Lessons from infamous “What Do You Want?” rant by Noah Calhoun/Ryan Gosling in The Notebook
1. Choose a location diametrically opposed to whatever it is you hope to say – the greater the contradiction, the higher the likelihood of success. Choose a location so unexpected it borders on absurd. Adam Sandler chose the golf course for his rant in Happy Gilmore and Steve Carell chose a bicycle on the road for his rant in 40-Year Old Virgin, but our protagonist, Noah Calhoun, chose the open fields, known for its quiet and solitude, for his energized and profoundly fervid rant. The location amplifies his rant, and allows it to reach decibels only whispered about. You know you’ve reached true rant mastery if the next-door neighbor throws a newspaper at your head. Alas, that did not happen in this movie, as Noah opted to build his house in the middle of nowhere, so unfortunately, his rant, though saturated with memorable qualities, can only be considered to be the brown belt of rants.
2. Repeat something over and over again. Saying it once is casual. Saying it twice, is emphasis. Saying it thrice could be an accident, a slip of the tongue. Saying it four times is a sub-conscious plea to be made a meme.
3. Say it with a smoldering, devil-may-care intensity, as if it is now 3am, and you’re on your 20th take and questioning the worth of being paid $1 million to become an advertisement for burrito bowls. All over the all-consuming black hole that is the internet, there is a now-immortalized portrait of a man throwing his hand out in the throes of passion, shouting “I want all of you, forever, you and me, every day” at a taco and an In-N-Out Burger. The trick is that you have to believe in what you’re saying, as if you’ve had many years of practice asking your friends what they want for lunch, for dinner. Let’s face it, we’ve all been there before.
4. Say it with fanatical gesticulation and a dash of awkwardness, because statistics (1) have shown that perceived anger increases exponentially with the velocity and sheer zeal of one’s gesticulation. Even better if you ball your hands into fists because we know all arguments are a game of rock-paper-scissors with the other party. It is not easy to ask “What do you want?” four times without asking that of yourself. You do not know what you want, but surely, what you do not want is to be there, asking “What do you want?” for the umpteenth time.
5. Lean against the get-away vehicle, and obstruct the path of the subject of your rant. You have to stop them from leaving before the rant is done. In this scene, Allie (Rachel McAdams) is right. It really isn’t that simple. It is not that simple to get away.
1.Perceived anger increases at 7.0678x the rate of one’s gesticulation. I am also 70.678% sure this statistic isn’t made up.
Sher Ting has lived in Singapore, for 19 years moving to Australia for medical school. She has work published/forthcoming in Eunoia Review, Opia Mag, Overheard, TunaFish Journal and Door Is A Jar, among others. She is currently an editor of INLY Arts and The Aurora Journal. Twitter: @sherttt