>Our Own Worlds<

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Cult of (Crappy) Personality: Bad People as Characters

2 min read

by Sarah Buhrman

As a society, we are fascinated by crappy people. We love them; that’s why we have such a huge viewership for reality shows. After all, how many reality shows succeed on the backs on decent but interesting people?

A zoo owner spirals out of control amid a cast of eccentric characters in this true murder-for-hire story from the underworld of big cat breeding.

Netflix Tiger King description

This extends into our fictional shows as well. The Boys is about the hubris and corruption of superheros and their sponsors. It works as a kind of dystopian satire of celebrities and the things we let them get away with.

We even love crappy behavior in our protagonists (aka, antiheroes). As a society, we made Dexter and Breaking Bad household names. And lets not even get into the questionable nature of every decision made in Game of Thrones.

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and Happy! both have main characters we root for but would never be friends with. These are violent, morally gray, train-wreck personalities, and we consume their media with a fervor.


Psychologically, we are likely indulging our shadow, per Jung. Those dark impulses are things we all have and suppress for the good of being social creatures.

We also seek to understand how and why people who do behave this way do it. Why do governments arrest grandpas for feeding the homeless? How could a successful businessman embezzle millions on top of a salary of millions? Why do criminals crime? Why do cops get away with breaking into the wrong home while off-duty and shoot the resident?

We’re Just Another Brick in the Wall

When things spiral out of control, we look for meaning. For our ancestors, it was gods throwing lightning. For us, it’s the stories of how people can justify crappy behavior. We want to understand them, to prove that we are not capable of that behavior (since we aren’t in those circumstances).

But we also have our vigilante fetishes.

Who wouldn’t want to become a crime lord to solve their financial issues when faced with a deadly disease that is only deadly because of bureaucracy? Who wouldn’t turn to the dark arts to get through high school? How many of us wouldn’t want dragons to flame through all the crap we are forced to deal with just because businesses, governments and society want that in triplicate?

Like the daydreams of yesteryear, crappy person media lets us pretend that people we perceive as baddies get what we believe they deserve. No doubt, they feel the same about us. Though, of course, we are right and they are wrong. After all, they are the crappy ones.

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