Bad Boys Win: Blame the Bad-ass or Blame Ourselves? [Op-Ed]

There’s a sex appeal to bad boys who rip the world like tissue paper. It’s the sex appeal of James Dean in “Rebel Without A Cause.” Shy teens and adults who are mad about their unfulfilled childhood dreams both look to bad boys with jealousy and admiration.

Humans fantasize about being antisocial and successful. We want to be Tony Soprano and grab a troublemaker by the testicles as a polite form of persuasion. We want to be Niko Bellic in “Grand Theft Auto” … bad-assing and shit-scaring our way to riches as a sympathetic antihero.

Nothing exposes these gut human feelings better than the blowup of TheCHAIZYchannel on YouTube. As of this writing, TheCHAIZYchannel has clocked the top 24-hour-subscriber gain with 67,542. Their viral video, “Gallon Smash Prank! (ORIGINAL),” is a love fest of irresponsible youthful bad-assery. In it, three high-school-aged filmmakers fake dramatic falls inside of grocery stores in which they smash plastic beverage gallons. They dramatically slip and slide in the mess to the concern of good-Samaritan onlookers.

TheCHAIZYchannel says in the video details that they paid for the gallons prior to smashing them. They don’t say whether they helped clean up each mess. They don’t say whether they got permission to film on private property. They don’t say whether they got permission to use the very expensive backdrop of grocery store businesses to profit on YouTube. They don’t say whether they got signed performance releases from each unwitting background actor (a standard Hollywood practice). They don’t say whether they apologized for exploiting good intentions. They don’t say whether they got insurance for their stunts in case they injured bystanders. Did they think about these details? Probably not. These are bad boys basking in the human worship of bad-assery.

Let me pretend that we live in a world where this type of behavior should be discouraged. Do we blame the bad-ass, or do we blame the masses who embrace him in quiet jealousy, envy and sometimes-horniness? Can we condemn this behavior while we love this fantasy?

TheCHAIZYchannel has other videos where they peddle their specialty — public pranks. In one, a teenager tries to buy a Steinway Piano wearing a hoodie and carrying an illicit-looking beverage in a brown paper bag. Do we need this type of limit-pushing to keep power and privilege in-check? Is it morally right for the piano store to be prejudiced against someone who does not look like they’re about to put a $30 thousand piano on their Mastercard? (I have a feeling that Omar, Faysal and Zayd, the trio behind TheCHAIZYchannel, might have no problem completing that purchase soon).

Are the TheCHAIZYchannel soon-to-be-rich antiheroes? Do they righteously poke and prod at a civilization too high on rules, assumptions and complacency? Do they teach us that power needs to take itself less seriously? Or are they plain-old-fashioned asshole douche-bags? Are they cocky, insensitive criminals — begging for permanent slap-marks by a “who’s your daddy?” law-and-order?

I can’t decide. Can you?