Sucking Up to the Kardashians

in Culture/Hits from the Brain by

Am I just getting old, or does everything suck these days? Not everything. I shouldn’t say everything sucks; that’s inaccurate. Coffee’s still good, for one. GrubHub’s made the world a lot less sucky. But that’s pretty much it. Besides those two things—and this is just my humble, God’s honest opinion—everything mostly sucks. And it’s getting worse by the day.

The pandemic sucks, obviously. Pandemics usually do. You’re never gonna hear someone say, “Hey! This pandemic ain’t half bad!”—unless you’re in Miami surrounded by a bunch of 20-somethings sucking and fucking in the street without their masks on. Most people agree this pandemic sucks a big one.

These masks suck, too. You can’t breathe in them for shit, which is funny since we’re wearing the fuckers to protect ourselves from a virus that attacks our breathing. You can’t hear a thing anyone says. Everybody’s walking around like Kenny from South Park. As if talking to people before didn’t suck enough already, now you gotta keep asking people to repeat themselves, further extending your already excruciating interaction with them. I even saw a couple in a car wearing masks, which is almost as ridiculous as those guys who walk around with a condom on their limp dicks, ready and waiting. It’s nuts!

Speaking of rubbers, dating really sucks now, or so I hear. We’re becoming Japan, and not in the peaceful, high-tech, futuristic way, but in the sad, dystopian, society-of-40-year-old-virgins kind of way. Everyone avoids eye contact, which I was always taught is Step One in human communication. But now everybody’s walking around avoiding eye contact and talking like they got shit in their mouths, like a bunch of emo kids. We’re all emo now.

The climate sucks, but that’s mostly our doing. The schools suck, the government, the banks, the media, the radio, the police, the wars, social media… They’ve always sucked, sure. But now everything sucks like it’s never sucked before. Even Netflix sucks. Netflix!

I suck now too, apparently, at least according to my wife. I don’t know when I began to suck. I mean, I might’ve suspected I was an asshole, but being an asshole and sucking are not the same thing. There are a lot of rich assholes, after all, and being rich hardly sucks, does it? How can being able to do and buy whatever you want possibly suck?

There are lot of successful assholes in Hollywood and sports, and those assholes are highly respected, some are even beloved. No one would say those assholes suck, unless they go bankrupt, their movie blows, or they singlehandedly lose the big game. Then all we’ll hear about is how much they suck. That is to say, no asshole with money and power sucks, not in today’s culture—they’re just assholes. But let any of those assholes lose their money and power, then they’ll suck big-time.

I’ve never had any money or power, so maybe that’s why I suck.

Things suck between me and my wife at the moment cuz we got into a heated little argument the other night over Kylie Jenner, of all the rich assholes in the world. I’d heard Kylie was trying to get her fans to donate to this GoFundMe for her ex-make-up artist who was in some accident and had to have an operation. He needed 60-something thousand dollars, and she’d donated a measly $5,000, which I thought was a real asshole move on Kylie’s part. I mean, the dude was her make-up artist, and if there are two things that made Kylie Jenner’s career what it is, they’re her family’s money and her appearance. If she’s the Mona Lisa, then her make-up artist is Da Vinci. If she’s Cinderella, then her make-up artist is Fairy Godmother, or at least one of the rats. Anyway, you get the picture. The only person Kylie Jenner owes more is whichever scalpel-wielding licensed lunatic gave her face the Joan Rivers Special.

But apparently my facts suck. I shouldn’t believe whatever I hear or read on Black Instagram, much less form an opinion based on it. So I’m the asshole here—me—not Kylie. I guess the initial GoFundMe goal was $10,000, so Kylie’s five G’s and her sharing the GoFundMe with her fans was actually quite “generous” on her part. Or so I’m told.

Plus my attitude sucks, says my soulmate. I gotta stop hating on the rich and powerful assholes of the world, and trying to tear them down, at least individually. Me ripping on Kylie Jenner, or her half-sister Kim, or Cardi B, or Drake, or A.O.C., or Kamala Harris, only makes me seem like a “hater,” a “sore loser,” or in other words, a “jealous asshole.” And no one sucks more than a jealous asshole, which is why they’re known as “trolls,” and everybody treats them as such.

Jealous assholes can be real dicks. A dick is someone who’s an asshole on purpose. Stupid dicks are the absolute worse. No one wants a stupid dick around. No one invites stupid dicks to the party, unless of course it’s the Republican Party, and even the Republicans are running out of room for stupid dicks. I mean, they gotta be by now.

Now, I don’t hate Kylie and them personally. I don’t think it’s possible to hate someone who you’re not even acquaintances with, no matter how hard you try. Acquaintances, by the way, are the most fun to hate. Hating an acquaintance is like a hobby, something you do in your spare time, or when you feel like doing it. On the other hand, hating someone you know real well can get tiring and consuming. You can’t get how much you hate them out of your mind for more than 10 seconds. You become obsessed with hating. I don’t know if that makes them toxic, or you.

