Why We Suck: A Feel-Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy, and Stupid

By Denis Leary

[In this essay, JT will discuss how Denis Leary uses humor to create social commentary.]
"This is not a book for the faint of heart or the politically correct or the weak or the extreme right wing or the left of center leftist Democrat or nuns or any other members of any organized religion or New York Yankees fans.
I am warning you- I am not here to make you feel all warm and fuzzy or superior to everyone else or all soft and gooey inside. I am here to debunk and declassify and otherwise hold up a brutally honest mirror to our fat, ugly, lazy American selves.
I am here to explain how we can and must thin the herd and extricate the stupid and eradicate the obese and take Rush Limbaugh's head and make a bong out of it.
Senators, psycopaths, fence-sitters (all three of those may sometimes be the same person), celebrity a--holes (hello), presidents, centerfielders, centerfolds- everyone is up for grabs here.
Because I'm sick of it all.
I'm sick of low self-esteem and fake fat-suit-wearing female talk-show hosts and extreme makeovers and Cats the Musical and cats in general and steriod-laden home-run hitters and Paris Hilton and Grey's Anatomy and Reese Witherspoon movies and Paris Hilton's himbo boyfriends and celebrity rehab and Dr. Phil and Terrell Owens and almost anyone else you can think of.
This country- including you and most of the people related to you by birth or marriage or both- is populated by beings who have been so blessed for so long that they have become almost completely immune to any interests other than their own.
Open a-- - insert head.
THAT is the mantra with which most of America lives each and every day." (Leary, pg 2)

Thus begins comedian Denis's Leary's self-help book/memoir. Throughout the entire book, Leary uses humor to create social commentary on what he feels are the roots of some of the most prevalent social problems in American society today. These "roots" range from poor parenting and selfishness to racism and being "politically correct".

Towards the begining of the book, Leary combines bad parenting with selfishness by saying:

"My kid is the size of an out-of-shape NFL offensive lineman, has what within two months might become a full-blown Fu-machu mustache and is already smoking two packs a day and watching internet porn even though SHE is only 12 years old.
Do I put her on a diet and make her start working out?
F--- no.
I sue McDonald's because they make sh---y, hormone-and-chemical-filled food that she eats every single day three TIMES a day because I'm very very busy living my selfish extended adolecent life and don't have time to
a. cook her normal food.
b. monitor her free time.
c. stop smoking pot and drinking so her easiest sources of alcohol and marijuana dry up." (Leary, pg 3)

The theme of selfish parents and bad parenting occurs repeatedly thoughout the book, hailing mostly in a chapter about child stars gone astray due to inattentive parents. Leary frequently cites selfish parents and their ways as the cause of many of our societal problems. In the memoir portion of his book, he speaks frequently about his Irish immigrant parents and their method of "saying no"; he credits them with providing him with the necessary tools for becoming a healthy, mostly-functioning adult. His thought process seems to be that children who aren't taught self-dicipline become as selfish as their parents and contribute to an already faltering American society. Leary's tone comes off a bit strong and over-exaggerated at certain points for nothing more than comic effect; but his message remains clear. It manages to come through his over-the-top perspectives on issues such as these.

Leary also creates social commentary by directly speaking about modern politics; he creates page-long rants on some of the most prominent figures in the American two-party system. He refers to George W. Bush as "George Bush, Jr.", which is suggesting Bush is immature or perhaps below his position; he speaks on Rush Limbaugh who, as stated previously, he believes Americans should "take his head and make a bong out of it"; he also writes a lengthy section dedicated to the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky scandal. As Leary's writing tends to generally be, he overexaggerated and overblows many issues for the sake of his comedy style, but his meaning is, once again, obvious. Through his humor, Leary comments on the current state of politics. He suggests that Americans need to better choose candidates from both parties and retake and reevaluate their government. Leary also indicates that these political representatives are a reflection of the general population and their selfish ignorance; that Americans have become unaware of what is really important.

