The 5 Things That Separate Troubled Geniuses from Jerkwads

#2. Be Addicted/Obsessed

Another aspect of the rare Troubled Savant that separates him from the Common Asshole is his affliction with a crippling addiction. This weakness serves to highlight his frailty, thus implying that his brusque demeanor is caused by some tragic psychological damage, rather than by your being fat and in his way.

Well hell, at least there's one step I can get right! I am, if nothing else, a collection of interesting addictions bundled together in man shape.

But wait, if my addiction has to define me, that means I have to narrow it down to just one. I have to choose between painkillers, alcohol, hallucinogens, opioids and public train frottage? That's goddamn unreasonable, is what that is. What am I, fucking Ian MacKaye over here?

Fine. No, that's fine. One addiction. I can do that. But it has to be something fresh, unique and exotic. Junkies and workaholics have been done to death already. So what does that leave me with? Pretty much just the crippling sexual perversions.

That's good, though. I can work with that: I haven't seen any shows about Troubled Savant Exhibitionist Frots, have you? But man, I think it needs even more of a hook than that; it needs an M. Knightian twist to really trick audiences into mistakenly believing I'm doing something clever.

"You should fuck the robot." -- A real thing that M. Knight Shyamalan actually said. Look it up. I'll wait.

Oh God, of course. It was right there all along.

It's robopornography. It's hip, it's modern, it's not safe for work or the propagation of the species. It's perfect.

Listen: I know I'm going back to the robot well a lot, but hey, you ask a plumber to fix a car, he's going to start by looking for leaks. You ask a RoboCop-obsessed Internet comedian to settle on just one defining fetish, he's going to start with teledildonics.

#1. Solve Mysteries


Finally, the most important difference between the rare blossom of a Troubled Savant and your Garden-Variety Asshole: mystery.

It makes sense, doesn't it? The Troubled Savant's only contribution to society has to be solving mysteries; it can be nothing else. The very fact that they are spurned by humanity at large means that they are forced to view it from the outside. You chase a suspect into a crowd and you lose him; you watch that same crowd from atop a nearby building, and you can see his every move. The natural byproducts of being an asshole are isolation and separation, which, as any scientist will tell you, are both absolutely necessary to properly study any phenomenon. The only difference between a Troubled Savant and an Asshole is context. They both deal with the same issue -- it's just that a troubled genius answers the question, while an asshole inspires the question.

For example: "What's that guy's fucking problem?"

In other words, a dickhead might get drunk on Work Wine and piss on Dan's keyboard for spurning all of his friendly, adversarial and sexual advances; a troubled genius would solve the mystery of why nobody's been pissing on Dan's keyboard.

So, long story short: I peed on your keyboard, Dan. This column is the only way I know to apologize for that.


Frienemesexual partners?

You can buy Robert's other book, Everything Is Going to Kill Everybody: The Terrifyingly Real Ways the World Wants You Dead, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

For more from Brockway, check out Science is a Dick: The 5 Most Evil Robots Ever Invented and 6 Insanely Awesome Things The 1900s Thought We'd Have by Now.

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