The Rebel Brand Archetype

The Rebel brand archetype says, "Rules are meant to be broken."

The Rebel may be known as the Outlaw, the revolutionary, the villain, the wild man or woman, the misfit, the enemy, or the iconoclast.

Our desire to be a Rebel increases the more responsible and well-behaved we are, at least a little bit, from time to time. Figures like Robin Hood and Zorro represent the Rebel in its best light. 

Those Rebels who seek their identity outside of existing systems are far more likely to adhere to deeper, more authentic values than those prevailing at the time.

You might call this type of rebel a romantic. 

The romantic rebel is someone who disrupts a society that has succumbed to tyranny, repression, conformity, or cynicism.

For example, in modern history, we can think of the demonstrators at Tiananmen Square in China or the antiwar and civil rights movements in the United States as two examples of revolutionaries who changed our world for the better.

It is the Hero and the Rebel who feel frustration, concern, anger, outrage and discontent.

When outraged by injustice, the Hero takes action.

Rebels are often outsiders in their communities, unlike Heroes who are deeply connected with theirs.

Usually, the Rebel prefers to be out of the way, often in hidden and shadowy places.

According to psychologist C. G. Jung who developed the Jungian archetypes., individual and cultural shadows are qualities that are judged unacceptable and therefore hidden or denied.

In order to avoid acknowledging their Shadows, many people project them onto others, viewing them as the problem.

The Rebel exhibits shadowy characteristics of the culture, namely, the traits society shuns and ignores.

Therefore, the Rebel served as a release valve that enabled society to release its pent-up emotions which activates transformation in the face of opposition.


The Rebel Archetype in Culture and Media

As a testament to how powerful a force this archetype is in the community today, consider the success of Rebel novels and films: some, such as Rebel Without a Cause or Jack Kerouac's On the Road, depict alienation from the culture that leads to breaking cultural norms and taboos.

We can see from these films and books that a part of us feels alienated from the dominant culture, mostly when we are young.  

Some Hollywood movies glorify rule-breaking and depict it as liberating; others, like Mob Movies, rely on the simple premise of criminal or forbidden behavior.

Hippies introduced countercultural, rebel values to the culture during the 1960s.

The baby boomers have grown up with such values, and Rock magazines have mainstreamed them.

Once perceived as countercultural, rock music has become the music of choice for many. 


Rebel archetype products are a favorite among every generation.

The Rebel archetype appears almost subtly on Fox, one of the major commercial networks that tend to offer more shocking and edgy content than ABC, NBC, or CBS. VICE news is clearly a Rebel brand, reporting on the shadowy and hidden issues.

Despite its imagery being so sexual, Calvin Klein has Rebel qualities because of the way it pushes the boundaries of social decency.

The Rebel archetype is seen throughout the Women's Movement where professionally educated women are motivated to recapture the lost instinctual wild woman within by reading books by women authors. 

Natalie Hawthorne's classic American novel shows humanity's limitations and expression when Rebel consciousness is present. The Scarlet Letter contrasts puritan society with the freer life of the forest, which is associated with sexuality, vitality, sin, and, paradoxically, also with transformation.


A common theme in American novels and movies that critique society is how good people must break the law or break with convention to do the right thing.

A classic example of a book that illustrates this theme is Mark Twain's, Huckleberry Finn. The theme also appears in movies like Thelma and Louise and Fried Green Tomatoes, where groups feel so unprotected by society that they must disregard the law to survive. In societies where leaders of disempowered groups become alienated enough to engage in violence, a historical figure like Malcolm X demonstrates what occurs.

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