People have all heard this saying when a guy has been placed into the magical relationship barrier known as the “friend zone”. “I’m a nice guy, why doesn’t she date me?” Being a nice means that you are genuine, sincere, and compassionate, but taken from this context, its meaning has changed into what it has become an assumed stereotype of what it means to be a “nice guy”. The perception of the “nice guy” can be viewed in two ways, one commonly assumed than the other. The meaning of the “nice guy” has become more of an insult and excuse than a complement. Popular culture and media has shaped the meaning behind the “nice guy” into a tag/title. The perception of the “nice guy” in real life and in popular media is viewed in a negatively light, causing misconceptions on what it means to be nice person and a “nice guy”
Firstly, I should talk about how the “nice guy” is viewed in popular media. Television has its own perception on the “nice guy” and the role that he plays on the television show. Teen shows like iCarly, Zoey 101, Girl Meet Worlds, and Lizzie Mcguire have their own “nice guy” and common similarities between each show. To list the basic common similarities, each of the four shows above has three main characters (Two girls and one boy), the “nice guy” is the best friend of the main character, and the “nice guy” gets the girl at the end of the series. iCarly is a Nickelodeon teen show about the lives of three best friends, Carly, Sam, and Freddie. At the beginning of the series, the viewer is introduced to Freddie who is in love with Carly. It is immediately assumed that Freddie is the “nice guy” of the show, not only because of the knowledge of his love for Carly, but his appearance and personality. The common stereotype about “nice guys” in teen shows is that the “nice guy” is nerdy, yet very caring and charming to the audience. Popular media make the “nice guy” a person that the viewer wants to get the girl in the ending. Making iconic “nice guy” characters like Chase (Zoey 101) and the Gordo (Lizzie Mcguire), the captain of teenage ships. “Ships” in popular culture refers to a person’s opinion on who two characters should be romantically linked to each other. In popular culture, the “nice guy” is viewed in a positive light, but in reality, it is a much complex situation.
A word that is one-hundred percent tied to the “nice guy” is the “friend-zone”. The “friend-zone” in popular culture refers to a platonic relationship between two people, when one person (a guy in this situation) wants to be in a romantic relationship, but the girl does not (Wiki). Most men who are put in the friend-zone are “nice guys”. Popular culture and society views this situation in two scenarios, the first scenario is when the “nice guy” does not want to ruin a relationship due to his fear of rejection, and causes pressure in himself not to express his true feelings. The second scenario is when the “nice guy” is put in the “friend-zone”, they complain and question why the girl doesn’t want to be in a romantic relationship with them. They also put blame on the female for not seeing how “great” of a guy they are and that he is everything that she would look in a guy. The second scenario is the assumption and perception of what all “nice guys” are and how they act. Both scenarios, although very different, causes very negative views and accusations of guys in real life.
I have never been placed in the “friend-zone” or put myself into a position where I would hear the dreaded words, “I like you, but not in that way.” Frankly, I don’t believe that there is a “friend-zone” but let’s just say there is. Yet, looking at my personality and my past experiences with girls, the perception that I have of myself is being a nice guy. I consider myself a nice guy in the sense that I am a very compassionate person and perceived as very charming to girls. The problem of having those personality traits is that I have a high chance of a girl complimenting me as a “nice guy”, and absolutely hate being called that. It’s not because I dislike being a nice person to others and it’s absolutely not that I don’t want to be complimented by a girl, but it’s because of my appearance. Popular culture stereotypes the “nice guy” in most situations as a male who is caring and sweet, but is average or lower in appearance. I am a “decent” looking person, and when a girl compliments me as being a “nice guy”, because of the negative perception of “nice guys”, I do not get the feeling that I compliment should have on a person. Instead, I feel ashamed of being a “nice guy” in a society that views it as someone who is selfish and only wants to be in relationships with attractive females.
One artifact that I analyzed relates to myself and portrays the “nice guy” in a positive light is a YouTube short called Just A Nice Guy (www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMSixENoid4). It was filmed and created by Wong Fu Productions in 2007, and it tells the story of the “nice guy” and his story with a close friend/love interest. In this 23 minute film, you are introduced to Nick, the “nice guy”; in the first four minutes, Nick addresses his problem of being titled a “nice guy” without being asked to one. In terms of what type of “nice guy” he is viewed as, he is the “nice guy” described in the first scenario; Nick is the nice guy who cares deeply about the girl, but hides his feelings for the girl due to him thinking he was in the friend-zone. Nick is a college student with lots of friends, but he is considered a “nice guy” instead of a popular guy. An example that is given about the difference between a nice guy and a popular guy is when a girl thinks of a “popular guy”, they are use words like cute, sweet, and handsome; when a girl thinks of a “nice guy”, they use words like adorable, sweet heart, and great friend. Although both sayings are considered compliments, the “popular guy” is more associated with a potential relationship partner, while the “nice guy” is only associated with being just their “good friend”. During the progression of the film, Nick decides to try to change his image of being the “nice guy” in an attempt to try to get the girl, Amy, who only views him as a good friend. He is convinced by his friend to try to change his behavior to how a “popular guy” would act, a jerk. His friend even uses the assumption that “girls like jerks”. Nick goes to a college party with the girl and attempt to act like an arrogant jerk to everyone including his love interest, but it backfires because everyone associates Nick as being a “nice guy”, which makes everyone to perceive his actions as being a joking manner and not taking Nick’s behavior seriously. In trying to change his image and hiding his feelings for the girl, she happens to find another guy who she is interested in. Feeling regret and sadness, he finds himself getting advice and encouragement from the girl’s best friend to tell his feelings. She even goes to tell him that the reason Amy treats Nick like the “nice guy” is because Nick treats everyone the same, in doing so, there is no way for Amy to see that Nick has feelings for her. That is when Nick realized that he put himself into the “friend-zone” due to his self-assumption of being seen as the “nice guy” that was placed in the “friend-zone”. At the end of the film, Nick goes up to Amy and expresses all his feelings to her and asking her for a change. Like every happy ending, Nick and Amy become a couple (Wong Fu Productions).
