Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Tuesday is Recycling Day
"2006: Year of the Douchebag" (Originally Published, 1.5.07)
The Ground Rules
First, if you haven't done so already, please read part one of this segment before continuing; it will help you to understand both the rationale for creating this compilation, and the specific definition of the word "douchebag" which has been applied in the decision-making process. That said, as this list is intended to prove that 2006 was, in fact, a transcendent year in the realm of douchebaggery, it will not feature or highlight any person or persons who did not contribute any more douchebagginess this year than they had in previous years (e.g., George W. Bush cannot be granted a position on this list, despite the fact that he is a douchebag of earth-shattering proportions, simply because he did nothing this year that we haven't already come to expect from a douchebag like him; the same holds true for Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, O.J. Simpson and Matt Drudge. It should be stated however that Dick Cheney, despite shooting an old man in the face in 2006, is not on the list primarily because he isn't a douchebag so much as he is pure, unadulterated evil). Only those whose douchebagginess was specifically prominent or noteworthy between the dates of January 1st, 2006 and December 31st, 2006 will be eligible for consideration. Also, among the factors taken into account in determining a person's or group's ranking on this list, special recognition will be given to those who are not only douchebags themselves, but who influence others to become douchebags and therefore contribute to the overall cause of continued worldwide douchebaggery. Finally, the likelihood that a person's or group's douchebagginess will never rise above that displayed during the past year will also be considered when determining their rank, and the capital of Nebraska is Lincoln.
And so, without further ado -- send in the douchebags.
#10 -- James Frey
Massengill Scale: 2 pts Vinegar/8 pts Water/100 pts Bullshit
The Facts: Living proof that, as we often tell our children, you really can be anything you want to be in life -- as long as you're a talented liar and have the blessing of Oprah -- James Frey went from being a hack screenwriter to being a hugely successful hack novelist thanks to his best-seller A Million Little Pieces. Unfortunately, he never bothered to tell anyone that he was, in fact, a novelist. It wasn't until January of 2006, when The Smoking Gun website revealed that 90% of Frey's "memoir" was nothing more than fabricated nonsense, that Little Jimmy's pieces really began to fall apart. Not long after that, Oprah revealed that 100% of Frey's supposed tough-guy persona was fabricated nonsense by bitch-slapping him on national television and banishing him to the Phantom Zone of cultural obscurity as only Ms. Winfrey can.
"Wow, what a douchebag!" Moment: Attempting to perpetuate the well-crafted illusion that he's Mickey Rourke circa 1987, Frey, in his follow-up "memoir" My Friend Leonard, detailed the difficulties he had as an "artist" watching his brilliant screenplay ruined by a moronic director, a lousy actor and an uncooperative studio in what was an obvious attempt to blame anyone he could think of in an effort to distance himself from 1998's decidedly un-bad-ass flop Kissing a Fool, starring Douchebag Hall-of-Famer David Schwimmer.
Mitigating Factor: He did embarrass Oprah; that's gotta be worth something.
Dishonorable Mention: Judith Regan, who managed to prove that there are grotesque spectacles even Rupert Murdoch will refuse to be associated with, when she watched her pet project -- O.J. Simpson's sickening book and TV special -- die its own violent and public death at the very last minute. Her job soon followed suit.
#9 -- Danny Bonaduce
Massengill Scale: 4 pts Vinegar/6 pts Water/32 pts Vodka/15 pts Anabolic Steroids/127 pts Ham
The Facts: What can you possibly say about a man who has the word "douche" right in his name? 2006 was a big year for Danny Partridge, as he proved that there was absolutely no depth of ludicrously shameful self-exploitation he wasn't willing to plumb to remain on television -- even if it meant being sandwiched (no pun intended) in between Celebrity Fit Club and The Surreal Life on VH1. Breaking Bonaduce proved to be a modest success, as Danny drank, stomped, cursed, raged, threatened to kill his wife and just generally confirmed that either child stars should be required to prove at a certain age that they're well-adjusted enough to be allowed to go on living -- or that Los Angeles should just be sunk into the Pacific Ocean with a cluster of nuclear missiles.
"Wow, what a douchebag!" Moment: There are so many to choose from, but in the end it's no contest -- Danny's "suicide attempt" in which he used an unbroken disposable razor to supposedly try to slash his wrists.
