't make a joke about how many times said founder has changed his nickname, because he will forever be Puff Daddy in Teenage FranT's heart. Bad Boy Records would eventually produce Mase's "Feel So Good," which included a chorus that began "Bad, bad, bad, bad boy..."
1994: The Bad Boy clothing company made the cover of USA Today after distributing a "Bad Boy on Strike" shirt to every major league baseball player. It would have been funny to see Greg Maddux in one of those shirts.
1995: Martin Lawrence and Will Smith starred in the smash hit Bad Boys, prompting one of my friends (who shall remain nameless here) to have "Martin Lawrence" and "Will Smith" tattooed in cursive on his upper thighs. No regrets, man.
1996-97: The feud between Bad Boy Records and Death Row Records probably (definitely) led to the deaths of two of the most famous rappers ever. I guess if you decide to name your record label "Bad Boy" or "Death Row," you might be heading in that direction.
2000: Tito Ortiz, a.k.a. "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy," captured the Light Heavyweight Championship of UFC, the mixed-martial arts company he helped popularize.
2003: Martin Lawrence and Will Smith reunited to make Bad Boys II. I remember an uncomfortable scene featuring the Ku Klux Klan and a pretty funny scene involving Lawrence intimidating his daughter's date with a gun. Here's what Wikipedia says about the movie: "Despite mainly negative reviews from professional critics, the film performed well at the box office, grossing $273,339,556." Right; because WILL SMITH.
2012: The cast of the Nickelodeon show Victorious released the song "Bad Boys." The song includes the lyric "Why do the bad boys always look so good?" Nickelodeon, you've come a long way from "Hey, Arnold!"
I'm sure I omitted some important events in the recent history of "bad boys." Still, let's examine my mother's original premise: Can you love a good boy as much as a bad boy? Well. If Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Puff Daddy, and the diverse cast of Cops are among our shining examples of bad boys, then it's truly doubtful.
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Follow FranT on Twitter at @frantweet and follow Brian Kavanaugh at @btkav