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Budd: Larry, there ain’t nobody out there!

Larry Gomez: “There ain’t nobody out there ... Larry.” What’s your point? That you’re not needed here?

Budd: My point is, I’m the bouncer ... and there ain’t nobody out there to bounce!

This passage, of course, is from Kill Bill: Vol. 2. It occurs toward the beginning of the movie as Budd, who was once a world-renowned assassin and now works as a bouncer in a seedy and barren strip club, is attempting to explain to Larry (his boss) why he’s habitually late for work.

In turn, Larry, um, questions the logic of what Budd is saying:

Larry Gomez: You’re saying that the reason ... that you’re not doing the job that I’m ... paying you to do is ... that you don’t have a job to do? Is that what you’re saying? What are you trying to convince me of, exactly?

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The back-and-forth starts at the 1:15 mark:

I’m reminded of this scene when reading and thinking and talking about some of the reactions to the Babe.net story on Aziz Ansari, which has become such a cultural touchstone that I’m not even sure if “viral” is still an accurate description of its reach. Specifically, the pushback centered on the idea that men in general are unable to read body language and exist incapable of hearing and deciphering any gestures or words other than those expressed with a bullhorn.

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This strain of pushback mirrors one of the most annoying and persistent criticisms of the #MeToo movement, where some men (and women) claim that this will ultimately result in a nation of men paralyzed with fear, not knowing whether saying “Hi” constitutes assault and utterly unsure if having a lunch conversation with a co-worker who happens to be a woman now means that their names will be hashtagged before they’ve even finished their junior bacon cheeseburgers.

This, of course, is fucking dumb—and as Danielle Butler articulated last week, at least as hysterical as the mythical #MeToo “hysterics” they’re attempting to decry. But it’s also a fucking lie. No man is that fucking stupid to believe that the only safe way to interact with women now is to not interact with women now. Or that, since it’s impossible to gauge interest (or lack thereof) in sexual activity through body language, the only way to fuck now is with flashcards.

And I can confidently say that none of the men making these internet arguments are that fucking stupid. Because if they were, they wouldn’t know how to use the internet. Because they’d be too dumb to know the difference between a laptop and a watermelon.

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So what’s happening here is men (and, again, some women) desperately and vehemently attempting to convince the entire world that we (men) are pervasively dumb—that our stupidity is static and our brains are filled with sugar-free funnel cakes.

To be fair, this isn’t exactly new. I’m not quite sure if the popular sitcom trope of the meathead man and his patient and smarter (and much younger) wife existed first or if that was already such a prevalent thought that the trope just reflected it. Either way, both predate what’s happening today. But it has never really made much sense, especially since those who subscribe to this belief also seem to be the same people advocating for men to be the indubitable heads of households. We can’t be dumb as rocks and the most effective Dear Leaders. That’s just not how that works (unless, of course, your name happens to be Trump).

What I think is happening is that if you do a good-enough job convincing others that you’re stupid, people’s expectations of you will lower. You’ll be asked to do fewer things, and demands of your behavior will be scaled back. It’s like the teen who mows the lawn terribly with the hope that he’s so bad at it that his parents never ask him to do it again. They try to tell us that our behavior needs to change, and we pull back and say, “DUH, BUT I CAN’T READ BODY LANGUAGE, ONLY MAXIM MAGAZINE,” and hope that they give up on us and continue the status quo.

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In Kill Bill: Vol. 2, Budd eventually meets his demise when he underestimates the intelligence and ruthlessness of Elle Driver, who hid a black mamba in a briefcase full of cash and watched as it bit, poisoned and eventually killed him. His death doesn’t really have any connection to Aziz Ansari, #MeToo or the eternal efforts to convince everyone that we (men) are imbeciles. I’m just bringing it up because I thought it was a really dumb way to die.