The Anatomy of a Douchebag.

The other day, I was talking to my friend about a mutual acquaintance of ours, and how he is somewhat of a “douchebag”. He’s not malicious in any way (which might make him an “asshole”, “prick” or, depending on the severity of said maliciousness, something more severe, beginning with an “f” orGod forbid!a “c”), but some of the things he says and does can only be described as “douchey”.

Urban Dictionary ensures that douchebag (“Someone who has surpassed the levels of jerk and asshole, however has not yet reached fucker or motherfucker”) is “not to be confused with a ‘douche’”, “… an individual who has shown themself [sic] to be very brainless in one way or another.” So perhaps just plain old “douche” is the word I’m searching for here, but I still maintain that a douchebag is just a misguided knob who does things seemingly to look “cool” and gain others’ approval.

But you’ve seen the douchebag in popular culture; you know what I’m talking about.

He’s not the equivalent of Jesse James, who cheated on Sandra Bullock with tattooed fetish model Michelle “Bombshell” McGee, is an alleged Nazi sympathiser and ran dog fights out of his West Coast Choppers studio. He’s not in the same ball park as Charlie Sheen, who is a raging drug addict and wife beater. And he’s certainly nothing like Joel Monaghan, the disturbed and idiotic Canberra Raiders player who was in the news last week for engaging in a sex act with await for itdog! Tiger Woods, who is a massive dickhead for cheating on his gorgeous wife with the multitude of women, would probably be the closest thing to a douchebag out of the men I’ve listed above, for the simple fact that his acts hurt no one but himself. Sure, there was some very public pain and suffering from his wife, Elin Nordegren, and some of his floozies who thought they meant more to him than they actually did, but there was no drug use, animal cruelty, bigotry and/or violence against women.

But from my research (FYI, who would’ve thought there were so many websites dedicated to the phenomenon?!), I’ve found that the douchebag is most comfortable in their natural habitat; reality television.

I’ve always maintained that Spencer Pratt and Jon Gosselin are the douchebags du jour, pulling publicity stunts with on-again/off-again wife Heidi Montag and ordering Starbucks in Ed Hardy garb, respectively. More recently, the cast of Jersey Shore have been known to exemplify the douchebag attitude, with the women of the show inspiring me to coin my own personal term for the female equivalent of a douchbag: a douchebaggette.

Speaking of Ed Hardy; the fashion label favoured by Gosselin and the Shore cast (Pratt seems to have moved away from the brand and towards a more derelict, hippie look, in keeping with he and Heidi’s crystal-healing-meets-bankruptcy lifestyle. But Pratt surpasses the physical attributes of the douchebag; he is inherently and eternally a douchebag. Heidi, however, still gets her douchbaggette on in the label.) is a key ingredient in the anatomy of a douchebag. Other external ingredients might include, but are not limited to; men who think their ridiculous hair, which they’ve spent more time on than I spend on my own locks, looks good (Pauly D, I’m looking at you), with a special mention to rats tails; men who wear copious amounts of jewellery or blinged-out clothing; men who wear headbands; and men who insist on getting the perfect pose for their Facebook profile pic. Feel free to submit your own physical douchebag attributes in the comments!

In essence, though, I think the douchebag is an insecure bloke (bogans are not exempt from douchebaggy-ness; in fact, in Australia, I’d say bogans make up a significant portion of the douchebag population), who strives for the acceptance of others in the way he projects himself and the things he says and does. Again, the douchebag poses minimal threat to non-douchebaggy majorities (or is that minorities? The douchebag seems to be sweeping the nation in record numbers)… except when they blind you by flicking their rats tail in your eye and/or from the glare of their rhinestone covered Ed Hardy tee whilst photobombing you!

Related: Why Are Famous Men Forgiven For Their Wrongdoings While Women Are Vilified for Much Less?

Beauty & the Bestiality.

Poor Little Rich Girl: Who Cover Girl Heidi Montag.

(Sex) Ed Hardy.

Extreme Makeover: Jersey Girls.

Things Bogans Like.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

I’m filing all Mad Men titbits in one hit. I hope you can handle it.

1. Love the latest promo posters designed by Christina Perry. The one with Joan’s likeness is, of course, the fiercest.

2. Damaged child of Don Draper and Betty Francis, Sally Draper, deserves “A Freudian Analysis”. And her fair share of Freudian therapy, I would guess.

