To be successful a d-bag needs to demonstrate power without having to continually prove it. Sometimes this means establishing a reputation for violence and unpredictability and occasionally finding some pussy-ass sucker at an appropriate moment to show your pals you’re not losing it.
This is the type of d-bag played by Joe Pesci in most of Martin Scorsese’s movies. D-bags want to recognize this type as the paradigm of d-baggery, because this person is legitimately scary (and unquestionably a d-bag). If, however, we analyze the population of d-bags, a different picture emerges from the data. The evidence suggests that many d-bags are not completely liberated from their fear of reprisal, though this is in the mind of a d-bag a sign that one is a pussy. What’s the point of being a d-bag if have to care what other people think? But unfortunately for d-bags society at large still seeks to marginalize or neutralize these individuals, either through social ostracization, imprisonment or death. It is evident then that the “Tommy Devito” d-bag is a myth rather than commonly occuring type.
Why does the space between the myth of violence and the reality of fear of reprisal not cause cognitive dissonance that might adversely affect a d-bag’s self-image? In the first place, the Tommy Devito myth allows a d-bag to imagine (pretend?) that if they were in a similar situation they too could command the ruthless violence and cool disdain for others characteristic of a “gangsta” even though this is far from the truth. In the second place, this myth is a piece of cultural work that allows d-bags to shape perceptions of themselves without having to offer proof. All the proof they need is in the movies and on TV. Wear the right clothes (bling), use the right terminology, smoke the right cigars, and you have acquired sufficient proof of belonging to the club of d-bags whose violence hangs like acrid smoke over the rest of human society.
D-bags are so often used to getting what they want without having to prove they are violent (because it has been proven in a thousand cultural productions) that they sometimes forget themselves and make a revealing blunder, which can lead to ostracization. For example, Mike Huckabee’s recent joke about Barak Obama being assassinated. Ditto Hillary Clinton. Sadly, the lesson a d-bag might take away from these blunders — don’t make threats or promises you can’t keep — runs counter to the very core philosophy of d-baggery. If “I deserve it”, I shouldn’t have to work for it. And backing up thinly veiled threats of violence with real strength requires work.