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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Defending TheDirty.com

Posted By on Thu, Sep 17, 2009 at 1:34 PM

click to enlarge nik_cigar 2

A lot of people hate Nik Richie.

Of course, some of you may be wondering, “Who the hell is Nik Richie?” — especially if you’re not a person who surfs the Internet on a regular basis.

Well, for the Nik-ignorant folks out there, Richie (whose real name is Hooman Karamian) is the creator/founder/ringleader of an ultra-popular Web site known as TheDirty.com.

OK, that said, now you’re probably wondering, “What’s TheDirty?”

If you visit the site — which started in Arizona but quickly grew to reportedly garner more than 3 million pageviews per month and host localized versions in dozens of cities across the country, including one here in Charlotte — and scroll all the way to the bottom of the screen you’ll see this description: “TheDirty.com, The world's first ever reality blogger™ is all about gossip and satire. The content that is published contains rumors, speculation, assumptions, opinions, and factual information.”

From my perspective, however, TheDirty is an Internet destination dedicated to posting user-submitted photos of real people (usually women) so that Richie — and his loyal audience (aka The Dirty Army) — can ruthlessly criticize the people in the images.

A Dirty Army “soldier,” for example, recently posted a picture of a local woman along with the headline “Mouth to Mouth” and asked Richie the frequently opined question, “Would you?” (as in have sex) with her. In response, Richie wrote: “no. Her head is wierd [sic], and she looks like a bug.”

Another Dirty Army member submitted a “Would you?” request along with a photo and the caption: “I’m so glad somebody put this whore on this site because she totally deserves it! Shes [sic] a golddigging, stuck on herself b*tch. She thinks she is some kind of model when in reality she looks like a man. Nik would you?” To which, Richie responded, “No, her legs look like sausages and her face is even worse.”

And here’s one more: A woman apparently submitted a photo herself and asked, in reference to the prospect of getting breast implants, “how big should i [sic] go?” Richie fired back: “I think you should get a head transplant and lose about 45 lbs first.”

And that sort of brings me back to the first sentence of this article — the one about a lot of people hating Richie; surveying his assessments of the photos on TheDirty, you can probably see why some people think he’s an asshole, a jerk, a douchebag or whatever adjective you want to sling his way.

Media outlets like the Arizona-based AZCentral.com have written that Richie “has jeopardized careers” and “humiliated people.” And, obviously, if you’re the butt of the man’s trash talk, you may not be too enamored with him. He seemingly has an ongoing feud with Bar Charlotte and supporters of the local watering hole frequently go after Richie on the site. In fact, once it became common knowledge that Richie was coming to Charlotte on Sept. 17 for an appearance at Cans, some detractors dared him to trek on over to Bar Charlotte, writing: “I really do wish you would show up, and you’ll see that none of us ‘BAR GIRLS’ that you’ve featured would ever want to touch a pathetic, arrogant piece of sh*t like you … Nik, you’re a pure example of someones [sic] life who is miserable that you have nothing better to do than talk sh*t. I’m sure when it comes down to it, those girls that “go to your hotel room” are the trashy bitches you run your mouth about every day. Get your head out of you’re [sic] ass, seriously.”

You see what I mean? Some folks hate his ass.

Me? I think he’s funny as shit.

Offensive? Yes. But so are dozens of straight-up comedians out there. Sure, Richie’s no Richard Pryor, but when he calls the fat deposits under people’s arms “fat vaj armpits,” I just can’t help but laugh. Now, if you don’t like crass humor, the site and the man behind it are definitely not for you.So, as far as I’m concerned, the guy is pretty entertaining and harmless on his own. The problem, however, is that Richie is not on his own. He’s not a “lone ranger” … or “lone gunman,” if you will. The problem is that, in this day and age, everybody seems to be an asshole.

According to Merriam-Webster, an “asshole” is “a stupid, incompetent, or detestable person”; and a “jerk” is “an annoyingly stupid or foolish person” or “an unlikable person … one who is cruel, rude, or small-minded.” Using those definitions as a guide, it’s easy to spot the deluge of jerks who seem to be invading contemporary American culture.