Leary also creates social commentary on racism. His chapter entitled "We'd Hate You Even If You Weren't Black", although it seems to be one thing, is actually his humorous stance on the ignorance of judging people based on race or color rather than character. Leary speaks against racism many times throughout the book:

"You wanna build a wall to keep the Mexicans out? Fine. Who's gonna build the wall? Where are we gonna get our cheap Mexican weed? Who's gonna host The Dog Whisperer?" (Leary, pg 3)

Although this statement is meant to be funny, he is subtly commenting on one of the most prominent branches the racism that exists in America today. Racism is a common theme in Leary's book; throughout its entirety, he mentions racial stereotypes and insists that they are true:

"Racial and ethnic stereotypes exist because they are TRUE. For instance- don't tell me the Irish don't love to drink. I AM Irish. We invented whiskey, for crissakes. You know what whiskey means in Gaelic? Water of life.
I rest my case.
Of whiskey.
On YOUR politically correct g--dam lap." (Leary, pg 8)

Leary's attitude seems to be that if Americans were to accept all the differences between races and cultures, the climate of racism might change for the better. He attributes these problems to being "politically correct" and trying to hard to please everyone at once. However, Leary also says in the memoir portion of his book that he was taught by his father as a child that "a--holes come in every color", and that he doesn't judge based on race. By mentioning these somewhat differing perspectives, Leary's meaning is that no one should be judged solely on race and that accepting the positive and negative in every race can only be beneficial to Americans as a whole.

Leary's book, for all intents and purposes, is a comedy book, and he tries very hard to be funny and maintain his comedic style through his writing. However, at the same time, it's through this attempt at humor that Leary creates some very obvious and very precise social commentary on the modern American society.

JT 2011

Suck on This Year: LYFAO @ 140 Characters or Less

By Denis Leary

[In this essay, JT will discuss how format and syntax are used to create social commentary.]

Denis Leary's Suck on This Year: LYFAO @ 140 Characters or Less is comprised entirely of "tweets"; a posting on the viral online site Twitter. It's an interesting format for a book, considering there's no real main idea or theme; the book is simply a compilation of random comments that resemble some of the top headlines of 2010. The book consists of portions like the following:

"TSA conducting groin checks. Sen. Larry Craig's been thru 19 times already."
"Sarah Palin: Excellent arguement for serparation of church and brain."
"New Jersey worried about oil residue on beaches. Not from Gulf Spill. From cast of Jersey Shore."
"Jessica Simpson says she only brushes her teeth 3 times a week. Guess she gets dizzy moving her head side to side."
"Man arrested w kilo of coke in chunk of bologna. My bologna has a first name and it won't shut the f--- up."
"Facebook founder pledges 100 million $ to improve Newark public schools. Mayor plans to spend it on yellow crime scene tape."

It's statements like these that really define Leary's writing style; the subject and focus of most of his writing tends to be on American society and pop culture. This particular "tweet" format is not necessarily a usual one for an entire book, but it is the one Leary chooses considering this subject matter. Through this format and the brief syntax used in the 140-character limit, Leary creates social commentary.

The format of the book creates social commentary mainly because it is written to resemble the headlines they are formed after. One of Leary's main themes is the idea that the media has become more and more diluted and empty, with less heavy-hitting headlines than, perhaps, 10 years ago. By writing the entire book in this format, Leary is providing the reader with a very familiar sense of the current media and then surprising them once the content of the "tweet" or "headline" is realized. Leary is subtly commenting on the current state of the American media and poking fun at their everyday headlines.

The syntax used ties directly into this. The brief syntax that is written contributes to the "headline" format of the book. Because the statements are so brief and not complete sentences, they are more likely to resemble news and contribute to Leary's objective of heckling the American media outlet.

Leary's second book is no more than a quick, 10-15 minute read. With that being said, an obvious point is to be had in spite of it. Leary once again uses his particular writing style to create social commentary.

JT 2011