celebrity douchebag is a fascinating creature. All of them
unique in their way, they share a mixed bag of traits—a
furnace of emotions, fraught with neuroses, perfectionists,
suspicious of everyone and—paradoxically—crippling
shyness. Observed from a safe distance, they can be entertaining.
Hearing anyone bark ‘do you know who I am?’ is
always funny. Inevitably, they have talent to burn. Who would
put up with them otherwise?
a rock in Hollywood and you’ll hit one: there’s
the red-faced sputtering super producer threatening to destroy
the person at the other end of the phone. Also, the prima
donnas and A-listers with absurd demands: no eye contact on
set. Trailer stocked with Evian water, not for drinking but
for hair-washing. There’s the Oscar-decorated elder
statesman who in real life is a surly prick and the lecherous
creep who barks at the busboy then smiles lasciviously at
the young ingenue across the table. In the upper echelons
of fashion media, there’s the bitch-on-wheels influencers
and editrixes, not to mention the pouty supermodel who sends
her meal back three times. All of which may sound like a slapdash
of cliches but cliches are true.
and Manhattan are typical habitats but douchey celebrities
can turn up anywhere, making life a misery for the maitre
d’s, concierges, assistants, valets and various helpers
in their path. If that includes you, take heart: behind you
now is a social media cancel mob ready to pounce. This is
how it looks in the animal kingdom:
I first observed this phenomenon a few weeks back when James
Corden found himself in PR hot water. TLDR: Corden is a ginormous
douchebag whose ginormous douchebaggery got him banned from
Balthazar, a fancy NY brasserie. Apparently the comedian raved
like a hangry Karen over his wife’s improperly prepared
omelette and on a separate occasion over a hair in his food.
“Get us another round of drinks this second and also
take care of all of our drinks so far,” he groused.
“This way I won’t write any nasty reviews on yelp.”
news of his behaviour reached Balthazar owner Keith McNally,
the restaurateur took to Instagram and, in front of his 100k+
followers, told James Corden—in not so many words—to
eat a bag of dicks:
Corden is a hugely gifted comedian but a tiny cretin of a
man. And the most abusive customer to my Balthazar servers
since the restaurant opened 25 years ago. I don’t often
86 a customer but today I 86’d Corden. It did not make
for Keith McNally. Though possibly spurred by New York’s
crippling staff shortages, he sided against the rich powerful
celebrity in favour of his floor crew, putting them squarely
in the drivers’ seat. Working stiffs FTW. If Corden
wants to get his carney hands on Balthazar’s Belgium
waffles ever again, he better play nice.
up with my order serf or I’ll have you fired and drag
you mercilessly on Yelp. Don’t you know who I am?
In the pre-Twitter world, stories of celebrities behaving
monstrously in public travelled mainly through the grapevine.
That or via brief mentions in the tabloids, often as a blind
item. For decades, gatekeepers of glossy media formed a protection
racket around the worst offenders, airbrushing over a multitude
of sins. Mainstream media religiously adored JFK right up
until the internet came along with a series of alternate historical
the age of Twitter, the hall pass has been revoked. Within
hours of McNally’s Instagram post, Twitter lit up with
stories of the ‘James Corden is a ‘sh*tbag’
variety. Revelations included outward contempt toward ‘nobodies,’
that he may have lobbied to reduce writers’ pay and
was a corporate suck-up. Most damaging of all, his disastrous
2019 Reddit AMA (‘ask me anything’) thread resurfaced—the
one that went completely off the rails when pretty much every
question was in the vein of ‘Why are you such an a**hole?’
James Corden became Ellen 2.0. You’ll recall that Ellen
stepped on a similar rake in 2020 when it was revealed her
‘be kind’ persona was a fairy tale and her show
was a toxic waste dump in which lowly production staff were
bullied, belittled and even sexually harassed. In a grovelling
apology, she insisted this was not who she was. An unearthed
Tweet said otherwise:
So has the world been freed of this narcissistic scourge?
Not quite. There will always be those too big to cancel—too
talented, too much of a money-maker, too useful to the Establishment.
Consider Anna Wintour, someone so impervious to outside opinion,
one chilly glare in the direction of Twitter would cause it
to burst into flames. A woman so cold that, when asked by
her predecessor Grace Mirabella what job she wanted at Vogue,
Wintour replied “yours.” According to her biographer
Amy O’Dell, she is so unconcerned with approval, she
gets up from lunch after 40 minutes even if her lunch companion
is still eating. She once asked her photo department to retouch
the fat around a baby’s neck. Her mere presence is so
intimidating that a junior editor, finding herself sharing
the same elevator, fled in terror just before the doors closed.
a life-long approval junkie—a diplomat at heart and
high on Jordan Peterson’s ‘agreeability’
scale—I sometimes daydream about spending a day in Anna
Wintour’s Manolo Blahniks. What does it feel like to
literally drive someone out of an elevator?
pharmacists, drug dealers—anyone?—could we bottle
up a formula? A drug that blunts shame and guilt and the instinct
to relieve the discomfort of others. I’ve already written
the VO for the TV ad:
Do you apologize needlessly?
I apologized to a woman at the supermarket who ran her shopping
cart wheel into my Achilles heel.
Do you seek approval, even from strangers?
I tip 15 percent when the service is rotten!
Do you feel guilty for saying ‘no?’ Impulsively
fill the silence with mindless chatter? Feel like an imposter
at work meetings? Hesitate to take the last piece of pizza?
Check. Check. Check. Check.
Ask your doctor about Wintourica. Wintourica is a new medication
that helps with assertiveness. Don’t take Wintourica
if you’re pregnant or nursing. Wintourica can cause
. . . Blah blah blah. You get the idea.
are the chances the geniuses at Big Pharma can turn a pathologically
nice pushover like yours truly into an elevator-clearing,
baby fat-shaming harridan? Since they haven’t managed
to cure baldness or even the common cold, I’m guessing
‘low.’ Which is fine since it all sounds exhausting
and being a nobody douchebag—as opposed to a celebrity
douchebag—doesn’t preclude you from getting thrashed
on social media.