NAKED FEATURE – History of Controversial Men

As a culture we're attracted to the good, the bad and the controversial. We've been creating stories about good vs evil since the dawn of man, whether it's the Bible or Lord of the Rings, it makes for a much more interesting existence. These villains have remained with us through story-telling, immortalised into plays, books, poems and these days film and TV. These stories provide endless creative content, part truth, a little embellishment and more often than not, a little sexing up.


Henry VIII is one such character famed for his overhaul of religion in England forcing the Catholic Church out kicking and screaming, replacing it with the Church of England so that essentially he could marry Anne Boleyn in search of a legitimate heir (all those illegitimate ones don't count) to the throne. The robust King of England existed pre-internet so pre-social media we never see his Instagram feed of his six different weddings or be friends on Facebook 'Henry VIII has now beheaded Anne Boleyn.' As much as Henry VIII's story obviously happened, it has been subject to a little propaganda, a teeny bit of re-writing and hell, even his official portrait was said to have made him look more impressive than in real life. What it is about Henry VIII that sticks is the theatrical element, the woven political story, the seductive court with his succession of wives, and his tyrannical nature. A tale that can survive nearly 500 years is quite something and it is still moulded and retold year upon year. On the one hand, Philippa Gregory explores the subject of his female characters into chick lit, whereas The Tudors' TV production had the smouldering Jonathan Rhys Meyers playing King Henry in a mixing pot of desire and frequent death by hanging. Even Henry has been subject to a little re-branding via modern day Photoshop and re-casting - modern potrayals usually have him looking pretty handsome, a little different from the portraits from the time, although reports from the time suggest he was a looker in his early years.


So a bad boy's story must be able withstand the test of time by having an interesting story to tell, whether a romantic rogue, a revolutionary or a political mastermind. Casanova, of Venice in Italy (oh come on, of course he was) was so successful at his role his name has become synonymous with seduction and charm. His story is one underpinned by luck and twists of fate, mixed with enough plot changes, women, gambling, imprisonment and exile to account for a whole franchise of movies going. He himself revelled in his freedom as he states in his memoirs. ' I have delighted in going astray and I have constantly lived in error, with no other consolation than that of knowing I have erred. ...' How happy he would have been that his life has become entrenched in society, and somehow 'Casanova' seems to bring connotations more loveable rogue than all bad, more player than love rat. He's been played in modern society by the lovely charming Heath Ledger to BBC's David Tennant. And my guess is, he'll be re-worked a few more times yet.


As much as we love a wholesome public figure or celebrity, we're constantly pushing the limits of political correctness and what is deemed acceptable to rebel against our culture and question our society. This list could go on and on from Julius Caesar, Marquis de Sade to Vlad the Impaler who was reworked into Bram Stocker's Dracula. In the modern world, we are endlessly intrigued by the shock tactics which are used and often result boost public profile and album sales, they weave into a content for magazines and newspapers and become background noise to keep them constantly in the press. So now let's look at the public profiles of so called 'bad boys', 'rogues', 'bacholers' and looking at how they use their image and their language to create a persona which is controversial but still liked. The ones you love to hate. If you're interested in Bad Girls, they've got a naughty post all of their own where I consider that controversy for women, still revolved around exploring their sexual power, and taking their clothes off to create provocative images. Men, are more about their actions and their words...with exceptions of course. Here are the modern men who play the 'bad boy' from the pantomime villain to the political campaigner.

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  1. […] week I've been thinking about Controversial Men in History, but now I'm consider those modern bad boys who are hitting the headlines. Starting off with singer […]

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