Mitigating Factor: You have to hand it to someone who thinks he's willing to die to remain culturally relevant; Howard Beale would be proud. Also, we never expected much out of Danny anyway; he was on The Partridge Family for Christ's sake.
Dishonorable Mention: Sadly, Flavor Flav, who continues his single-handed decimation of the legacy of the brilliant Public Enemy with his unforgivable antics on The Flavor of Love.
#8 -- Warren Jeffs
Massengill Scale: 10 pts Vinegar/0 pts Holy Water/70 pts Kool-aid
The Facts: Sure, Ted Haggard made bigger headlines, but was he on the FBIs Ten Most Wanted list last year? Jeffs, leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints -- a frightening off-shoot of Mormonism which still practices polygamy -- has painted himself as the one true prophet of God since the death of his father, the equally cuddly Rulon Jeffs (who, incidentally, was the inspiration for Harry Dean Stanton's character on HBO's excellent Big Love). As the prophet, seer, revelator and Jesus's hand-picked douchebag, Warren took it upon himself to set up arranged marriages for girls as young as thirteen -- marrying as many as eighty women and children himself (he still refers to all of them as his "wives") and banishing boys and men whom he believed to be threats to his sexual supremacy. He was arrested on August 28th of last year, and is now facing charges of sexual assault on a minor and conspiracy to commit sexual assault on a minor, among others. He's also encouraged his fundamentalist followers not to pay federal taxes, but has insisted that they draw as much as possible from social programs like welfare -- a process the FLDS church refers to as "bleeding the beast."
Mitigating Factor: None whatsoever. Jeffs is living proof that douchebags can occasionally be evil, dangerous fuckers. Accordingly, somebody should put a bullet in him.
Dishonorable Mention: Yeah, Reverend Ted was a pretty big douchebag, wasn't he.
#7 -- Rosie O' Donald
Massengill Scale: 1,357,423 equal pts Vinegar and Cheeseburgers for her; his consistently diluted by Grecian Formula and the Lip Gloss of girls young enough to be his great-granddaughter
The Facts: Who would've thought that the holiday season -- traditionally a time of peace and love -- could bring us such unrestrained bile from two such hideous creatures? Already Lifetime Achievement Award-winners from the Academy of Douchebag Arts & Sciences, Rosie O' Donnell and Donald Trump showed the newcomers how it's done, by pulling off the extraordinary feat of actually, somehow, outdoing all of the ridiculously pin-headed things they'd done throughout respective careers both long and illustrious. Their bitter dog-fight on national television just before the holidays, with each assuming a role of laughable self-righteousness, was the stuff of douchebag legend. Rosie accused Trump of being a lecherous, narcissistic shithead -- which of course he is; Trump meanwhile accused Rosie of being a fat, loudmouthed slob -- which of course she is. Most heart-warming during all of this: the spectacle of the once-venerated Barbara Walters being forced to step in and referee the idiocy. It almost made you long for the subtle, classy days of Star Jones.
"Wow, what a douchebag!" Moment: For him, it was the initial action that started the whole thing; namely, his smug "pardoning" of Miss USA Tara Conner -- which called to mind Amon Goeth's disturbing attempt at displaying power through mercy in Schindler's List. For her, it was pulling her fat hair over her fat head and snorting like a pig in what was supposed to be an impression of Trump -- one that instead wound up looking like just another night at the O'Donnell dinner table.
Mitigating Factor: The fact that they finally just killed each other in the end -- or maybe that was only a dream I had.
Dishonorable Mention: I said almost made you long for Star Jones. In 2006, the second most despicable woman on television went out with the kind of grace and dignity we'd come to expect from her. It was technically no more heinous than anything she'd done previously, however Star deserves mention simply because, thankfully, you're likely to never hear from her again -- unless of course you frequent the all-you-can-eat food & fixins bar at Sizzler. Just listen for the shrill screams of, "Don't you know who I am?!"
