Bill Paxton & Why We Should Thank Him For Perfecting the Art of the Douchebag As Chet in Weird Science

One of the least revered John Hughes movies from his renaissance period during the 80s is, apart from She’s Having A Baby, Weird Science. Released in 1985, on the heels of The Breakfast Club, it wasn’t yet Anthony Michael Hall’s time (nor would it ever seem to be) to carry a starring role all on his own. And though Kelly Le Brock had her “it girl” moment in the 80s thanks to that iconic catch phrase from the Pantene commercial, “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful,” she wasn’t exactly adding to the star power needed to make Weird Science as lauded as it could have been.

And no, even Bill Paxton at that time was not in the same league as anyone Hughes had plucked to form The Brat Pack–regardless of coming fresh from the role of “Punk Leader” in The Terminator. In something of an about-face, Paxton switched gears from the punk lifestyle to the douchebag one, which was strongly coming into its own during the yuppie glory days of the 80s. As Wyatt Donnelly’s (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) older brother and therefore “the enforcer” in his parents’ absence for the weekend, Chet (Paxton) exerts his authority via the methods of grunting and extortion–with classic pearls of d-bag chastisement thrown in for added effect (e.g. “You’re stewed, buttwad!, “You two donkey dicks couldn’t get laid in a morgue,” “Stay out of this bimbo!,” et cetera).

His obsession with guns, girls (he’s the target reader for Buns & Ammo, really) and making a sport out of torturing Wyatt are key ingredients that comprise the douche in his bag. His shit-eating grin, hauntingly stupid laughter and inability to comprehend anything of a figurative nature are qualities highlighted by Hughes’ careful character cultivation. Though 1985 in general was a primo year for the rise and perfection of the douchebag–Biff in Back to the Future, Jerry Hathaway in Real Genius and even another Hughes creation, Richard “Dick” Vernon, in The Breakfast Club–it was Chet who truly took the art to new and daring depths.

When Lisa (Le Brock) asks the to-the-point question: “Why do you have to be such a wanker?” Chet replies honestly, “Because I get off on it!” And yes, to be sure, there is nothing the douchebag relishes more than, quite simply, being a douchebag. It’s his joie de vivre, his raison d’être–though he couldn’t tell you what either of those things mean. Ultimately turned into a giant pile of shit by Lisa that looks vaguely like a toad, Chet may never get the Douche in Sausage Party makeover treatment for optimal hit you over the head with literalness emphasis, but he does, at least, feel mildly contrite as a turd.

While some might slightly detest Paxton for bringing to life so succinctly the “caricature” of a douchebag–though, more often than not, it’s not even an embellishment (they usually are always this over the top in repulsiveness)–what we should really do is pay respect to him for being able to so harshly hold up the mirror to douchebags of the world for them to see just how grotesque they look, and that, ultimately, blowhard behavior is always karmically punished. Granted, douchebags aren’t likely to be found watching a John Hughes movie to be able to apprehend this very important lesson–that is, unless it’s the new breed, pronged off in Logan Square (Chicago, John Hughes–undastand?) where they’re bound to be found playing Sixteen Candles bingo or some such sacrilege at a bar.

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