Sunday, July 03, 2011

The Origins of a "Douchebag"

douche bag
a small syringe for douching the vagina, esp. as a contraceptive measure.
• informal a loathsome or contemptible person (used as a term of abuse).

Nope. Neither of those definitions do the trick. Not for the way "douchebag" or the shortened "douche" is used these days. Maybe one of Urban Dictionary's 207 descriptions nail it... but probably not. To be sure, these days it's a ubiquitous term for smarmy jerks - often of the preppy or meathead variety. But like "epic", "hipster", or any fashionable slang, it's really overused. After a while everything is "epic" and everyone is a "douchebag". Just lazy, lazy communication.

So let's bring it back to the basics and at least use this (notably sexist) insult with some precision and finesse. And as with all important cultural trends, we look for illumination from Booger of Revenge of the Nerds:

Conveniently enough Booger, or actor Curtis Armstrong, appears a year later in Better Off Dead to further illustrate the characteristics of the prototypical douchebag.

And if you're not convinced of the mainstream's recent acceptance/overuse of this term, check out this list of movie quotes (from IMDb, where 56 results included only 8 references from before 2000):

The Social Network (2010)
Sorry! My Prada's at the cleaners! Along with my hoodie and my 'fuck you' flip-flops, you pretentious douchebag!

Jennifer's Body (2009)
Who cares about Jennifer, and those douchebags with their douchebag haircuts and their man-scara? People just burned to death!

The Happening (2008)
All right, be scientific, douchebag.

Cloverfield (2008)
You're not good enough for her. She's beautiful, she's charming. And you, I love you, but let's face it you're kind of a douchebag.

Crank (2006)
Bonjour, douchebag. I thought you might be interested in a little deal.

The Departed (2006)
Well, make more fuckin' money. This is America. You don't make money, then you're a fuckin' douchebag.