In my professional opinion, there aren’t enough movies made about assholes. I know technically all villains are assholes, and there can be heroes who are anti-heroic / pro-hole and all that, but how often do we see films where the main character is simply an unlikable douche-bag?
We know so little about assholes. Does an asshole know he’s an asshole? Does he end life with regrets? What about the people he touches? Do they simply accept his assholeyness? Are they quiet victims, or passive enablers?
Questions like these are difficult to answer because you have to ask an asshole, and those jerks won’t tell you anything. I was left with no other choice than to make up my own asshole and see what he does in a movie. That asshole’s name is Benjamin Button.
Right off the bat, Benjamin Button kills his mother, Beatrice Button, so you know he’s a pretty big asshole. His pissed-off father, Burton Button, decides he doesn’t want to be a daddy no mo’ and relieves his heavy baby Button burden first chance he gets, proving that assholeism is genetic. Notice, however, the difference between a villain and an asshole. Burton does not kill Benjamin as a villain would. He drops him off at an old folks home where he knows he will be passed around and fawned over until he’s old enough to find his own food. This difference is subtle but important. Assholes do not destroy the world; they double-dip their chips and fart at funerals.
Because everyone in Benjamin’s early life dies of old age soon after meeting him, Benjamin has a very curious take on human relationships: he thinks people exist only to serve him then die. When he meets a young girl, Daisy, he knows she must be special because she can go two weeks without dying or feeding him. She wants to be his girlfriend but he’s too preoccupied with old people. The timing just doesn’t work out.
This goes on until Benjamin is twenty-nine years old. His fake mother is finally having a real baby and can no longer suffer a fake son loafing around the house looking sad and lost. Immediately he finds work on a shrimping boat, though at first he doesn’t understand the value of money. The captain of the boat is a salty bastard named Lt. Dan, and he introduces Benjamin to whoring, which gives him a profound incentive to work his ass off. He develops a $200 a day addiction, and his eagerness puts more than a couple girls in the E.R.
One day WWII happens and Lt. Dan’s shrimping boat is drafted in the war effort. Lt. Dan offers all his men a chance to get out before entering the war, but Benjamin misses this opportunity because he was too busy banging some dude’s wife.
The shrimp boat only gets into one skirmish, but Benjamin makes the most of it. While everyone gets shot to shit, he just sits quietly on the broad side of the vessel waiting it out. Cleared from danger, he looks for people who might still be alive and finds Lt. Dan bleeding out on the top deck. “Button” he cries. “Get some bandages to stop this bleeding!”
Button just looks sad. “Don’t be scared about death, Lt. Dan.”
“I just need some bandages, Button!”
Benjamin tells him “Shhh…” and closes Lt. Dan’s eyes with his hand.
“Motherfucker don’t do that! I’m not fucking dead you asshole!” Two hours later he bleeds to death. Benjamin closes Lt. Dan’s eyes with his hand and drops ONE tear out of whichever eyeball is closest to the camera.
Benjamin gets word that his fake mother’s real daughter died, so he can have his old room back at the old folk’s home. He goes back and parasitically lives off them for awhile. On the way he visits Daisy, who is now a Ballerina. He tries to hook up with her but she’s too preoccupied with dancing. The timing just doesn’t work out.
Back at home, Benjamin finds out that his real dad was rich and now he is too. This doesn’t change his outlook much. He continues to live at the nursery home, even after his mother dies of boredom. This goes on for ten years.
Then one day Daisy gets hit by a car. I thought that since I was making movie about an asshole, I could go meta and be a bit of an asshole myself to the audience. The result is a twenty minutes segment devoted to all the crazy coincidences lining up to ensure Daisy’s accident. Anyone with an ounce of brain knows immediately the small point I’m trying to make and where it’s headed, but they have to sit through the twenty minutes anyway. Ha! It’s kind of fun to torture people with philosophy! You’re all just lucky I decided against doing this fucking hummingbird idea I had. Whew!
Anyway, now that Daisy’s a cripple and Benjamin’s bored, it finally becomes the right time for them to hook up. Things go well at first. They get a small place together and watch TV and it’s all pretty cute. But then she gets pregnant and Benjamin is all like “Uh…you don’t really want me around for this cause I’m really immature and you shouldn’t have to raise two children, heh…I think it’s better for you this way…l8r!”
Rather than help the love of his life raise the fruit of their union, Benjamin backpacks across Europe and Asia and basically lives the life every college graduate dreams of. Meanwhile, Daisy has to marry some banker just to keep food on the table. Ten years in, Benjamin shows up looking all tan and muscular just to nail her once and run away again.
Years later, Daisy is an old woman. Her daughter is grown, her banker husband is dead (some say poison). She gets a call from the old folks home. Benjamin is back. He can’t remember anything, and he shits himself. Would she please come take care of him? The answer, of course, is Idon’twanttobut yes.
Taking care of elderly Benjamin is difficult. When he’s not throwing violent tantrums, he’s making fun of her wrinkles and calling her a cripple. After a while, the stress of it gets to Daisy and she dies.
Benjamin sits in a chair. He sits there for five years. One day he realizes he’s actually younger than the day before. This is against the natural order, so God sends Hurricane Katrina to kill Benjamin. She tries. She really, really tries. But in the end, she ends up taking care of him too, until he’s young enough to leave her. He steals her purse on the way out the back door, and thinks about growing his hair into dreadlocks.