So, no, like I said, I don’t hate Kylie and them personally, only publicly. I hate their effect on the public, on society. And that’s fair enough, I think. Anybody who wants to be a public figure, or is at least willing to be one, whether in Hollywood, music or politics, has to accept the criticism that comes with the role.

Dolly Parton’s been shitted on more times than Trump in a Moscow motel, and she says, “If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.” I say, if you want to be rich and powerful, you gotta be willing to take shit from the public. If you want to be popular, you gotta risk sucking. But, as you’d expect, most assholes want to be rich and powerful without being publicly scrutinized in even the slightest way. They want to wield this tremendous influence over everybody else, but they don’t want anybody saying anything about that influence. Real regal-type shit.

I’m not rich or powerful and I’m still getting shit from people every goddamn day—though, to be fair, I do try to give at least as much shit as I’m given. I believe in Karma, but I’m not gonna wait around for Karma to exact justice, cuz who knows how long that’ll take? I can’t wait for Karma to do its thing next year. I need Karma to produce results no later than next quarter. So I’ve appointed myself an agent of Karma. Sort of like those “Take a Penny, Leave a Penny” trays, only mine reads: Take Shit, Give Shit. I’m sure the people around me don’t like me giving them shit—I can see it on their shit-eating faces—but I don’t give a shit anyhow. Serves them right for giving me so much shit in the first place.

Anyway, these celebrities—because that’s what they are, celebrities, whether in Hollywood or on Capitol Hill—they want to be seen and treated as idols, almost god-like, beyond any and all reproach. And they are in fact treated as idols by their legions of idolaters, these fanboys and groupies worshipping at the feet of golden pigs, who would just die if they ever snatched one of Kylie’s fake lashes or Kamala’s flag pin. They’d put it in a ziplock bag and keep the bag in a shoebox with bubble wrap, or they’d display it proudly on a bookshelf or wherever they keep their souvenirs and trinkets. And whenever someone new came over they’d bring them over to where the thing sat and say, “I snatched this off so-and-so as she was coming out of Saks! We waited for an hour and half, it was chilly as fuck outside, and when I grabbed it her bodyguard or someone clawed my face and scratched up my cheek, but it was all worth it! It was like touching the Pope! Better even!” They’d always be trying to invite new people over for the express purpose of telling them the story about their brush with the divine.

I myself am not like that, never have been. I don’t have any idols, no heroes. Maybe Orwell, or Stevie Wonder, but that’s as close as it gets. I’ve been around a few famous people, arm’s length, but I never geeked out. I know people are just people, even the famous or papal people, too. Everybody shits, and occasionally when we wipe up afterward we get a little smudge of fudge on our hands. Shit happens. We’re all human.

Just to show you how unimpressed I am with anyone, lemme tell you about the time I bumped into Terrence Howard one night at LaGuardia. We were both headed back home to Chicago. He had on athleisure wear and looked like a regular-shmegular dude, which he is, of course. He was with a buddy of his, but then this chubby white girl came up to him and started fawning over him—what’s known on Black Instagram as “throwin’ him tha pussy.” The fucker took the bait, too, which surprised me. This was years before he became Lucious Lyon, but a year or two after Hustle & Flow, so if he wasn’t already the Terrence Howard, he was certainly well on his way.

This girl, if I’m being generous, was a Six—at most. Even the Asian girl I was with at the time was a number or two above this soggy piece of Wonder bread Terry was nibbling at. (When my girlfriend got his autograph, Terrence Howard wrote, “Stay cool, even when it’s hot“—just the kind of line you’d expect a rich famous asshole to use. Even my girlfriend thought it was douchy… and she was with me!)

Long story short, when my girlfriend and I got on the plane, I saw Terrence Howard sitting up in first class next to White Girl, his boy nowhere to be seen. But as we made our way back through steerage where we belonged, I spotted his boy sitting in a middle seat just off a wing. He was peering over the seats, trying to see how Terry and the girl were getting on. He was smiling, but it was a weak smile, the kind that let’s you know he’s just trying to be a good sport. We locked eyes and I could tell he was upset and embarrassed. I felt sorry for the guy, and I hated Terry for doing his boy like that, especially for a Six—again, I’m being supremely generous here.

I can say I hated Terrence Howard then because we had shared a few words out in the terminal—I think I told him I liked Hustle & Flow, which I still do—which made us acquaintances for all intents and purposes of liking or hating him personally. If you’re flying home with your boy, you don’t make him switch seats with a Six, especially if you’re flying first class. The lady’s gotta be a Nine at least. Cuz if you’re flying first class, or even business class, then you’re getting plenty of shots with Sixes and Sevens. You get to be choosy, not like the rest of us suckers, who have to bite at any old thing on a hook. It’s a numbers game for us.

