Assholes: A Theory

“There’s a teeming asshole ecosystem and, in it, there are many different species.”
– Professor Aaron James, author of the New York Times bestseller
that inspired this film

Some people grapple with the moral challenges of treating human beings decently. Others are just assholes.

This entertaining film explores the venomous social media, resurgent authoritarianism and rampant narcissism threatening to trash civilisation as we know it. The time has come for Assholes: A Theory.

The frustration of dealing with assholes affects us all, so how can we understand this particular type of problematic behaviour? More importantly, what can be done to push back against the rising tide of assholery?

“You can’t be an asshole until you’re old enough to know better.”
– Geoffrey Nunberg

“A newborn boy in the US, Italy or Israel is much more likely to live the life of an asshole than a newborn boy in Japan, Norway or Canada,” wrote James. His book investigated the breeding grounds of contemporary asshole culture and located signs of civility in an otherwise rude’n’nasty universe.

Venturing into a predominantly male domain, filmmaker John Walker moves from Ivy League frat clubs to the bratty princedoms of Silicon Valley and the bear pits of international finance. Why do assholes thrive in certain environments? What explains their perverse appeal? And how do they keep getting elected!

“I guess in a way my mother was an asshole.”
– John Cleese

In this intellectually provocative and existentially necessary film, John Walker explores Professor James’ theories and recommendations using clips from Hollywood and news archives, combined with vox pops and ruminations with key observers of asshole-dom, including actor John Cleese and Italian LGBTQ+ activist Vladimir Luxuria.

The film screened at Doc Edge Festival 2019.

Previous festival appearances for Assholes: A Theory include
CPH:DOX, Denmark
HotDocs, Canada

Director John Walker gave a masterclass on The Cinematographer as Filmmaker at the Doc Edge Forum in Wellington on 14 June.

He presented Assholes: A Theory and took part in Q&A sessions at the following screenings:

Auckland | Rangatira, Q Theatre | 30 May | 7:00 PM
Auckland | Loft, Q Theatre | 31 May | 2:45 PM
Wellington | The Roxy 1 | 13 June | 7:00 PM

Session Time

Auckland | Rangatira, Q Theatre
Thu 30 May
07:00 PM
Auckland | Loft, Q Theatre
Fri 31 May
02:45 PM
Wellington | The Roxy 1
Thu 13 Jun
07:00 PM
Wellington | The Roxy 2
Fri 14 Jun
02:30 PM
Wellington | The Roxy 2
Tue 18 Jun
12:30 PM
81 min
English, Italian
John Walker