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Generation Jerk: In defense of TheDirty.com 

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 day 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. Locally, he seemingly has an ongoing beef with Bar Charlotte and supporters of the 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 ... 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 a "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).

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