#6 -- Michael Richards
Massengill Scale: 130 pts Piss & Vinegar/2 pts Water/375 pts Racist Venom/1 pt Junior Mints
The Facts: All he had to do was keep his big mouth shut, collect the small fortune he was making in residuals, and live out the rest of his days being remembered as the man behind one of the greatest characters in the history of television. Did that really sound like such a difficult thing -- such an undignified legacy? Instead, like Danny Bonaduce (#9), Richards suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder -- meaning that he goes batshit when all the attention is suddenly taken away from him. His bizarre tirade against a group of black hecklers -- in particular, his revisionist history lesson about the proper way not so much to lynch a person as rotisserie roast him -- left a lot of people scratching their heads; among them, Jerry Seinfeld, who looked about as uncomfortable defending his friend and former castmate as the rest of us did watching Richards's painfully insincere apology -- or any sitcom since Seinfeld that's featured a former star of the show.
"Wow, what a douchebag!" Moment: Somewhere between the fourth and fifth "nigger."
Mitigating Factor: At least there was something memorable about Richards's stand-up routine.
Dishonorable Mention: Malibu's own Ambassador to Israel, Mel Gibson.
#5 -- Madonna
Massengill Scale: 63 pts Malt Vinegar/120 pts Kabbalah Water
The Facts: Watching Madonna pathetically rage against the dying of relevancy is as humorous an endeavor as it is tragic. Over the past several years, the woman who was once the world's pop culture inamorata has recast herself as a fag-hag diva, a British socialite, a disciple of nonsensical Jewish mysticism, a rapper, a desperate lesbian dominatrix, "Disco Granny" from the old Studio 54, an overly Pilatesed piece of beef jerky, and -- most recently -- a writer of children's books and proof that Africa is in desperate need of its own Amber Alert system. As expected, Madonna's "adoption" of a child from a Malawian village was less about helping a young boy than it was about Madge turning Africa into her own personal puppy-farm from which she could grab a living, breathing accessory -- and get her name back in the papers to boot. As I wrote at the time, if it comes down to the question of what's better for a child: living in a hole, subsisting on a spoonful of Red Cross grain every two days and probably dying of AIDS by the age of four, or being raised by Madonna -- I think the answer is obvious.
"Wow, what a douchebag!" Moment: Madonna asserting her intention to return to the same village to "adopt" yet another child. I said it once before, but it bears repeating: You know what Madge? Why not just do what your kind has done for centuries -- build a gingerbread house in the woods and let the kids come to you.
Mitigating Factor: Bedtime Stories is still a pretty damn good album.
Dishonorable Mention: Madge may be as douchebaggy as they come, but at least she didn't get anyone killed last year; Nancy Grace on the other hand, did. TV's wretched legal pit-bull managed to both browbeat a woman into suicide and irreparably tarnish the otherwise decent name of CNN in one Southern-drawled swoop. Sure her fiance' was murdered years ago, but you know what? He got off easy. Remember how I said that Star Jones was the second most despicable woman on television?
#4 -- The 109th "Do-Nothing" Congress of the United States of America
Massengill Scale: 117 pts Vinegar (for BBQ Sauce)/67 pts Bottled Water/10 pts Commandments/1,243,547 pts Money from Jack Abramoff/maf54 pts Salacious E-Mails/8 pts Years for Duke Cunningham/24 pts Average Hours of Work per Week
The Facts: It would take a year-and-a-half just to build the infrastructure necessary to fully document the transgressions of the 109th Congress -- unless of course you offered to take bribes from lobbyists or kickbacks from contractors, which would certainly speed up the process. Last year we were reminded over and over again that Washington, D.C. was originally built on swampland; you'd be hard-pressed to find a larger collection of toads, snakes and blood-sucking insects anywhere else (and come to think of it, Dennis Hastert does look an awful lot like a turtle). From their average three-day work-week, to their literal kicking down of Terri Schiavo's hospice door to ram a feeding tube back down her throat in the name of Jesus, to their casual use of terms like "Nuclear Option" to crush dissent in the minority; from Mark Foley's obsession with young boys, to Duke Cunningham and William Jefferson's obsession with big money, to Tom DeLay's obsession with recreating America as a theocracy; from Jack Abramoff writing checks to buy influence, to GOP lawmakers giving our Idiot in Charge a blank check to conduct his failed war -- it's a wonder this country survived long enough to vote most of them the hell out.
"Wow, what a douchebag!" Moment: You want that infrastructure built by when?