Now, if you wanted to turn your gaze to the distant past toward days gone waaayyy by, you can see some early incarnations of today’s asshole. William Shakespeare’s work, for example, was peppered with them — just look at plays like The Merchant of Venice (Shylock, anyone?) and Othello (featuring punk-ass Iago).

Moving forward to the 20th century, comedian Andy Kaufman played the role of 1970’s ultimate asshole by wrestling women, taking to the airwaves on a regular basis to claim that no female could best him in the ring — enraging people everywhere in the process. On top of that — unbeknownst to most everyone at the time — he was also known to go out in public disguised as the fake stand-up comedian Tony Clifton, a character who made a reputation for insulting audience members and leaving the stage before his act was finished.

Fast-forward to the 1980s and you see assholes like talk show host Morton Downey Jr. (see the video below), the rise of shock jocks like Howard Stern … and basically all the characters in the acclaimed film Glengarry Glenn Ross.

In the early part of this century, we saw the rise of one of pop culture’s ultimate assholes — American Idol’s Simon Cowell.

But here in the present, we’re witnessing an asshole explosion. We’ve got Kanye West stealing Taylor Swift’s thunder at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards; health care opponents loudly disrupting town hall meetings across the country; Serena Williams threatening a line judge at a tennis match; Glenn Beck saying president Obama is anti-white; Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina calling Obama a liar during a presidential address; plus the popularity of TV shows like Tool Academy and Is She Really Going Out With Him? … among many other ass-flavored moments.

In the recently published book The Quotable Douchebag (which includes classic lines like this one by Sean Hannity: “I’ll tell you who should be tortured and killed at Guantanamo: every filthy Democrat in the U.S. Congress”), author Margaret McGuire writes: “All Fox News anchors are douchebags” and “John Mayer is a douchebag.”

And of course, that’s just scratching the surface when it comes to assholes of the present and recent past — I could go on and on. The fact is, as writer Alex Wagner wrote in an article published Sept. 15 on the news Web site PoliticsDaily.com, “ … these are jackassy times.”

So, enjoying TheDirty as a pure, unadulterated guilty pleasure in front of a computer in the privacy of your own home is not such a bad thing. But when so many folks have decided to conduct themselves in such uncivil ways, we find ourselves living in the wild West. Does that mean that Richie should close up shop and go back to banking (his first career)? Well, I’d much prefer if Glenn Beck disappeared from basic cable first.

In a recent telephone interview with Creative Loafing, Richie explained the origins of TheDirty like this: “I kind of stumbled upon this. It wasn’t something I was serious about. I was just doing it as a joke between a couple buddies of mine. Then I really thought to myself, ‘You know, maybe I do have a business model.’ Because reality TV is so successful, no one [had] really started ‘reality Internet.’”

He’s even created his own language of sorts to use on the site; his “Dirty Dictionary” is filled with shart-inducing words like “Himstitute” (a tranny prostitute) and “Bissues” (a “bitch” with issues).

And, not surprisingly, Richie doesn’t think of himself as a bad guy.

“I just say what I think. You can take it however you want to take it, but I’m just gonna be true to myself and say what I think,” he says. “People find the humor in it and sometimes I am a little bit sarcastic, but this is what I really think. And I know I have a warped sense of reality, but I think that’s why the site is so successful — people take what I say and take it to heart.

“The majority of the people that look at the site just come to look at the pictures, read the comments, kill time at work and,” he says, “have a laugh.”

The big question is — if the contention about Richie being harmless is to be believed — how do we come to make distinctions between the assholes living among us? For me, it’s all a question of competence.

Think back to Simon Cowell. The guy is a self-styled ass, but he became a star in the eyes of America because he was actually right about the talent on American Idol. No, he didn’t sugarcoat his quips — and sometimes he was mean — but he usually said what most of us were saying at home.

