This American Bro: A Portrait of the Worst Guy Ever
Mar 22 2014
Last week, VICE's Clive Martin wrote about the growing phenomenon of the young British douchebag. Our counterparts across the Atlantic saw something of themselves in this – a part of themselves that they didn't necessarily like. Behold, the American Bro.
It is almost 9AM on St. Patrick’s Day, and he is on the Metro North train to Manhattan from some grassy, forgettable Westchester suburb. When he boarded the train he was carrying a case of light beer, but now it is on the floor, obstructing the aisle, in everyone’s way – his entire existence is in everyone’s way. He is wearing a North Face fleece and sunglasses made of neon-orange plastic. He is pulsing like the mercury on a cartoon thermometer; he is ready to explode through the glass. It seems impossible for a human being to care this much about recreation, to care this much about celebrating something so tiny, so contrived, but that is why he is alive. He will come, he will see, he will conquer. He will vomit out the window of a taxi. He is the American Bro.
Being flagrantly offensive, irritating people, making noise, commanding an audience – this is what fuels him; this is his required voltage. He is on the phone with someone named Ryan or Tyler or Kyle; he is saying “cunt” or “nigger” or “slut” out loud, then half-apologising to no one in particular. "I GOT NO FILTER, BRO." He tilts his head and neck back, cackling at the ceiling, electrified by the degree to which he does not give a fuck, by this ability to appall other people, to make your mouth hang wide open like you were witnessing a wildfire. He is not saying words now but just grunting and ejecting "YOOOO" and "DUDE" in varying cadences, asking Ryan or Tyler or Kyle when they are getting there, what they brought, if they are pumped. He is pushing it to the limit, going hard, pouring Jäger into a plastic cup, making the conductor wait. All he can hear is his brain-engine humming, the bolts coming loose, people chanting his name. He is a renegade, he is looking women in the eyes for a period of time that blew past bold and is bordering on restraining order, but maybe this turns her on, he thinks; maybe he is dangerous, maybe he is going to walk over to her right now. He is alive to a degree that you will never be capable of, and he is scaring all the inhabitants of the universe back into their homes.
He has existed for as long as there have been gluttonous men dedicating ceremonies to their own existence. Anyone who objects is either a slut or a hater or a minority, and you need to GET ON HIS LEVEL, SON. The only things that change are the miscellaneous wristbands he wears, and the brand of energy drink on the promotional T-shirt they gave him. He is a chest-pounding, chandelier-swinging, Godzilla-id mutant who does not need friends, just a hierarchy of other men around him who will simply acknowledge the noises he is making, his indignance, his fury. He doesn’t want relationships; he wants witnesses. Don’t listen, just turn up the volume. Amplify this moment. He is memorialising his past immediately – minutes after something has happened it has become lore in the form of a mobile upload. He is grinning as he walks along club lines he thinks he can cut. And when the bouncer doesn’t care who he is, he shouts to neighbouring galaxies that this place is fucking gay anyway, you bitches, and then he laughs and laughs, and he and Ryan and Tyler and Kyle shove each other until they reach a crosswalk, where he leans over to WAITWAITWAIT, look at this text, Rachael wants it, she so wants it, bro. She needs this dick to survive. Nothing has ever been as essential to one human’s survival as his dick is to Rachael’s at this moment. His shirt has come untucked, it never fit in the first place; he is thinking about Rachael, and cumming in Rachael’s mouth, and then ignoring Rachael for the rest of her life. But he is also thinking about where the fuck can I get something to eat?
He is always eating. Not anything in particular, just FOOD. Things. Condensed matter. He is all about CONSUMPTION. Every decision is dictated by the pursuit of this. He consumes women, exploits weaknesses, spends 23 dollars at In-N-Out and posts a picture of the receipt to Instagram. To him, everything is a dick pic, a flex, a look-how-hard-I-get, a watch-me-fuck-the-universe. Fast food restaurants and insecure redheads from Murray Hill – there is no difference. Not because he really wants the thing, but because no one else should have it, because he wants the world to know that he will attain it if he pleases. Everything is a display of dominance; he conquers things, he rolls deep. He is bench reps, maxing out, calorie arithmetic, choking down cans of tuna fish, contorting his body in the mirror to see that one specific muscle articulation.
He doesn’t simply celebrate his existence; he celebrates how much better his existence is than everyone else’s. No one goes as hard as he does; no one has killed it like he has. He never gets hangovers or takes no for an answer or fucks the ugly friend. He crushes that next-level pussy, bruh bruh, only the finest. He is pinstripes and full Windsor knots, smashing bottles and spiking footballs, things that are irrepressible, things that smack you in the face.
