I’ve heard about how certain men can’t be rapists, or certain politicians can’t be backstabbers, or certain workplace members can’t be jerks or wife-beaters because they’re “such nice blokes.”
Anyone, when in public, can be a rather nice bloke, for five, ten, even twenty minutes, or a few hours. But what about in private?
“Nice bloke” in our society often translates to merely “happy.” If a person is happy or jolly, they’re a “nice bloke.” But does being happy really mean you are “nice”- that is to say, kind, fair, ethical, moral, etc? No. It could merely mean you are not experiencing personal hardship yourself, or are not receiving treatment that is disagreeable to you.
Happy does not equal nice. Hitler was happy and actually did a dancing jig after conquering France (yes, there are pics). Does that mean Hitler was “nice” because he was happy? For the record, Donald Frump smiles a whole lot, too.
This “happy = nice” spiel is the flip side of what I call the Villainization of the Disgruntled, which is a phenomenon in culture and media where the dejected outsider or dissatisfied reject is always cast as a villain. Think of Uncle Scar from The Lion King, Ursula from Little Mermaid, or the Green Goblin/Norman Osborne from Spiderman. It is also present throughout history, with the “victors write history” reality and such traditions as the lower economic classes being portrayed as “rabble rousers” or blacks and women being portrayed as annoyingly dissatisfied…or worse.
Both sides of the “happy = nice; disgruntled = villainous” coin are used: the latter against those who are rightly and justly dissatisfied with their lot in life, or with the way of the world in general, and the former in favor of status-quo upholders, portraying them as better or friendlier people.
The “happy = nice” trick is promoted from several different angles, such as the pro-abuser angle, which implies that the angrier or less calm person must be the abuser and the happy spouse must be the better person. If a person verbally abuses their partner with a smile or a calm, “rational” demeanor, it’s not really abuse, because the abuser’s face looked happy.
It also comes from the misogynistic or catcalling angle, which says women who aren’t smiling (women who are dissatisfied or disgruntled) are not to be trusted or accepted.
It comes from faulty child rearing, which claims that a sour-faced or bitter child is being “naughty” or immoral somehow (“You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I’m telling you why…”)
It comes from the New Age angle, which says that anyone who has a “negative attitude”- whatever the piss that is- is the unhealthy one, even if they are unhappy about something unfair, or are happy for selfish reasons.
It comes from the bully culture, which says that a person who is happy or confident is nice (perhaps this is due to a sort of psychological transference, where people are attracted to those they want to be like- so people who want to be happy themselves are attracted to smiles and confidence). If a person is happy that means he is “good,” even though the only reason he may be happy is because he was doing what he enjoyed, which is being bad to someone else.
(A subset of this angle is the “smiling politician” phenomenon, where those who smile or are happy get elected more, even though someone sour would more likely fit the same life experience and belief profile as those trodden-upon souls whose votes he’s trying to get. The business version of this is where the confident go-getter gets hired more or, if a boss, the employees “enjoy” working under him more).
(Another subset is the “might makes right” or “survival of the fittest”– that is, Social Darwinist- sub-angle, which states that someone who is privileged or treated well by life should be admired, looked up to, supported, and emulated, even if the person being pushed to support or look up to him is the one he is trampling on!)
I repeat: “happy” does not equal “nice,” and certainly not “good.” It only means the person who’s happy/jolly/gay/cheerful is personally satisfied with, or is being made cheerful by, whatever is happening in their lives. And, more often than not, that merely means they are a white rich Christian male who doesn’t have any major problems…
…whereas some of the most pissed off and hard-edged black, poor females I know are among the nicest, fairest, most agreeable people I ever met. Their anger is not directed towards the innocent, but towards the guilty.
And that’s what matters with anger. Where it goes and why it’s there.
It’s the same with happiness.