Tuesday, November 3, 2015
(BOOK REVIEW) HOW TO BE RIGHT – THE ART OF BEING PERSUASIVELY CORRECT: NOW IF ONLY THE RNC WOULD READ THIS
Let me say up front that your political viewpoints will more than likely determine ahead of time whether you love or hate this book. Honestly, that’s sad. But we’ve become a political world where convenience seems to trump responsibility. Rather than look deeper than a headline people tend to base their beliefs on memes and slogans. If that’s you then you’ll miss something when it comes to this book. You’ll miss a great deal of information but on top of that you’ll miss some great laughs as well. So if you’re interested in both then continue reading.
Greg Gutfeld is a commentator, a satirist and a member of the regular panel on Fox News Channel’s THE FIVE. Among the commentators there he is by far the wittiest and the most regularly hilarious member. As host for years of RED EYE, Fox’s late night show, he brought together a divergent group in individuals to talk about the days topics that was enlightening and funny at the same time. As his star has risen Gutfeld has taken his words from spoken to book format authoring four books including this one. All insightful and are worth reading.
But this new book is something more important. It’s something that members of the Republican Party need to read, especially those higher up. It also should be required reading for all of the Republican candidates as well during this election year. They could use the sage advice offered here.
Gutfeld makes numerous great points in the book but the most important is that if the truth of what the right stands for is to get out there a better presentation is needed to make it happen. What Republicans lack when it comes to speakers that represent them is a charismatic leader who can reach people on a level that doesn’t involve fact filled charts and graphs but just talking to them. The last time this happened was with Ronald Reagan and look how good he did.
The book opens with a chapter called “Why We’re Evil” which doesn’t really present that as a desirable description but actually discusses why Republicans have been saddled with that label and done little to counter it with the exception of saying “Nuh uh!” Admitting up front that you will be attacked for saying you are a Conservative, Gutfeld explains how to explain you stance in a way that’s both quick and difficult to refute. That answer, from the book, is “Here is the simple stance to why you are Right: It is a more practical, generous, and compassionate way to live”. The fact of the matter is he’s right or to be more understandable, he is correct. He then discusses how to present you case in a way that doesn’t resort to insults or simply saying I’m right and you’re wrong.
Much of what he carries on with discusses the fact that for liberalism to exist it needs conservatism there to allow it to be. As he says “Liberalism can exist only in periods of calm” that “…conservatism doesn’t compete with liberalism, it sustains it.” Safety and security must be a part of our society for there to be the free time to consider much of what liberals have to offer. Well not so much offer as take it from others to offer to someone else. With each word printed in the book he explains this and how both views need one another.
But Gutfeld doesn’t let the right off the hook either. As he states in the book “The left is excellent at extolling horrible ideas; the right is horrible at extolling excellent ideas.” Therein lies the heart of the book. While he does lean to the right (Gutfeld says that he’s a libertarian and all things point this direction though I’m sure the left considers him just shy of Rush Limbaugh), Gutfeld points out problems with both sides of the issues. Best of all is that along with the humor he is noted for he presents arguments that are fact based. Sadly that might not matter. My father has told me more than once that liberals don’t want to be confused by facts. Which might be why this book is so important.
That’s because Gutfeld doesn’t rely simply on facts. As I said from the start, the book is more about being able to argue persuasively. Eight years ago we had a relatively unknown and unaccomplished nominee for President running who won not based on his abilities and his record but because he was persuasive. It’s what young people today in a world of social media where everything is explained in 140 characters in a tweet expect. This book helps conservatives find the way to do that. And make you laugh.
Greg Gutfeld takes a lot of flak from his co-hosts for promoting his books when they come out but the fact is they are enjoyable books to read. They make you think and they make you laugh. As with many satirists from the past, he blends those two things together to make an impression on those willing to look past those memes and slogans, those one worded posters like “HOPE” and extremely edited campaign commercials and find some truth in a world where one side controls most media. Now if we could just get Republican candidates to read this book.