He is comfortable. This needs to be understood. He is on a log flume holding a drink with an umbrella in it, because ironic homoeroticism is the height of masculinity. This is how he thinks. There is no stress in his life, no obstacles, nothing impeding this path to pussy and alcohol and beige, deep-fried carbohydrates. Not her inhibitions, not her less-attractive, responsible friend who is telling her to go home, not max capacities, not having to work the next day. In the presence of exposed female skin he is feral, he is a scavenger and he will sleep only when he is fed.
These bros inhabit a world that is two-dimensional, a primitive arcade game, something to type their initials into when it’s over. He either moves forward or backward, never sideways. He is smashing things with his head, stomping on lesser opponents, defeating BOSSES, running away with blond princesses over his shoulder. All toughness is an affectation, manufacturing INTIMIDATION and REALNESS with tribal tattoos, distressed jeans, Timberland boots, dog tags, pit stains.
He wants to be recognised, to participate in a ritual. That is the only way he understands success. He is in San Juan or Key West or Señor Frog's or some cookie-cutter debauchery enclave. He is going to the Groove Cruise and to Holy Ship!, literally exceeding the domestic capacity for his bro requirements. He needs another country to sustain his biological need to be awful. He is wearing rosary beads, loving his grandmother, keeping a prayer card in his room somewhere, feeling passionately about State College athletics, going HAM on jet skis, having some vague job at a company that is named VERITAS FINANCIAL or CENTURION. He is trips to Cancun, apps at the Cheesecake Factory, theme parties in off-campus apartments, tailgating, quoting Will Ferrell movies, drinking shitty light beers that he can disparage for being shitty, though he feels proud because he drank them anyway. He is at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, at Santacon, at happy hour on Cinco de Mayo, in New Orleans for Mardi Gras. He owns more hoodies than books, more hoodies than there are torsos throughout the entire planet. He is pre-gaming in the hotel room, believing in the concept of pre-gaming in the first place, unbuttoning his shirt and popping his collar at the casino. He is howling from a megaphone that there is nothing that can contain him, while simultaneously tiptoeing along a rigid standard of COOL.
His Facebook cover photo is a picture of an automobile. Not one he owns, necessarily, just an automobile—a thing that drives, a thing that is bright and loud, a vroom-vroom box with engine make noise go fast. He is peeling out, throwing trash out the window, doing the Usain Bolt pose in the Shake Shack line, wearing sunglasses indoors. He is making it explicitly clear that he is an asshole, wearing that asshole-ness like a crown, celebrating his asshole-ness till he gets on the Jumbotron, and then he is performing the universal blow-me sign next to his friend.
He is pretending he has something to inspect on his biceps just so he can get lost in every curve and angle, the quality of his tan, wondering about how perfect he is. He is lounging in in-ground swimming pools, half-drunken contemplations in bar bathroom stalls about the visibility of his oblique lines and whether he is swole enough, whether his hairline has receded, whether he is losing it, whether he needs another tattoo. He is at Olive Garden for all-you-can-eat breadsticks. He is never calling her back, he is texting his friends that he never called her back, he is moments of solitude when he wishes desperately that he had called her back, and then he is doing 75 pushups because NO REGRETS. He is crushing it at brunch, getting loud and asked to leave and never come back to brunch. He is something to fear, something that has been acknowledged, for better or worse.
He uploads thousands of pictures: no one tagged, no captions, just there, documenting his need to be ON at all times. He is doing vulgar things to statues, pretending to fuck them in the ass, pretending to make them suck his dick. Putting them in a headlock. The world has two purposes for him: He fucks things, and he fucks things up. He brings things to ruins.
He can only interpret things through your response, by the size of the pile of rubble. He needs to make you gasp. He needs to be thrown out of somewhere. To be banned. To have an advisory sticker smeared across his forehead. He wants to be told, "We give up, you’re out of control, we cannot handle you." He has exceeded our tolerance. He is MAXIMUM RPM DOUCHEBAG at all times, flying down the interstate till the tachometer needle falls off, till the cops are in his rearview, till he’s listening to Journey’s greatest hits as loud as the stereo will go. This is his dream. This is his life. He is the worst person alive, and he has no idea.
John Saward likes O.V. Wright and eating guacamole with no pants on. He lives in Connecticut. Follow him on Twitter.