In the artifact above, it perfect addresses the problems and struggles of this version of “nice guy” in real life. The video addresses everything that is to know about society’s view about the “nice guy” in this situation. This artifact is a very accurate portrayal of my experience with this situation and other guys who have been in this situation. This is just one side of the perception on the “nice guy”, the next artifact illustrates the most common and associated view about the “nice guy” in popular culture.
The last artifact that I analyzed, that corresponds to second scenario, is another YouTube video called Nice Guy Syndrome – A Doce of Bucklet (will not post link due to use of profanity). The video explains the concept of what it means to have the “nice guy syndrome”, and the ideas that surround this topic. According to Urban Dictionary, “nice guy syndrome” is when “a heterosexual man concocts over simplified ideas why women aren’t flocking to him in droves” (Urban Dictionary). The video goes deep into the perception of a self-proclaimed nice guy, starting with the statement that “nice guys” who claim about girls not wanting them for being too nice, are not nice and are actually jerks. In popular culture, there is this belief that because girls claim that they are looking for a nice guy, and because you think and say that you are a nice guy, that means you will be in a relationship with the girl. The video talks about the meaning and misconceptions of what girls want when they say, “I want a nice guy”. Most guys who hear this, believe that if they act nice to the girl who said it, the girl would eventually fall for the guy’s act of kindness. When the girl is not romantically interested, the “nice guy” assume that the girl is only interested in attractive jerks. They make excuses to why the girl doesn’t want to be in a relationship with them, and improves their own self-esteem by claiming themselves to be “nice guy” (“Nice Guy Syndrome – A Doce of Buckley”). Also, “nice guys” in this situation aren’t really trying to be the girl’s friend, because in an article, The Problem With Nice Guys, “that also addresses the “nice guy” syndrome and explains the concept of the “nice guy”. “A true friend doesn’t make his relationship with a person conditional to the idea that someday – maybe not today, but someday soon – that person is obligated to fall in love (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) with him” (Dr. Nerdlove). In reality, they are hypocrites and actually jerks.
Here is what lies the problem. In popular culture, most people associate a “nice guy” with “nice guy syndrome”. If you were to type in “nice guy” in a Google search, the first page is all about the “nice guy syndrome” or viewing “nice guys” in a negative way. In today’s society, being called a “nice guy” is no longer a complement; some people like myself, feel disgusted because of the view that “nice guys” have “nice guy syndromes”. The “nice guy” is viewed negatively than it is from the Youtube short Just A Nice Guy. Another article called Nice Guys Are Often Losers, views nice guys to be hideously insecure and desperate for the girl (heartlessb*tchesinternational). The problem is that the article is addressing all “nice guys” and nowhere in the article does it refer to “nice guy syndrome”. There needs to be a difference between the “nice guy” and “nice gut syndrome” because you are not a nice guy if you have nice guy syndrome.
Popular culture has created a negative perception of what it means to be a “nice guy”, also causing a bad reputation to the meaning of the words. The point is, people in this day and age will think very negatively about a genuinely nice person and will stereotype the person to have the “nice guy syndrome” or think lowly of him. I hope personally, that someday, the association between a “nice guy” and the “nice guy syndrome” is no more. There really shouldn’t be a reason to use the words “nice guy syndrome”, just use the word arrogant, selfish, and JERK. I’m not a nice guy, I’m just a decent guy who is nice to people. Here’s a little video for anyone’s amusement.
A Duce of Buckery. “Nice Guy Syndrome – A Dose of Buckley.” YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 09 Mar. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-3cu46Dcvw>
Dr. NerdLove. “The Problem With “Nice Guys”” Paging Dr NerdLove. N.p., 17 Dec. 2012. Web. 09 Mar. 2015.
HBI. “Why “Nice Guys” Are Often Such LOSERS.” HeartlessB**ches. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Mar. 2015.
Wiki. “Friend Zone.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 09 Mar. 2015.
Wong Fu Productions. “Just A Nice Guy (2007) – Re-Release.” YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 09 Mar. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMSixENoid4>