Mitigating Factor: The mind is capable of astonishing acts of repression which aid in self-preservation. Now that so many of them are relegated to the history books -- if not simply relegated to their cells -- the whole thing feels like nothing more than a very, very bad dream.
Dishonorable Mention: You thought that Rush Limbaugh couldn't get any more painfully cretinous, did you? Then you watched him flail around like a beached whale in a gruesome parody of Parkinson's sufferer Michael J. Fox and you thought, "I was wrong." Yes you were my friend -- yes you were.
#3 -- Almighty Oprah
Massengill Scale: 0 pts Vinegar/12 pts Water/23 pts Oxygen/16 pts Nitrogen/10 pts Nuclear Fusion, Allowing Her to Become Pure Energy at Will
The Facts: Understanding that Oprah is not all that she appears to be is a little like being Rowdy Roddy Piper's character in the John Carpenter cult-classic They Live: you've got the glasses on and you seem to be the only one among the sleeping sheep who has any idea that there's a wolf in your midst, and of course when you try to warn others, no one will believe you. Each year, this multi-media leviathan grows larger and more powerful, threatening to eventually become a black hole which will consume all culture as we know it -- absorbing and assimilating it like the Borg then spitting it back out in a fresh, new package of Oprah-approved, soccer-mom-ready banality. What makes Oprah eligible for inclusion on our countdown however isn't so much her homogenous appeal to the lowest common denominator -- or the fact that she seems to drag every bit of authentically vital art down with her; it's the simple fact that she is quite possibly self-obsession and solipsism incarnate -- no matter how hard she works to make people believe otherwise. Last year alone, she berated James Frey (#10) not because he lied to America but because he lied to her; she held a "Legends Ball" in which she supposedly paid homage to black female pioneers and trendsetters just like her; she prepared to open an unnecessarily expensive school for young girls in Africa, making sure the cameras were always there to get pictures of her (wearing long, false eye-lashes and heavy make-up no less) as she came riding in to the rescue in her learjet; and of course, her face once again adorned the cover of every single issue of her magazine throughout the year. There's nothing genuine, uncalculated or purely altruistic about Oprah -- all there is, is one big fucking douchebag.
"Wow, what a douchebag!" Moment: Her convenient and insincere co-opting of black street lingo in an effort to defend herself against accusations made by 50 Cent that she discriminates against hip-hop stars by not inviting them to be guests on her show.
Mitigating Factor: 50 Cent blows.
Dishonorable Mention: Unfunny comic and hack author Greg Behrendt, who last year managed to further assert himself as the poster-boy for blurring the line between the authentic and the artificial by parlaying his job as a writer on Sex & The City into a talk show which deals with -- wait for it -- relationships. As I wrote at the time: a substandard comedian takes a gig on a show about women who sleep with the Manhattan phone book but can't make any of their relationships work and uses it to write self-help books for the kind of vapid women who watch the show and can't make any of their relationships work, then gets his own talk show where he attempts to tell the same women how to make their relationships work. If that's not enough to cement his position as a grade-A douchebag, just take a look at him.
#2 -- Perez Hilton
Massengill Scale: 10 pts Vinegar/10 pts Water/10 pts Flirtinis/100 pts Semen
The Facts It would be easy to run down the Britsay Federlohans of the world, or detail the ways in which the heir/heiress crowd was a blight on humanity last year -- but that's to be expected. In this case I'm going to defer to the sage advice of the ancient philosopher Obi-wan Kenobi, who said, "Who's the more foolish, the fool or the fool who follows him?" If you've ever caught yourself thinking that if everyone would just fucking ignore them, these attention-whores would go away once and for all, then by all means aim your ire where it belongs. Born Mario Armando Lavendeira Jr., this sycophantic uber-douchebag spun around like Wonder-Woman and was reborn as Perez Hilton, self-proclaimed "Queen" of the gossip bloggers -- and 2006 marked the year of his ascendence. What separates Mario's site from other tongue-in-cheek celeb-bashers -- some of which I count myself a fan of -- is his complete lack of any discernable talent (a child could draw little semen stains and write "slut" on paparazzi pictures), as well as his propensity for playing favorites; in particular, his hands-off approach to his celebrity namesake, dyna-whore Paris Hilton. Mario also has a habit of trying to out male stars he believes to be gay, and often likes to party with the very celebrities he's crucifying on his website, which essentially makes his critical opinion worthless. He's basically an oversized and overpaid sixteen-year-old starfucking groupie, and the kind of offensive flaming-gay stereotype that would make even Paul Lynde roll over in his grave.
