Human time is made up of inflection points — those moments when civilization is changed forever by a sudden, seismic shift. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand on a summer’s day in 1914 set the stage for World War I. In 1957, the launch of the first artificial Earth satellite, Sputnik 1, kicked off a space race that would take us to the moon just over a decade later. The events of 9/11 are recalled by those very numerals. Such dates and years feel somehow extra-historical, as if larger, deeper and more profound than the days and months whose passage escapes our notice.
Meanwhile, a bizarre outgrowth of the incel community and its memes is the mainstreaming of a binary first proposed there: the Virgin versus the Chad. One is sexless, unattractive, dull, depressed and withdrawn; the other is alpha, a toned Adonis with a horse cock, desired by women and thoughtlessly enjoying his unearned bliss. According to the incels, they’re the losers and Chads are the winners of a Darwinian heterosexual economy.
But as this concept migrated from its origins, the Virgin and Chad figures have come to represent other dichotomies. There’s everything from America versus China to Mario versus Wario to Family Guy’s Peter Griffin versus Bob Belcher of Bob’s Burgers.
And now, at last, we have the Virgin 2019 versus the Chad 2020:
Indeed, while 2020 hasn’t been a pleasant experience by any score, the way it flexes on previous years with wall-to-wall chaos (the threat of war after a U.S. airstrike killed one of Iran’s top military commanders, the unprecedented destruction of a fifth of Australia’s forest in wildfires, a deadly global pandemic mismanaged by the Trump administration as we hurtle toward a make-or-break election, and, just as I was writing this, a massive volcanic eruption in the Krakatoa islands of Indonesia) is undeniably Chad-like. It makes perfect sense to envision a future — if anyone survives — where 2020 is studied with a sense of awe, and 2019 is delivered into obscurity. As the meme emphasizes, the numbers alone bestow some of this effect: “2020” just sounds more like the age of infamy than “2019,” never mind that the original Blade Runner is set then.
It’s a bit unexpected that Chad, whose old identity was bound up in bedding an endless sequence of mega-hot babes (or Stacys), would come to symbolize a period when one-night stands are thwarted by quarantine conditions. On the other hand, Chad also embodies a range of comically hyper-masculine extremes, pushing everything to the max, and 2020’s vibe is very much “driving a monster truck full of killer bees into a nuclear reactor at 350 mph.” We saw this when so-called “Corona Chads” foolishly decided to party at spring break despite the coronavirus outbreak.
Chad wouldn’t rate “may you live in interesting times” as a curse — bring on the interesting times, bro! Sounds sick! Thus the macho element of riding out a semi-apocalypse. We’re all the guy with a flamethrower guitar in Mad Max: Fury Road, embracing the open wasteland ahead.
The reward for making it to 2021 and beyond, one hopes, will be bragging rights. Maybe someone will put out “I Survived 2020” T-shirts to wear as we ring in the New Year. Better still, though, would be if we could channel some of Chad’s natural, effortless superiority and poise as we confront the many-tentacled disaster that is the present.
I don’t mean you should go around acting invincible, but honestly? Some Chad-esque confidence in yourself, your ambitions and your social networks could be just the thing to get you through this. Start lifting weights. Listen to 1980s hair metal anthems. Slide into DMs with the laziest pickup lines you’ve got. No rules, man. Despair is the enemy, and Chad doesn’t know despair.
Now stand in front of a mirror and practice your fist bumps.