Michaeline: What’s BDE?

Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert on a bus for It Happened One Night.

Clark Gable’s characters had it. Do yours? (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

BDE doesn’t always mean “Best Day Ever” – allow this old lady to rant just a little bit. I can’t believe we’ve come to a time and place where the phrase Big Dick Energy is not only allowed in public discourse, but actually celebrated.

But so it is, and here we are, and I have to admit, BDE has its uses.

Justine talked here recently about how alpha males are really not arrogant dickheads. The ones Franz van der Waal studied were also good at building community and consensus. Sometimes that meant pounding a few heads, but it also meant knowing when a thump wasn’t going to make a difference.

Many sources have noted that Big Dick Energy isn’t about having a dick; it’s about having an attitude, and can used to describe people who are rumored to have big dicks (like Pete Davidson and David Bowie), as well as people who have never had a dick, and probably never will, like Rihanna.

What characterizes Big Dick Energy?

1. A lust for life. (LOL, with dicks involved, it seems fitting that lust should come into the picture, as well.) Anthony Bourdain ended his own life, but he also lived it with vigor and enthusiasm.
2. Building up others. No man (or woman) is an island. Pete Davidson (SNL comedian, and Ariana Grande’s fiancé) showed up on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon and didn’t do much to promote his own film, but really talked a lot about fellow guest Robert Pattinson’s 2017 thriller. It was funny, and may have been all a skit (Fallon is also an SNL alumni, and there was a clip from Pattinson’s Good Time), but it was a kind sort of humor, and one that was about praising other people for their accomplishments.
3. No fucks given. Sometimes, we applaud when an artist or person obviously doesn’t give two pennies for public opinion, and continue to do things their own way. Sometimes, it’s annoying. David Bowie and Lorde as well as a lot of other artists built careers on this. Sometimes fans were astounded, sometimes they whined. Even when the behavior edges towards anti-social, the charm that is associated with characteristic #2 helps take the edge off.
4. Confidence that people will follow. Despite characteristic #3, there’s definitely a social aspect to Big Dick Energy. It’s not masturbatory energy – it’s something that desires to bring pleasure to more than one person. A person with BDE isn’t really worried where the next friend or lover is going to come from. If you build it, they will come.

So, a hero with BDE is going to be someone who is enthusiastic about something. He’s going to have a job or hobby that he loves. He’s going to see other people, and recognize them for what they do. He won’t care if some of his choices are unpopular, but because he is generally likeable, he will always have a circle of friends or followers.

And it’s absolutely a cool thing to see a heroine swinging her BDE around, too. Two forces of nature combine with love and passion! Who wouldn’t want to read about that?

4 thoughts on “Michaeline: What’s BDE?

  1. As an even older lady, I had never heard of BDE (either kind) before today. I don’t think I’ve ever written a BDE character, but I might have one in my future!

    • As a buzzword, it’s pretty new; Vox pinpoints the tipping point to when Anthony Bourdain died. https://www.vox.com/culture/2018/6/27/17506898/big-dick-energy-explained

      I read an article with “BDE” in it, and didn’t get the context; neither Best Day Ever nor Big Dick Energy seemed right, so I LINE’d a friend, and while I was waiting for her definition, I googled. And then, I found out that it was a relatively recent thing. I usually discover internet initials and memes MONTHS (YEARS!) after they’ve hit peak popularity. But now that you know about it, I bet you see it popping up all over the place. I think it might be one of the Memes of Summer 2018.

  2. Add me to the list of the unaware :-). I think the romantic interest in the women’s fic WIP I just finished definitely has BDE. But because I’m a cranky old lady, I do wish we could talk about strong and powerful aspects of society without having to mention penises. #sosickofpatriarchy

    • The youngsters are earnestly reassuring us old farts that you don’t need a penis to have BDE. I think “having a heart” captures some of what BDE is talking about: courage, throw your heart into something, compassionate heart. But “heart” doesn’t capture the attention like “dick” does. If you’ll excuse the comparison, it doesn’t grab us by the pussy (and for the sake of argument, let’s say you don’t need an actual vagina to be grabbed by the pussy). Ugh. You are so right! #effthepatriarchy!

      Some people are talking about Big Hole Energy in response, but I haven’t read anything that makes a clear and compelling definition. It’s like how the alphas in Justine’s post can be either male or female, and alpha doesn’t reference genitalia — just position.

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