On the other hand, look at a guy like Glenn Beck.; his statements about Obama being anti-white cost him dozens of advertisers because no one bought what he was saying. His pronouncement, to the general public, did not seem based in reality. Same thing with Don Imus — when, years ago, he said his statement about “nappy-headed hoes” — it just wasn’t funny.

Marinate on that idea and consider that, at the end of the day, when Richie rails on photos, most of the time, it is pretty much what we — in maybe the most adolescent corners of our mind — were thinking anyway.

So what’s next for the asshole? I couldn’t say where that special breed of Homo sapien is going next — we’ve already seen a few douches in the White House — but Richie is busy plotting his next move.

“There’s a whole bunch of things we have in the works. We’re looking to create a social network for The Dirty Army. We’re doing these events (ala his appearance at Cans tonight) … our clothing line, we want to get into stores across the United States. The brand itself is going to take off.”

Whatever happens, I’ll be watching. And so, probably, will you. One thing’s for sure: I better not ever see my damn picture on TheDirty! I’m just saying …

And that sort of brings me back to the first sentence of this article — the one about a lot of people hating Richie; surveying his assessments of the photos on TheDirty, you can probably see why some people think he’s an asshole, a jerk, a douchebag or whatever adjective you want to sling his way.

Media outlets like the Arizona-based AZCentral.com have written that Richie “has jeopardized careers” and “humiliated people.” And, obviously, if you’re the butt of the man’s trash talk, you may not be too enamored with him. He seemingly has an ongoing feud with Bar Charlotte and supporters of the local watering hole frequently go after Richie on the site. In fact, once it became common knowledge that Richie was coming to Charlotte on Sept. 17 for an appearance at Cans, some detractors dared him to trek on over to Bar Charlotte, writing: “I really do wish you would show up, and you’ll see that none of us ‘BAR GIRLS’ that you’ve featured would ever want to touch a pathetic, arrogant piece of sh*t like you … Nik, you’re a pure example of someones [sic] life who is miserable that you have nothing better to do than talk sh*t. I’m sure when it comes down to it, those girls that “go to your hotel room” are the trashy bitches you run your mouth about every day. Get your head out of you’re [sic] ass, seriously.”

You see what I mean? Some folks hate his ass.

Me? I think he’s funny as shit.

Offensive? Yes. But so are dozens of straight-up comedians out there. Sure, Richie’s no Richard Pryor, but when he calls the fat deposits under people’s arms “fat vaj armpits,” I just can’t help but laugh. Now, if you don’t like crass humor, the site and the man behind it are definitely not for you.So, as far as I’m concerned, the guy is pretty entertaining and harmless on his own. The problem, however, is that Richie is not on his own. He’s not a “lone ranger” … or “lone gunman,” if you will. The problem is that, in this day and age, everybody seems to be an asshole.

According to Merriam-Webster, an “asshole” is “a stupid, incompetent, or detestable person”; and a “jerk” is “an annoyingly stupid or foolish person” or “an unlikable person … one who is cruel, rude, or small-minded.” Using those definitions as a guide, it’s easy to spot the deluge of jerks who seem to be invading contemporary American culture.

Now, if you wanted to turn your gaze to the distant past toward days gone waaayyy by, you can see some early incarnations of today’s asshole. William Shakespeare’s work, for example, was peppered with them — just look at plays like The Merchant of Venice (Shylock, anyone?) and Othello (featuring punk-ass Iago).

Moving forward to the 20th century, comedian Andy Kaufman played the role of 1970’s ultimate asshole by wrestling women, taking to the airwaves on a regular basis to claim that no female could best him in the ring — enraging people everywhere in the process. On top of that — unbeknownst to most everyone at the time — he was also known to go out in public disguised as the fake stand-up comedian Tony Clifton, a character who made a reputation for insulting audience members and leaving the stage before his act was finished.

Fast-forward to the 1980s and you see assholes like talk show host Morton Downey Jr. (see the video below), the rise of shock jocks like Howard Stern … and basically all the characters in the acclaimed film Glengarry Glenn Ross.