3. And so does Betty, for that matter. Perhaps a therapist that doesn’t report back to her husband. For now, though, she’s content to make herself over.

Advice blogger Penelope Trunk tells us “How to Write About Your Life”:

“… [The] number one rule is that if you write about your life there must be a redemptive moment because people like that…

So, okay. I try to see that. I mean, I’ve read plenty of memoirs Girl, Interrupted, Smashed, Darkness Visible all good books. All very redemptive at the end, for sure. But I’ve also read Anna Karenina. Well, I haven’t, but I’m able to spoil the ending for you right now anyway… She gets hit by a train. I think she kills herself.

That seems redemptive to me. I mean, at least she doesn’t have to wake up to her same problems every day.

I have told this to my… agent. She said that people do not want to read about my fascination with suicide.”

Jill at Feministe writes of her “commitment to ending up an old maid” in the 2007 article, “I’m Never Getting Married”.

Diablo Cody asks the original “Misery Chick”, Daria Morgendorffer, if her crush, Trent Lane, and the other “Trents of the world are ever suited to long-term relationships…?”. Daria’s response?

“I always thought of Trent as being the Dave Navarro of high school… Considering a girl like Carmen Electra couldn’t maintain true love with Dave Navarro; and Sandra Bullock couldn’t whip Jesse James into commitment; and Pam Anderson couldn’t land Tommy Lee or Kid Rock or Tommy Lee. All epic fails.” How profound.

Since when did mobile phones cease to become telephones? “When my so-called phone rings, my first reaction is ‘Shit. What’s wrong now?’ [However] When I get an email or text message, I feel a tingle of optimism.” My feelings exactly.

Harkening back to the “Feminism Has Failed” debate, where my thoughts were that it hasn’t failed for me personally, but for a woman who is not able-bodied, perhaps it has. Disabled Feminists ask if there’s “A Place at the Table For Me?” when discussing body image. Very thought provoking.

Keanu Reeves just can’t catch a break. Now, “The 12 Most Depressing Keanu Reeves Quotes”. My favourite? See above.

More feminist goodness, this time from Echidne of the Snakes and touching on the “burqa debate” and how women dress in different societies and cultures.

Again, an old-school article from The New York Times entitled “What’s Wrong with Cinderella?”. This is (apparently) what’s wrong with Cinderella and the other Disney princesses:

“…‘I see girls expanding their imagination through visualising themselves as princesses, and then they pass through that phase and end up becoming lawyers, doctors, mothers or princesses, whatever the case may be.’

Mooney [who produced the above quote] has a point: There are no studies proving that playing princess directly damages girls’ self-esteem or dampens other aspirations. On the other hand, there is evidence that young women who hold the most conventionally feminine beliefswho avoid conflict and think they should be perpetually nice and prettyare more likely to be depressed than others and less likely to use contraception…

The infatuation with the girlie girl certainly could, at least in part, be a reaction against the so-called second wave of the women’s movement of the 1960s and ’70s (the first wave was the fight for suffrage), which fought for reproductive rights and economic, social and legal equality. If nothing else, pink and Princesses have resuscitated the fantasy of romance that that era of feminism threatened, the privileges that traditional femininity conferred on women despite its costsdoors magically opened, dinner checks picked up, Manolo Blahniks, Frippery. Fun. Why should we give up the perks of our sex until we’re sure of what we‘ll get in exchange? Why should we give them up at all? Or maybe it’s deeper than that: the freedoms feminism bestowed came with an undercurrent of fear among women themselvesflowing through Ally McBeal, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Sex & the Cityof losing male love, of never marrying, of not having children, of being deprived of something hat felt essentially and exclusively female.”

Following on from this, Rachel Hills of Musings of an Inappropriate Woman, writing in The Australian Literary Review in July 2008, untangles the sexualisation of children. Again, well worth the read.

We’ve gotta give the guys some attention, too, and Newsweek does just that with “Men’s Lib” and retrosexualisation:

“Since the 1950s, the image of American women has gone through numerous makeovers. But masculine expectations remain the same… The term ‘retrosexual’ has all but replaced ‘metrosexual’ in the lifestyle sections of national magazines, which are full of stories about affluent urbanites wearing hunting garb, buying designer axes and writing about the art of manliness on blogs with names like (ahem) The Art of Manliness.”

