Women (or gay men for that matter), have you ever found yourself in a life and death situation, and thought to yourself: Damn, I'm not sure if I'll be able to concentrate enough to survive this nearly fatal encounter, because that man's ass is just so fine looking in those jeans? Is this a valid concern that goes through your head often?

Seriously, is this a thing?

Now, I'm not talking about my own ass.  Imagine the sexiest guy you know.  Their ass.  In the best, most perfect pair of jeans.  Imagine yourself in a dangerous scenario.  The kind where you'd have to fight with everything you've got for your life.  Is that masculine backside going to distract you so that aren't certain you'll make it out alive?

I guess, I'm wondering if this is a trope, particularly a Romance trope, where a female lead is so totally taken by the male lead's looks, that she actively wonders if she could do her job, keep herself alive, etc., etc.  I've been reading an Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance anthology, with a bit more focus on the Romance than the Fantastic.  For such an anthology, there will be a portion of the readership  more interested in the nuances of how the two leads will hook up (or not, I guess that's more acceptable in a short?) than in the nuances of how magic works or the supernatural, etc.  That's as it should be.  Heck, in any given anthology, some portion of the stories will work for each reader better than others.  That's natural reader diversity in action.

I don't object to characters finding other characters attractive.  I don't even object to the notion that in many situations, a character might be more interested in wondering how the other lead might be between the sheets rather than concentrating on their spreadsheets.  But, once people get into crisis mode, unless there's something supernatural going on with the attraction...(which in a UF/PR story is a totally legit scenario) it feels off to me if a character (any character) focuses on another characters "attributes" rather than, say, the oncoming train.

Maybe it's a case where I'm reading too much into it.  Perhaps it was intended a  bit of humor to lighten the tension.  But I felt, in this situation, it weakened the heroine.  As if I shouldn't expect to take her seriously (despite showing up to this moment that she's pretty damn self sufficient and capable) and that maybe she can't hold her own.  Instead of getting a chuckle, it threw me out of the story enough that here I am, blogging instead of reading.  Yet there's a part of me wondering if I misread the scene.  Was this a Romance trope?  Is this totally normal in a genre I don't know well.  I've been exposed enough to PR in various genre anthologies, that I'm not a total stranger, but I doubt I've scratched the smallest surface of Romance as a broader genre, so I can't rule out that I missed something a genre fan would have picked up on.  So I'm left wondering, which is it?

Do you think it weakens a character, or make them more interesting/relatable?

From: [identity profile] arhyalon.livejournal.com

First of all, I'm not the person to ask. I've never noticed anyone's backside...I love shoulders and jawlines.

But the question is still valid.

Yes and no. I have been so distracted by a guy that I can't concentrate. And sometimes, I focus that distraction on "he's sooooo cute!" But usually, it is a spiritual quality...a desire for him to act a certain way...rather than a physical quality that is distracting me.

I read historical novels. Girls in those books tend to be more like what I just described...the thought of him rather than the look of him...is the danger.

I do have a friend who met her husband when she was so struck by his good looks that she walked into a palm tree. (In her defense, he is gorgeous. ;-)

From: [identity profile] temporus.livejournal.com

Oh, being smitten by someone at first look? Sure I get that. (I can still close my eyes and recall the image of the first time I ever saw my wife.)

And, I could see it being a distraction when you're talking work-a-day level stuff. Heck, when you're talking about the hum-drum, it's probably a very welcome distraction. But as you progress up the scale towards, real life and death scenario, I would expect that such distractions would at some point fall away. It's probably at a different point for every person, but I'd still expect it to disappear before you get to the life and death scenario.

From: [identity profile] arhyalon.livejournal.com

Me, too. I expect characters to become totally focused and ignore other things at that time.

From: [identity profile] asakiyume.livejournal.com

I love this story about your friend and her husband--that's wonderful <3

From: [identity profile] arhyalon.livejournal.com

In particular...distracted in an emergency. I bet Amanda Quick would do that in a funny way...but it isn't a regular trope I've noticed.
eimarra: (Default)

From: [personal profile] eimarra

I think I'd wind up skipping to the next story. I totally do check out guys' asses. Maybe less so than I did when I was younger, but yeah. In a life-or-death situation, if I noticed (because, say, I'm climbing somewhere behind the guy and it's right there, it's still not going to be my focus. A better throw-away humorous comment would be something like, "Can't wait until we're safe so I can take the time to appreciate this view." (Well, okay, that's not stellar prose, but the sentiment...)

From: [identity profile] temporus.livejournal.com

What's tough, was up to that point, I kind of liked the character, and thought she was kind of street smart and savvy. It just made what had seemed a competent, self sufficient woman suddenly come off as weak. And that threw me for a loop.

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com

Distract me, no. But I'd notice and, if I had a second or two to spare, appreciate.

It sounds like a clunky use of an actual romance thing, which is that the relationship is the main story and everything else is secondary. This sometimes causes writers to do stuff like that, where the romance is getting emphasized in a situation where the emphasis should logically be on something else.

From: [identity profile] asakiyume.livejournal.com

I have never had that combination of circumstances come up, so can't comment from experience, but thinking about writing, it sounds like two desirable things are warring with each other. You want a compelling backdrop for your romance (hence !danger!), but you also want to signal the attractiveness of the character (hence can't-concentrate). But yeah, you're completely undercutting the compellingness of the scene if all thoughts of the danger fly out the window.

I *do* think, from what people have told me, that in very intensely dangerous and scary moments, you can have what would seem to be inappropriate thoughts flash through your mind, and I do imagine you might *notice* and even reflect for a moment on someone's good looks. But if, in the scene, the person completely gets distracted from the danger, that seems hard to believe.


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