In Brian Philips’s essay “Your Stupid Rage,” Philips talks about how our rage is sometimes displaced on things and people it doesn’t belong on. In other words, we easily and happily blame others for our misfortune…and that’s not a good thing. Except, for the most part Philips essay explains this all under the terms of soccer (between the team and the manager, or the manager and the referee). For those of you not incredibly familiar with sports or soccer teams, these read may feel a bit disconnected to you. BUT, here’s a list of things I think Philips does well:
- A Call to Attention: Philips first addresses his readers by claiming he is here to save our lives. A rather dramatic call, but yes, it does hold the reader’s attention. What this does is makes the reader ask questions within the essay, and by asking questions, the reader now seeks answers to those questions. How will you save my life? And this is where the author must then answer.
- How It Relates to Us: As readers, we don’t want to read things that seemingly have absolutely nothing to do with us. The question’s I asked myself during this reading were: How does soccer relate to me? Why is my “rage” a danger? Philips offers examples to these questions that readers could visualize and relate to.
- Transitions: Transitions are everything in a piece. As writers, we cannot simply just info-dump (drop a load of information) on our readers and expect them to digest it all. Philips slowly introduces us into the topic of soccer, so subtle, I didn’t realize I was reading about the topic until the third paragraph (up until that point, I thought it was just an example he uses).
- Book Ends: The last section of the read brings us back to the very beginning, with how all of this information is supposed to save our (the readers’) lives. He gives legitimate reasons for why our (sports) rage is an awful way to enjoy watching, well, sports.
To connect to your audience on a subject they may not necessarily be able to relate to can be difficult. There are some things I think Philips does well (Book Ends is my favorite bit), but when it comes to “uncommon sense” it was difficult to distinguish the “common” from the “uncommon”.