One of the great things about movies is that a subject matter can be sought out by an inventive writer or director and finally get the green light to have that movie made. When that happens, the writer or director can bring to the attention of the world a topic that they may never have heard of before. In the case of THE END OF THE TOUR director James Ponsoldt and writer Donald Margulies bring to our attention author David Foster Wallace.
Some may be familiar with Wallace and his works. I am not one of those people. But in watching this film I was provided with a look at the author as interpreted by this team as well as David Lipsky upon whose book the film was made. The author and Lipsky are both brought to life by actors Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg in a way that makes them both interesting. When the film ends you may find yourself as I did, searching for information about both men and perhaps seeking out their books.
The movie opens with word that author David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel) has just died of an apparent suicide. This causes writer David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) to be contacted to discuss Wallace and to reflect on the time the two spent together. Going back 12 years, Lipsky is an author whose latest book is well received but not doing as well as he had hoped. At a party among friends Lipsky talks about taking on a job at Rolling Stone as a writer and then hears about an author everyone is talking about, David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel), whose new book Infinite Jest is being hailed as the greatest thing currently in print. To see what the talk is all about Lipsky reads the book. Aware of how great the book is, he convinces his editor at Rolling Stone to send him out to interview Wallace.
Thus begins a road trip that develops into a friendship between two authors both seeking something completely different and yet identical at the same time. Lipsky arrives in Wallace’s Midwest home in the middle of a snow covered winter, a far cry from the city streets of New York he is familiar with. Wallace is a nice sort who greets him and welcomes him into his home, an unassuming ranch house that’s more everyday guy than talked about literary celebrity. Wallace is a quiet man who lives with his two dogs, wears a bandana around his head and is wary at first of being interviewed.
As the two men spend time together their comfort level increases and Wallace ends up opening his world, his life and his mind to Lipsky. Their discussions are fascinating to listen to and you soon discover that behind this sought after author is a man who fears losing himself and his sanity to celebrity. He loves his life the way it is. While Lipsky can’t understand this feeling as he desires notoriety, he comes to realize what it is that Wallace means in his search to retain his own identity.
Along the way the pair share stories of their lives and backgrounds as they drive from one location to the next while Wallace completes the last stop on his travels to promote his book. The two bond as they travel until a jealousy seems to take over Lipsky and he begins flirting with an ex of Wallace’s that meets with them in Minneapolis. The rift between the two offers an insight into both with each jealous of the other. This up and down rollercoaster ride of adulation and envy that fills becomes apparent to Lipsky before the end of the film just as the acceptance of him and envy of his lifestyle is shown in the character of Wallace. What they each take back from their road trip makes for a wonderful movie.
Both actors bring to life the two men that they story is based on. I’ve never been a huge fan of Eisenberg but when he’s on point he does a tremendous job and that’s what he does here. While his performance is that good it is Segel who surprised me here. Having watched his career for some time in almost always comedic roles, he takes on Wallace with apparent ease and takes what could have been nothing more than a quirky individual and turns him into something more. That he can do so in such a subdued manner makes the performance even more memorable.
While watching the film I was reminded of the movie MY DINNER WITH ANDRE, a film that was nothing more than a dinner conversation between two intellectuals filled with a back and forth dialogue. While this movie moves around more than that, it feels the same. It is a film filled with conversations between two characters that holds your attention with every word they speak. In the wrong hands that could lead to boredom but here it grabs your attention from start to finish.
Most films these days seem to include little more than explosions and car chases, super heroes or paranormal demons. This movie is about nothing more than two men who start as acquaintances and then become friends, contemporaries who find a common bond in their love of the written word. It’s the type of movie that rarely makes a huge splash at the box office. The nice thing is that with it coming out on DVD perhaps more people will discover the fun they can have while watching it at home.
Click here to order.