My Summer Lair Chapter #133: Have I Ever Been An Asshole?
Watching Assholes: A Theory I thought about Kanye West.
Often when his name comes up you instantly get some variation of “he’s an ass” or “he’s an asshole” as if it was some sort of empirical fact. Which I’ve always found utterly and entirely irrelevant: he’s paid to be creative and he does that well across a number of disciplines. Like Pharrell he’s maximizing his opportunities and leveraging his status which is exactly what you should be doing as Artist in this era. Is he an asshole? No clue and no interest…is he projecting a music video on various buildings around the world? Tell me more!
The documentary Assholes: A Theory directed by my guest John Walker is based on the 2012 book also called Assholes: A Theory by Aaron James (a Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Irvine).
I didn’t bring it up in the interview but I wondered about the loophole…
The loophole is if you can’t feel shame you can’t be shamed. I was finally able to articulate that simple idea after I read So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson (published: March 9, 2015).
Public shaming is part of the asshole culture we participate in. There’s a big difference in berating an able-bodied person for using a handicap spot to run into the store and get pop tarts and offensive tweets. Following Ronson’s book I concluded:
Shame Is Lame!
Shame doesn’t work if you don’t have the authority; the respect and weight to effectively trigger a sense of remorse or guilt.
It’s like trying to discipline someone else’s child; it doesn’t work. There’s no value in labelling politicians or celebrities (like Kanye) assholes…they’re often in their own media bubble and it’s rarely for their betterment. (That responsibility belongs to the people who know them well. You know the people who actually have the facts. Just because you read TMZ doesn’t mean you’re informed.)
Watching Assholes: A Theory I thought about myself which of course is also the whole point of the documentary. Hence the question: have I ever been.
Am I an asshole? is a wildly different yet still valid question and worth asking. Hopefully I am not alone. You’ve thought it too…perhaps questioned yourself and your behaviour; it’s not like I’m the only one who’s been a jerkface. That thought is distributing because it is true.
This’ll require a pen, paper and a seriously serious tea.
For now I enjoyed watching Assholes: A Theory; I smiled because it’s got John Cleese!
And that alone makes it fun and worth seeing. So Go!