The Taxonomy Of Proud Assholes

There have always been dicks, douchebags and asses. But it's only in our time that the pursuit of assholery has become not just acceptable but a quality — nay, a full-time job to which individuals strive. Will it ever end?

Maybe! There are tiny signs that the charms of the Proud Asshole are palling. An article in today's Guardian says the macho chef, a la Gordon Ramsey, may be on the wane, and the dismal ticket sales of Tucker Max's I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell adaptation give all sentient beings reason to express cautious optimism. (Even if we sort of liked Proud Asshole Logan on The Gilmore Girls. But he was really more a classic rich-boy dick. ) How many dicks does it take to get to the end of this "trend?" The world may never know, but there are still more than enough types of assholes to go around. Let's group them by organisms, shall we?

"Literary" Assholes:
It's a tradition as old as Hemingway, but even Norman Mailer didn't have a website blaring the words "I'm Tucker Max and I'm an asshole." That also wasn't his entire gimmick. Just part of it.

Pundit Assholes:
Talking heads have taken like loud-mouthed fish to water to the idea of the professional jerk. Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter have both positioned themselves as deliberate provocateurs whose every other word is designed to inflame and incite while they sit back, smirking.

Veteran Assholes:
Any discussion of this subject must of course involve Howard Stern, one of the first professional assholes, someone who embraced the label and saw its commercial possibilities. And extra points for keepin' on keepin' on, unflaggingly. And the fact that he probably influenced the persona of everyone else here.

Comedian Assholes:
Don Rickles has been on this shtick for a while, but even he did not sing "I'm an Asshole." For that, we needed autistic kid-ripper Denis Leary.

Musical Assholes:
We may have lost the bravado of Oasis and co., but it's been replaced by something altogether more contrived. In another era, John Mayer probably would have stuck to earnest and sincere. Now, he's jumped on the asshole bandwagon, insulting journalists, leering about exes' sexual prowess and fancying himself a hipster provocateur. On the distaff side, Katy Perry seems to be making a valiant stab at the title, pursued closely by the Bieber-bashing Ke$ha.

Seducer Assholes:
While the vast majority of "pick-up artists" are actually just dorky losers, Paul Janka has gone the deliberate-asshole route, with underwhelming consequences. And to this category we'll add vague media personality, "financial advisor" and self-styled sexy asshole Arthur Kade.

Political Assholes:
No shockers here; assholes are on a trajectory from student government. Assholery may be a requirement, along with crying on cue. But is it just us, or is Rahm kind of drinking the smirky Proud Asshole cool-aid?

Reality Assholes:
Reality TV has been a boon for self-styled villains, from those scheming for twigs on Survivor to the assorted buffoons of Tool Academy to, natch, the guidos and ettes of the Garden State. However, perhaps nothing has made a greater contribution to the deliberate-asshole firmament than The Hills, which gifted us not just with the tiresome and ubiquitous Spencer "Fleshbeard" Pratt, but the self-serious thespian JustinBobby.

Fictional Assholes:
Lest you worry the proud asshole has been confined to reality, fear not: amongst many others, we've had asshole pitcher Kenny Powers from Eastbound & Down, every male character in a Chuck Palahniuk book, and everyone Bradley Cooper plays ever, all of whom are kind of like Steff in Pretty in Pink, except not sexy.

Actor Assholes:
While Hollywood has never been short of self-serious, self-aggrandizing, arrogant and abusive personalities, PR has generally discouraged everyone but Sean Penn from displaying it. Nowadays, however, the thesps are jumping on the Out and Proud Asshole bandwagon. We have Surly Assholes (ahem, Russell Crowe) and then Cocky Assholes (Jeremy Piven) all of whom seem blissfully unaware of the fact that they're not essential to the world's functioning. To this we'll add Desperate Assholes, a category best represented by the aggressively vulgar and unpleasant Dustin Diamond.

Culinary Assholes:
While, as Anthony Bourdain has informed us, this is kind of an asshole's game generally, a few seem to have made their public names as particular P.A.s: the aforementioned Gordon Ramsay, of course; but also the smirking Bobby Flay. Because everyone knows you can't make a cheese souffle without a side of profanity-laden abuse!

Recipes For A Macho Memoir [Guardian]