Schmidt might be Mitt Romney’s pseudo-son in more ways than one. We heard him list how he “crushed it” this Tuesday, but Paul Ryan had already used the same words to describe Romney’s presidential debate performance last week. “I told him after the debate that he crushed it,” Ryan told the Weekly Standard. As Phil suggests about the Corona ad, it doesn’t really matter what is crushed, so much as who exactly is articulating the “crushing.” Schmidt, Paul Ryan, Ambiguously Successful Corona Clients. Let’s have a toast for the douchebags. Every one of them that I know.
My love for douchebags, evidently, goes deep. Call it my cultural wiring! But if, as Phil suggests, Schmidt and Danny are emblematic douchebags, then I’m obviously not meeting the right ones. Which leads me to question the d-bag categorization in general: can a man be a douchebag and more? Or is “douchebag” an identifying term that seeks to disregard those identified entirely? While Schmidt’s neighbours might aim to dismiss him, he, like Danny, isn’t the target of our, the viewer’s, dismissal. We hate them, we love to hate them, we sometimes even love to love them. Schmidt and Danny are believable objects of meaningful romantic potential despite, and sometimes even because of, their douchebaggery.
I’d hazard to say that we’ve all seen douchebags win adoration with their watermelon smiles and iron biceps, but what allows definitive douchebags like Schmidt and Danny to earn love is television’s ability to show the bro, behind the scenes. These pockets of self-reflection (as Phil notes, “Schmidt knows he has a problem”) seem somehow to recuperate the douchebag, as if to say, look, dude has a sensitive side, he means well, and maybe you’re the jerk. It’s unfortunate that this sympathetic turn takes so little, but if I listed the fictional douchebags that...read more