For the past year, the tabloids have been obsessed with Bad Girls and the rotating cabal of shaggy, greasy party boys who love them. But as public patience with self-destructive dim-bulbs like Paris Hilton and Britney Spears wanes, mags have cooked up a new dish for us to salivate over: the Good Boy. He's sanitized, sexually harmless, and above all, as bland as an egg-and-egg omelette. In short, he is Gossip Girl's Chace Crawford.
Nothing against Crawford: He's coming into his own playing troubled, rich pothead Nate Archibald, and it's possible he secretly digs astrophysics, dog shows, and racing unicycles across shaky rope bridges. But if he is that well rounded, we won't read about it anytime soon. The boy's appeal lies in his intense (but not intimidatingly intelligent) eyes, carefully mussed hair, and TV show aimed squarely at the squalling teens who buy multiple copies of magazines so as to tape the pictures to their bedroom ceilings. Even his maybe-girlfriend Carrie Underwood described Chace's appeal thusly: "He's got cool hair, he's a nice height, and he just has beautiful eyes." How profound. Will they register at Sephora?
Chace, though, wouldn't be where he is today without Good Boy trailblazer and similarly pretty cipher Zac Efron — he of the even more dramatic coif, look-alike eyes, and his own Hairspray pictorial calendar. Indeed, the Good Boy genre owns its upswing not merely to convenient timing with public boredom of drunken shenanigans, but also because it's much easier to sell bookmarks, locker-size posters, and scratch-and-sniff stickers of someone who doesn't seem like he's jonesing to get into your pants (or a crack den). PG-rated daydream material equals licensing cash galore. So, while we know too much about Hollywood's Bad Girls, Crawford and Efron are harmless blank slates onto which we can scribble our own fancy truths. Think Chace whispers sweet nothings in perfect pig Latin? Want to believe Efron reads Nabokov by the light of a roaring fire? Why not! The real surprise is that the Good Boy didn't rear his head sooner.
Perhaps the timing wasn't right until now. The Bad Girls of Hollywood are stuck playing the same old tune (you have issues as bad as your extensions — we know), and the Good Girl is a well-worn classic. But the Good Boy hasn't seen much action since the days of New Kids on the Block, and even then, he played second fiddle to Dylan McKay–esque Bad Boy brooders. He's overdue for the spotlight.
But while his resurgence is a welcome respite from dirty drama, the Cult of the Good Boy will only have legs if the likes of Efron or Crawford develop something more substantial behind those smoldering eyes. After all, the Bad Boy attracts the girl (and the purse-strings holding public) because he has a whiff of personality: Gossip Girl's Blair ditched Nate to suck face with snarky, shady Chuck, and Joey Potter on Dawson's Creek chose teacher-shagging Pacey over the titular hero. Screaming teens and tabloid readers alike are fickle. If all the Good Boy has to offer is good hair, and he's not going to crash his car into your front yard, eventually we're all going to turn the page. —The Fug Girls