The 5 Things That Separate Troubled Geniuses from Jerkwads
Have you guys seen Sherlock? It's a pretty fantastic show, and it brings up some very valid points, such as: Does extreme intelligence always equate to isolation? Are human beings really just a collection of transparent self-serving impulses? And when, exactly, are Sherlock and Watson going to bone already?
But perhaps the most important question that shows like Sherlock, House and Luther
raise is this: What's the difference between being a troubled, misunderstood soul and just being an asshole? The obvious answer is "genius," but I'm kind of dumb and I would like to get away with being a jerk, so I don't want that to be true. Therefore I propose to isolate all of the many variables that distinguish the Troubled Savant from the Fucking Asshole, in order to lazily exploit them for my own ends. Because frankly, I'm sick to death of kicking open hospital doors to yell at the patients inside and finding not applause for my ballsy dedication, but angry family members and impending arrests.
Just ... just touch him, Sherlock. You know you want to. You're so lonely, and he loves you. Just touch his mouth.
Keen Observational SkillsThe most obvious difference between assholes like me and Troubled Savants like House is that the latter are constantly making observations, while I'm constantly making crude snare traps to set around my box of Work Wine. So if I ever want to start ensnaring the sweet pity-lovin' of the Troubled Savant, and not just the unsuspecting co-workers who unwisely approach the company fridge, I need to regear my efforts away from hunting my fellow man like small game and direct them toward deduction instead. After spending several minutes researching the different types of dirt, skin conditions and weather patterns in England -- which, according to
"I'll take a large Irish, with room for coffee," I said, just waiting to T-bone her with the garbage truck of deductive reasoning.She started to reach for one of those Styrofoam Jameson containers they sell at the coffee shop, when I spotted my opening."Wait!" I screamed, "Don't touch that cup!""What?! Jesus, what is it?" she cried, leaping backward in surprise."Don't you dare touch my cup with those hands. I know where they've been," I said, baiting the metaphorical wine snare."Excuse me?""Your eyes. They're discolored. A pinkish hue. Now, you could just be tired from working double shifts to try and make the student loan payments on your useless yet astoundingly expensive liberal studies degree, but we both know that's not really the case, is it? No, this discoloration is due to none other than conjunctivitis, otherwise known as pinkeye. The most common cause of which is the improper washing of hands after using the restroom. That's right: You've got the poop-eyes, my dear. Of course, this comes as little surprise to either of us, seeing as your questionable ancestry and unlovable lips mean that you've no doubt grown up impoverished and starved for affection, and have therefore resorted to turning tricks on the side to supplement your meager service income. A fact which is only confirmed by the whore dirt that has accumulated beneath your fingernails."
"Th ... the what?""The whore dirt. Do at least
That's what that stuff is called. For real. Look it up. I'll wait.
Only Have One Friend
Sherlock, House, Luther -- what do they all have in common? They have only a single friend in the world in which to confide, an intellectually inferior man Friday who serves as a dumb, kindly foil to their cutting ingenuity. But this practice is obviously only applicable to the realm of fiction, because it's nearly impossible to pull off in real life. I mean, how does one acquire a
Have a Nemesis
So now I have a friend programmed to love and understand me unconditionally (and also to exterminate all Dans), but something is still missing. Sherlock, House and Luther all have one friend, true, but that's not the only person in their lives. They also all have one nemesis: Sherlock has his Moriarty, House has his Cuddy and Luther has his Alice Morgan. But which direction do I go? Do I want a compelling and effective pure villain, like Moriarty? I suppose Soren Bowie fits that description, but we were having lunch one time and I think he said something about Plato. That makes him waaay smarter than me. I mean, it could've been "burrito," and we
That's a relative term, of course.
Related: Meet Venom's New Nemesis: Lady Gaga
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.
Oh God, of course. It was right there all along.It's
"You should fuck the robot." -- A real thing that M. Knight Shyamalan actually said. Look it up. I'll wait.
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
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
For example: "What's that guy's fucking problem?"
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.