from an email i just wrote my 40-something co-worker, to whom i am trying to illuminate the unironic wonders of riff raff, whose janky flow about bumblebee tuna and other delights never ceases to fascinate me:

No, everything about him is terrible. Everything. That is, somehow, what makes him so great.

Despite his top-to-bottom disgustingness, Riff Raff is still the hero of his own life story. He still manages to be the “good guy” of his own narrative. He still manages to feel like the sort of person he can root for. No infusion of fame or money or status has been able to breed out of him the fundamental ickiness of himself, and yet, he can still conceive of himself as a quality artist and someone to whom it is worth giving the things that he wants.
The reason I think Riff Raff is wonderful and fascinating is related in a way I can’t articulate to something a drama teacher said once in class about how, when you’re playing a bad guy, you can’t let the knowledge that YOU have that the character is a bad guy be any part of how you actually portray the bad guy. Because no one is the “bad guy” in his own life. Gollum is the saddest, grossest, most pathetic thing out there, but Gollum can’t PLAY himself that way, because that’s not how sad, gross, pathetic people actually live — they have to be the heroes of their own stories. And such is Riff Raff. A great and terrifying specimen of lots and lots of hideous Americana.

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