Recently I’ve been watching an Australian TV series called Rake. The title character, Cleaver Greene (played by Richard Roxburgh), is a barrister and a deeply dysfunctional man who consistently hurts the people around him through his selfishness and inconsideration. We’re invited to like him because he’s also funny and sexy and charismatic, and because deep down he has a moral compass and a great deal of love, even though he’s generally shit at showing it. This makes him part of a long and problematic tradition of male antiheroes, which is worth analyzing but not what I have in mind to talk about right now. The point is, he’s fun to watch, but he’s not someone anybody should want to emulate.
Cleaver has a rival named David Potter, played by Matt Day. David has dark hair and wears round glasses, and Cleaver habitually calls him ‘Harry-sorry-David’. Just like that, with no pause between the ‘mistake’ and the ‘correction’. If they were friends, then ‘Harry’ could be an affectionate nickname for David—the way Scarlet (Danielle Cormack) is called ‘Red’ and Barney (Russel Dykstra) is called ‘Barnyard’—but they’re not, and it isn’t. The immediate ‘-sorry-David’ bit drives that point home. It says ‘I know that’s not your name but I don’t fucking care’, and it pre-empts any correction or objection from David or anyone else who might intervene on his behalf.
At one point in the series, Cleaver’s son Fuzz (Keegan Joyce) says this to him:
Why is it you have to mock anything you don’t understand? Anyone and anything who’s different. Who even slightly challenges your fucked-up world view. You have to reduce it to a funny line. This is why you’re going to end up sad and lonely.
Anyway, that’s the kind of person you sound like if you deliberately call someone by the wrong name or pronoun and then follow it up with a disingenuous correction instead of making a good-faith effort to get it right in the first place.