The Answer Man

Published: July 22, 2011

By Jim Lichtman
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Writer Arlen Faber is a god.

After authoring the global phenomenon, Me and God, everyone and their grandmother wants answers to the great unanswered questions in life. The problem is world famous (J.K. Rowling famous) Arlen doesn’t want to talk to anyone.

Well, that’s not entirely correct. Arlen is a perennial misanthrope… Okay, he’s an a#$&hole who only begins to think about reentering the world outside his house after he’s crippled with back pain so severe that he’s stuck to the floor in his house for something like 14 hours.

Throughout the rest of this delightful little movie, Arlen comes to learn that it is better to give than to receive and in so doing, he finds the spiritual redemption he’s been seeking.

Watching the film caused me to see parallels between the lowly Arlen and miserable mogul Rupert Murdoch. To begin with:

Rupert Murdoch is a god who controls a vast, media empire. (Charles Foster Kane big.) Beginning with one little newspaper in Australia, Murdoch eventually expanded his media empire into Britain, the United States as well as Asian markets.

After the phone-hacking that brought down his baby News of the World, a growing list of public officials want Rupert to answer some unanswered questions like: What did you know and when did you know it; and how could you be blind to the hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal settlements and “expenses,” paid out to vast list of victims and high-priced lawyers?

Rupert, not exactly a recluse, doesn’t like it when officials and the media question him about anything, let alone his knowledge of how he got the inside stories that wound up on the front page of his favorite tabloid, (strange for a man who built an empire on printing the secrets of others).

Okay, Rupert is an a#$&hole who only begins to think about reentering the world outside his empire after he’s crippled with potential jail time unless he humbles himself in front of a British Parliament committee looking into allegations of bribery, wiretapping and other forms of illegal activity.

I’d like to say that the rest of Rupert’s “delightful” little episode comes to a satisfying conclusion where the mogul of muck finds spiritual redemption but sadly the real world of tabloid journalism comes with its own special blend of power and rationalization. As Murdoch put it so eloquently himself in this exchange when asked, “Do you accept that ultimately you are responsible for this whole fiasco?”

“No,” Murdoch says.

When asked who is responsible, Rupert replies, “The people that I trusted to run it (his newspapers) and then maybe the people they trusted.”

Through the course of his journey, Arlen the writer begins to see that in helping others he helps himself.

Through the course of his journey (thus far), Rupert the mogul only cares about helping mitigate the damage to his empire.

In the movie, people believe Arlen speaks to the Almighty.

In real life, Rupert believes he IS the Almighty.

Arlen Faber developed an open-mind.

Rupert cultivated an open check book.

Arlen sees that we’re all interconnected and dependent on one another.

Rupert sees others as a means to an end… his.

Arlen became compassionate.

Rupert doesn’t know how to spell compassionate.

Arlen developed a genuine respect for others.

Rupert only respects Rupert.

In the end, Arlen embraces humility.

While the end isn’t quite in sight, Rupert embodies hubris.



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