Jezebel with the quirky genius that is their movie reviews: and a double-whammy at that. Firstly, there’s “Important Life Lessons from B-List Teen Movies of the ’90s” like The Craft and Can’t Hardly Wait. And secondly, in the same vein, they profile Easy A and how it “… Tackles Slut-Shaming, Gossip & What We Expect from Girls Now”. Review to come next week.

Stylish Thought muses on “The Joys of Being Alone”, a concept which I am none-too-familiar with. I find people who don’t like being alone freaks, as does blogger Fajr. Love the accompanying pic, too.

After all that, this should have been called the jumbo edition!

On the (Rest of the) Net.

It’s hard out there for a pimp male model. MamaMia profiles “Male Models. Inside Their Straaaange World”, and how images of “buffed” and “ripped” men on magazine covers might affect male body image.

Hannah Montana is the superhero of the modern generation.

“Freelancing means being so poor and so hungry for so long that you ‘eat’ a bowl of soup that’s just hot water, crushed-up multivitamins and half your spice rack…”according to Richard Morgan, in “Seven Years as a Freelance Writer, or How to Make Vitamin Soup”.

Sex in the Digital City writer, Kitty Tonkin, details how she unplugged her iPod on public transport and had a good, old-fashioned conversation with an elderly man on the train. He talked about the old days, and the kinds of values they had back then. While some of his views were certainly outdated (“women need to learn and remember that it’s a man’s role to fish”), Mystery Train Man did drop such gems of wisdom as “feminism has warped views in society” and “romance is so cheap [wine, fish and chips overlooking the ocean] people have no excuse”.

Rachel Zoe literally “dies” for US Harper’s Bazaar. Death by Marc Jacobs? Yes please!

Tiger Beatdown has some interesting views on the “Love The Way You Lie” video. While I think both the song and the film clip accurately portray the cycle of domestic violence, author Garland Grey asserts that both glamorise the situation. View the video and the article, and you be the judge.

Any LOSTies out there still mourning the end of the series? io9 hits it right on the head in “12 Theories About Lost That Were Better Than the Actual Show”, acknowledging that half the fun of watching the show was formulating our own hypotheses about its mysteries.

The Thought Experiment writes about “the cinematic discourse established by director Rob Luketic employs the consistent rhetorical metonymical device of synecdoche to psychologically reinforce the theme of a woman’s appearance…” in Legally Blonde. Or, in layman terms, the film deals with “the constant breaking of the women down in to digestible parts when they are focussed on Warner. This is important because, to a man like that character, taken as a whole, what are we ladies? Too much to chew on, it seems.” Great article.

While our country might be in the midst of a hung parliament, Mia Freedman exerts her feminist stance on the issue in her profile of Julia Gillard: “Would she describe herself as a feminist? ‘I would. All my life I’ve believed that men and women have equal capacities and talents. That means that there are as many smart women as there are smart men and it means there are as many dumb women as there are dumb men. So we’re equal and consequently there should be equality in life’s chances.” Now go bag that Prime Ministership, Julia! (You can also read Freedman’s journey to interview Gillard here.)

Jezebel loves herself some Mad Men. This time around, the feminist blog profiles the show’s stance on “The Psychology of Women”.

Elsewhere, on the “psychology of men” stratosphere, “Can Superheroes Hurt Boys’ Mental Health?” When I said to a male friend that I wasn’t really into superheroes, he said I mustn’t have any daddy issues, ’cause people with daddy issues love superheroes. Well, I have no shortage of daddy issues, and I am dressing as Cat Woman for my Halloween/birthday party, so I guess that proves his point. And so does the article.

Johnny Depp has pulled of many a character, which is no mean feat. The fact that he’s managed to be “doable in pretty much every role is an even bigger accomplishment”.

Once again, women just can’t win. The latest study to prove this shows that “men whose wives make more money than they do are more likely to cheat”. Take a bow, Jesse James, Ryan Phillippe et al.

Why Are Famous Men Forgiven for Their Wrongdoings, While Women Are Vilified for Much Less?

In Perez Hilton’s words, “2010 has really been the year of the cheater”. First we had Tiger Woods’ cheating scandal, which broke late last year but has continued to be a headline grabbing story, then Jesse James’ spiral of shame, and now David Boreanaz, who went public a few weeks ago with news that he cheated on his wife of almost nine years, Jaime Bergman.