Then again, maybe Terrence and Dude weren’t boys like that, and if so, then I feel bad for Terrence Howard for being rich and famous and not having any real friends at the time. Plus I’d like to offer him my sincerest apologies for peppering the three-hour flight with my shouting “Terrence Howard sucks!” I pray he didn’t hear me, as I was sitting back by the tail, taking in all the sour liquid-shit-smell from the bathroom.

Maybe he did hear me though, and just brushed me off as another hater, a sore loser trolling him from the cheap seats. But, as I hope you can appreciate, I wasn’t shouting “Terrence Howard sucks!” cuz I’m some jealous asshole. And while I don’t think I’m a loser, if I am, I’m not sore about it, or I don’t blame anyone for it at least. I was heckling Terrence Howard on that redeye to Chicago because he was being an asshole, straight up, and not just the rich and powerful kind either, but the kind that really sucks.

We don’t owe anything to the rich and powerful—and fame is power, too, by the way. They don’t need our protection. They don’t need to be defended. If anything they need to be offended at all times. If they’re not giving their money to the poor and needy, if they’re not telling their worshippers to stop worshipping them or anybody, to stop buying into celebrity culture, if they’re not using all that power they covet so much to get people to stop chasing money and fame, if they’re not raising the culture but sinking it, then they need to be brought down a peg or three.

That’s one reason taxes exist—knocking the rich down a few pegs, to even things out a bit. But since we worship rich assholes, we don’t like taxing them or inconveniencing them in anyway besides an autograph. An autograph. Imagine idolizing someone so much that you’d kill for something with their signature on it, even just a scrap of paper, or your tits. Proof that you came so close to someone so special. Like it was the Shroud of Turin, only real. I’ve never wanted anyone’s autograph. I never saw the point. And if ever someone asked my autograph, I’d feel utterly ridiculous, embarrassed, for them as well as myself. People are people, and I’d sooner ask the clerk at Albertsons for her autograph than Barack Obama.

But getting back to rich people, we even say they’ve “earned” their money, and that they “deserve” to do whatever they want with “their” money. It’s theirs; it belongs to them. We believe in property way more than we believe in people, which is why we worship rich assholes—they got a lot of property, or they can at least get some. Never mind what those all sweaty migrants bent over in a field have earned, or what the slaves working in an Amazon warehouse deserve. If you’re poor in this country, if you have nothing, then you’ve earned that, too.

So without taxes, we need some other way to bring the rich and powerful down to our level. And we do that by ripping them. It’s the least we can do. See, I’m not only an egalitarian, but militant too!

Kylie and them flaunt their money and fame in everyone’s face and literally taunt us to “keep up” with them. I’m no Christian, but that’s some Satanic shit right there. What did Lucifer whisper in J.C.’s ear out in the desert? “I’ll give you all the money and power in the world, and all you gotta do is kneel at my feet.” How many of us are kneeling? How many are willing to stoop that low?

For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.” Read your Bibles, gang! It’s mostly bullshit, but there’s some real gems buried in that turd.

As an agent of Karma, I not only reserve the right to tear down the rich and powerful, I exercise that right every chance I get. And not because I suck, but because they suck. They’re too rich and too powerful for anyone’s good, and they use their money and power to pull down society. I know it ain’t cool to say that Kylie and Kim and Cardi and Aubrey and A.O.C. and Kamala suck. Saying they suck makes me “not with it,” “lame,” a “hater,” or whatever. But that’s only because the culture sucks, this culture that worships fame and money, and says that anyone with fame and money can really do no wrong.

People like to blame the system, and only some of the people at the top of it, like bankers and politicians. But lest we forget, celebrities are at the top, too. You think society takes its cues from your everyday bankers and politicians? No, it’s celebrities that shape the culture more than anybody, and that includes celebrity politicians. This culture is rotten as fuck, so we have to interrogate everything and everybody it places on a pedestal for worship. You should suspect anybody who’s rich and famous. It’s the sane thing to do.

At least I think so. But then again, I’m just some asshole.

Hector is the founder and editor of MANO magazine as well as the host of the LATINISH podcast. A Chicagoan living in Las Vegas, he's a former deputy editor of Latino Rebels as well as a former managing editor of Gozamos, an art-activism site based in his home town. He was a columnist at RedEye, a Tribune-owned daily geared toward millennials. His work has been mentioned by The New Yorker, Good Morning America, TIME and other outlets, and his writing was featured in Ricanstruction, a comic book anthology whose proceeds went toward recovery efforts in Puerto Rico. He studied history at the University of Illinois-Chicago where his concentration was on ethnic relations in the United States.

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