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I clicked through on the Rolling Stone interview of Leonardo DiCaprio for a bit of a hate-read (I both rationally and irrationally dislike DiCaprio), and came across this gem:

. . .And while he does not have a definite follow-up project in mind (though he has optioned an upcoming book about the Volkswagen emissions scandal), he says he “would love to do something even darker [than The Revenant]. I don’t know, like how would you penetrate the mind of somebody like Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver? There’s a word in German ... schadenfreude. It means humiliation for somebody else, and it can be done in movies, like when Bickle takes [Cybill Shepherd] to the porno theater for his first date. You’re like, ‘Oh, God, please don’t do this!’”

Dude. That’s not schadenfreude. That’s fremdschämen. Also, you don’t need to search through German for a compound word that means “embarrassment on behalf of someone else”. English has at least two such terms: “secondhand embarassment” or “vicarious embarrassment”. (These are basically compound nouns just as fremdschämen and schadenfreude are in German; the English language just doesn’t necessarily lose the space or hyphenate when making a compound noun.)


I’m slightly viciously amused at seeing this . . . display of ignorance while attempting to sound smart. I’ve just spent a bit too much time around that kind of guy who’s so convinced he’s deeper and more intelligent than the people around him. (Haven’t we all.) It’s one of the reasons I dislike DiCaprio . . . I don’t know the man personally, but what I see of him reminds me of Those Guys. (I’ve watched one of Those Guys get praised for a point in a paper that he plagiarized from me, after he had made it clear in discussion that he Just Didn’t Get It. That Guy also misused a term in said paper.) So, despite the fact that I hate cringe humor and won’t watch a lot of “comedy” related to people making fools of themselves because I do experience secondhand embarrassment quite strongly and dislike it, I’m smirking at a successful actor sounding like a fool. It’s not quite schadenfreude (it’s hard to call a rich, successful actor sounding a bit of a fool in interview misfortune), but I’ve hit the day’s limit for smug.

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