In the early part of this century, we saw the rise of one of pop culture’s ultimate assholes — American Idol’s Simon Cowell.

But here in the present, we’re witnessing an asshole explosion. We’ve got Kanye West stealing Taylor Swift’s thunder at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards; health care opponents loudly disrupting town hall meetings across the country; Serena Williams threatening a line judge at a tennis match; Glenn Beck saying president Obama is anti-white; Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina calling Obama a liar during a presidential address; plus the popularity of TV shows like Tool Academy and Is She Really Going Out With Him? … among many other ass-flavored moments.

In the recently published book The Quotable Douchebag (which includes classic lines like this one by Sean Hannity: “I’ll tell you who should be tortured and killed at Guantanamo: every filthy Democrat in the U.S. Congress”), author Margaret McGuire writes: “All Fox News anchors are douchebags” and “John Mayer is a douchebag.”

And of course, that’s just scratching the surface when it comes to assholes of the present and recent past — I could go on and on. The fact is, as writer Alex Wagner wrote in an article published Sept. 15 on the news Web site PoliticsDaily.com, “ … these are jackassy times.”

So, enjoying TheDirty as a pure, unadulterated guilty pleasure in front of a computer in the privacy of your own home is not such a bad thing. But when so many folks have decided to conduct themselves in such uncivil ways, we find ourselves living in the wild West. Does that mean that Richie should close up shop and go back to banking (his first career)? Well, I’d much prefer if Glenn Beck disappeared from basic cable first.

In a recent telephone interview with Creative Loafing, Richie explained the origins of TheDirty like this: “I kind of stumbled upon this. It wasn’t something I was serious about. I was just doing it as a joke between a couple buddies of mine. Then I really thought to myself, ‘You know, maybe I do have a business model.’ Because reality TV is so successful, no one [had] really started ‘reality Internet.’”

He’s even created his own language of sorts to use on the site; his “Dirty Dictionary” is filled with shart-inducing words like “Himstitute” (a tranny prostitute) and “Bissues” (a “bitch” with issues).

And, not surprisingly, Richie doesn’t think of himself as a bad guy.

“I just say what I think. You can take it however you want to take it, but I’m just gonna be true to myself and say what I think,” he says. “People find the humor in it and sometimes I am a little bit sarcastic, but this is what I really think. And I know I have a warped sense of reality, but I think that’s why the site is so successful — people take what I say and take it to heart.

“The majority of the people that look at the site just come to look at the pictures, read the comments, kill time at work and,” he says, “have a laugh.”

The big question is — if the contention about Richie being harmless is to be believed — how do we come to make distinctions between the assholes living among us? For me, it’s all a question of competence.

Think back to Simon Cowell. The guy is a self-styled ass, but he became a star in the eyes of America because he was actually right about the talent on American Idol. No, he didn’t sugarcoat his quips — and sometimes he was mean — but he usually said what most of us were saying at home.

On the other hand, look at a guy like Glenn Beck.; his statements about Obama being anti-white cost him dozens of advertisers because no one bought what he was saying. His pronouncement, to the general public, did not seem based in reality. Same thing with Don Imus — when, years ago, he said his statement about “nappy-headed hoes” — it just wasn’t funny.

Marinate on that idea and consider that, at the end of the day, when Richie rails on photos, most of the time, it is pretty much what we — in maybe the most adolescent corners of our mind — were thinking anyway.

So what’s next for the asshole? I couldn’t say where that special breed of Homo sapien is going next — we’ve already seen a few douches in the White House — but Richie is busy plotting his next move.

“There’s a whole bunch of things we have in the works. We’re looking to create a social network for The Dirty Army. We’re doing these events (ala his appearance at Cans tonight) … our clothing line, we want to get into stores across the United States. The brand itself is going to take off.”

Whatever happens, I’ll be watching. And so, probably, will you. One thing’s for sure: I better not ever see my damn picture on TheDirty! I’m just saying …

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