And last year was the year of the sports scandal, you might say, with the Matthew Johns group sex story coming to light in May.

What do all these men, with, perhaps, the exception of James, have in common? Their shady pasts have virtually been forgotten in favour of their more positive talents. Boreanaz plays the lead in hit TV series Bones, Johns now hosts his own self-titled show, and Tiger is back on the Masters tour.

While the wrongdoings of the Australian underworld are being glorified on Underbelly no one bats an eyelid. To take it even further, O.J. Simpson, although acquitted of double murder, was held up as a hero amongst African Americans in Los Angeles following his trial, despite being thought of as guilty in the court of public opinion.

Perhaps this is just a sign of the times changing; that our society has become so desensitised to notions of war, violence, drugs and sexual depravity that they are not longer taboo. I would argue that this is true to some extent it is not reflected on the other end of the spectrum.

For example, a recently refurbished Heidi Montag admitted to undergoing 10 cosmetic surgical procedures in one day because she wasn’t happy with the way she looked. She obviously has deep-rooted body dysmorphic issues, however instead of helping and supporting her, the public has turned on her.

The same could be said of the Britney Spears’ and Lindsay Lohans’ of the world. A recent Jezebel article, “In Defence of Lindsay Lohan”, was in support of the former child star everyone loves to hate.

Sure, Lindsay has a father who “is a nightmare… and her mother is more of a friend than a parental figure. So perhaps she is lacking in guidance and role models. But who among us, in some way, is not? Her experience [of growing up in the spotlight]… is not one many people can relate to, anyway.”

The author surmises that the public’s fascination with Lindsay and their “build-you-up-to-take-you-down” mentality is much simpler: “She’s 23-years-old and being ripped to shreds in the press mostly because she goes out at night.”

Right. Someone like Colin Farrell has had a sex tape released, sexual misconduct allegations brought against him and has battled substance abuse problems, however he is still held up as a Golden Globe-winning actor. We all know Lindsay has the acting chops, it’s just a matter of her getting out of her own way. Double standard? In the words of Sarah Palin, you betcha!

The beautifully tragic Marilyn Monroe and Anna Nicole Smith were, and still are, vilified for being just that. Even in death, the girls can’t catch a break.

So that brings us back to the question, why do men get away with so much more than women can? Or, more to the point, why are men almost celebrated for their wrongdoings while women are banished into social oblivion?

I think, in a nation that celebrates sport as the highest level of achievement, especially, we want to give our sportsmen the benefit of the doubt. While I do think we focus too much on sport as the be all and end all of success in Australia, and the very nature of being “Australian”, it can be seen as admirable to offer someone a second chance. Johns, for example, could be seen as brave for coming forward and being the only one of his Cronulla Sharks teammates to own up to his mistake. But I do think it’s a bit soon to be running a television show off his back.

However, we also like to kick people when they’re down. Britney Spears, for example, was heralded as the princess of pop in her golden days, but when she started donning pink wigs, speaking to herself in a British accent in the gutter, and being carted off to the looney bin, we wanted nothing to do with her. Oh, I’m sorry, only to denigrate her on the cover of tabloid magazines.

Then last year she launched her comeback tour, and everyone was back on her side. That is, until, she lip synched (come on, it’s Britney! When has she ever not lip synched?) her way through Australia and out of our collective consciousness.

But how many second chances are we going to give these men, in particular? Charlie Sheen was embroiled in his latest domestic dispute over Christmas last year. But what of his past child pornography, prostitute and drug allegations? Not to mention the shooting of ex-girlfriend Kelly Preston in a domestic dispute. Do we just sweep them under the rug too so that Sheen can keep the $1.2 million per episode of Two & a Half Men coming?

When these mistakes are hurting people other than themselves, maybe it’s time to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Do we really care if Lindsay, Britney or Mischa are off to rehab again? And shouldn’t we be caring that Jesse James allegedly ran dog fights out of his West Coast Choppers headquarters and is apparently a white supremacist? Or that Sheen is essentially being rewarded by the cash cow that is Hollywood for his reprehensible behaviour? Or that Tiger sleptand somehow found time to golfhis way across the country in a narcissistic bubble of admiration from his countrymenand women?

Related: All Eyes on Marilyn.

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] In Defence of Lindsay Lohan.