I think the reason people glorify assholes in pop culture and the media is that secretly (or not so secretly) a lot of people want to be assholes. Same with 'the bad guy'. Everyone fantasizes about being the one who can beat the system, get the girl, and the cash, and ride out into the beautifl sunset.
Or people fear they will always be victims and figure it's better if "you can't beat 'em (jerks), join 'em". Or else they are so honestly puzzled by assholes and find them fascinating, both IRL or better from the comfort of the couch.
I also think people wish there were redeeming qualities about assholes. Like rewriting your bullies from childhood traumas into 'fleshed out complex human characters' and basically making them likeable and not as scaryin some way. Anything so you can wrap your mind around it and feel comforted.
Some of this is understandable, some of it is just BS IMHO. Asshole glorification just ends up propping up real life bad behavior in individuals and more over entire systems of...um...undesirability?
Jerks in pop culture tend to follow very similar archetypes meaning stereotypes, like womanizing misogynists who are actually sensitive loving men with trust issues ( ), ball busting bitches who are too strong to be loved by men and just want to be held like a woman (), hateful racists who love their children and their dogs () Brilliant priveleged white men who just can't understand people beneath them () etc. etc. etc.
I hate assholes. I hate caricatures. I hate people who revel in their privelege. And I hate bad writing.
I especially hate that society in general can't step up and just call people on bad behavior and always have to make excuses, find 'good points'. It's like we somehow became a nation of enablers and cowards.
So....no, I'm probably not one for identifying with "complicated jerks" in popular media. Do I like the benign bad guys? Or the bad guys with cool character design and costumes? Sure. I like Bizarro Superman and that cheetah girl (rooowr -- Wonder Woman's nemsis in Justice League). I generally automatically dislike any bad guy that you are supposed to like, unless they are really campy (like
In fact, the reason I continue to watch Nip/Tuck is just to watch horrible things happen to the two main characters. And I don't even care enough to follow it regularly. I got sick of their antics midway season 2. They are both self-indulgent, self-abosrbed, pompous, hypocritical assholes who hurt everyone around them, feel sorry for themselves, and mess up people's lives and then feel more sorry for themselves. Especially Troy. How can you not love to hate a walking veneral disease of a misogynist?
I think there is a lot going on when it comes to why people like villains that goes beyond just sympathizing with characters. I generally have not seen nor do I see myself in any characters in TV or movies, I think partly this is due to the fact I'm not really a visible part of pop culture in general.
People also glorify serial killers IRL as well, I think the reasons why people do that and why people like 'bad guys' in entertainment overlap, probably in complicated ways that make people look not so flattering way.
When I do like 'bad guys' they generally really are the bad guys and not meant to be sympathetic at all. I basically hate the stereotyped, smarmy heros and want them to meet a tragic completely un-Hollywood ending but this will not happen. Which makes me hate them even more. I'm rooting against stereotypes, against all the institutions and people invested in the status quo and Hollywood, and rooting for the underdog.