"Wow, what a douchebag!" Moment: Anytime he appeared on E!, the network that's to Los Angeles vacuity what the old Tass News Agency was to Soviet communism.
Mitigating Factor: Give me a minute. Nope -- not a one.
Dishonorable Mention: I may be willing to neglect Britney and her bottomless nights on the town and Lindsay and her bottomless coke bullet, but at least one target of the online tabloids deserves attention: Brandon Davis -- he of the now-legendary "firecrotch" tirade, and the unbelievable asshole who's never worked a day in his life -- is quite possibly the single most loathesome creature on the planet. Someone kill him -- please?
#1 -- Dane Cook
Massengill Scale: 0 pts Vinegar/231 pts Watered-down Jokes/135 pts Warm Keg Beer/76 pts Hair Wax/362 pts Stolen Material/1,664,347 pts MySpace "Friends"
The Facts: Where to even begin. If there's a patron saint of America's collegiate douchebag set, it's Dane Cook. He's influenced more modern-day, popped-collared frat-boys than Coors Light, the 136th viewing of Fight Club, and the delusion that "let me get you another beer" constitutes a great pick-up line. Likewise, he's greased the loins of more stupid lower-back-tattooed college girls than GHB. These unparalleled contributions to worldwide douchebaggery alone would probably earn him the top spot on the countdown, but when you factor in Cook's own titanic ego and equally monumental lack of actual talent, it's a lock. A lot has been made of his affinity for stealing material from truly gifted, hard-working comics like Louis CK and Joe Rogan -- guys who don't sell out arenas, as Cook did last year, simply because they lack the one quality which is truly responsible for Mr. Stupidfinger's otherwise unjustifiable success: his relative easiness on the eyes. Cook knows how to promote himself and how to play up his pretty-boy image, which has made him the perfect comedic icon for the MySpace generation: all style and absolutely no substance -- the equivalent of the borderline retarded class-clown willing to do anything for a laugh who, thanks to the internet, now has the ability to beam his ridiculous, repetitive schtick out to millions, turning the entire world into the class that's forced to put up with him. In 2006, HBO -- in a move that almost negated all the years of excellent original programming for which the network was responsible previously -- gave Cook his own live special and even green-lit the tediously unfunny vanity project Dane Cook's Tourgasm. Both were savaged by critics, but as anyone who's ever gone to college knows, frat-boys always chalk denunciation up to jealousy -- thus did Cook and his loyal cadre of juvenile zealots. He made the move to film by starring in Waiting and Employee of the Month, both of which went nowhere, perhaps portending the merciful end of Cook's fifteen minutes. It simply can't come a moment too soon. Truly great comedy is born out of insecurity, pain, and an incisive drive to shake up the status quo (Bill Hicks, Richard Pryor, Lenny Bruce, Chris Rock, Patton Oswalt, David Cross); it damn sure doesn't come from the guy about whom the other frat-brothers say, "You GOTTA come meet this guy, dude -- he's fucking HILARIOUS!"
"Wow, what a douchebag!" Moment: Impossible to nail down just one, but his legendary habit of running long during stand-up performances at comedy clubs -- consequently knocking off the comics scheduled to follow him -- is probably a good jumping-off point.
Mitigating Factor: The fact that -- though the frat-boys in question would never admit it and may not even be aware of it -- Cook is responsible for the secret gay urges of even the most homophobic of college studs.
Dishonorable Mention: Andy fucking Milonakis -- basically an unattractive Dane Cook for the pre-teen set, and hence the future of douchebaggery in America. Anybody know where to find the Seven Daggers of Meggido?
Final Disclaimer: You may have noticed that aside from a brief bastardization of his good name, I've neglected to mention the man many would consider to be 2006's Douchebag Emeritus, Kevin Federline. The bottom line: it's just too easy. Consider K-Fed this year's automatic induction into the Hall of Fame, with the only mitigating factor being that you'll never see him again, once again unless you frequent Sizzler; he'll be the one serving Star Jones.