Bad Boy as a Force of Nature

‘Bad Boys’ come in all shapes and sizes, but the real form of rebelliousness that our culture always needs are those who serve humanity through the depths of their experiences; from the good through the bad. Marlon Brando is unique in this regard. The film industry is the perfect channel that actors/actresses use as a vehicle of self-expression for us as their audience, so we can see, feel and be motivated by our own vulnerabilities of the human condition. The depths of ‘bad’ in masculine identity is very different than that of the feminine, than that of all other identities in between. How we dress is an obvious statement of our varying attitudes that shape and guide us.

Below is a short clip of Sean Penn talking about his good friend Marlon Brando, a kind of ‘bad boy’ that continues to inspire us non-actors and actors alike. Marlon Brando was a genius and magician in his craft.

Costume in film is one avenue to tell a character’s story. Sometimes current fashions come from the film industry like the ‘bad boy’ image below in THE WILD ONE with Marlon Brando. Since fashion is so broad and ‘anything goes’ from vintage to wide pants to skinnies, from wigs to multicolored dyed hair, from natural skin to all ranges of makeup, would this style pass today as just another outfit worn by a guy? Would we take a second look if we saw this very outfit on a man or a woman or any other gender? Has the ‘bad boy’ (so to speak) image been totally absorbed into mainstream? Many of us have black leather jackets of a kind, and wear Levis (jeans) cuffed up above the ankle, perhaps many of us in the Western world have worn or have owned cowboy (Frye) boots at one point or another.

What's he wearing?

Marlon Brando

What is BAD BOY now? Where is that defining edge of sartorial revolt in our culture? How would you dress up as one who is rebellious? (boy or girl or any other range of self-image in relation to one’s sexual identity). New identities of body and expression emerge out of social conflicts, out of personal despair, out of differing belief systems and they push us to tolerate new possibilities of living and lifestyle. I suppose because there are so many differences under the umbrella of humanity, rebellious dress really comes about in relation to particular circumstances and context. We know that dressing in stereotypes are get ups for Hallowe’en, the working world, social groups or thematic celebrations. My take is that what we own to be our ‘dress’ is idiosyncratic to the individual even though we will never stop yearning to belong to something larger than ourselves. It is this very paradox of individual and community relationship that continues to spin us in innumerable orbits. With our undying spirit to invent with our available resources and the images we have of ourselves, the evolution of dress continues. Just how it does persist is the beauty of our ‘character’ we wear today.

 

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