When Art and Reality collide ...
Originally posted Sat, 02/02/2008 - 13:27 - standingup
When Art and Reality collide ...
what wreckage will be left in its wake?
Screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky, a World War II veteran, and recipient of the Purple Heart, penned a movie script that has yet to its full impact.
That 1976 Movie: Network
at the time, it seemed more Satire, than Truth.
After what has transpired in the 3 decades since, perhaps it deserves another viewing ... because rarely have truer words ever been aired.
(Thankfully the FCC is slow to act, and we still have those Internets ... for much longer? ... time will tell ...)
(notice the fore-shadowing with the CBS-Dan Rather saga)
The story opens with long-time "UBS Evening News" anchor Howard Beale (played by Peter Finch) being fired because of the show's low ratings. ...
UBS immediately fires him after this incident, but they let him back on the air, ostensibly for a dignified farewell, ... Beale promises that he will apologize for his outburst, but instead rants about how life is "bullshit." While there are serious repercussions, the program's ratings skyrocket and, much to Schumacher's dismay, the upper echelons of UBS decide to exploit Beale's antics rather than pulling him off the air.
This Movie left America with this lasting Cultural Icon:
"I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this any more!"
Here is one of the most memorable scenes:
(please excuse the sub-titles, as this clip had important lead-in details which help set the scene.)
Network - Mad as hell
Despite his temporary reprieve and re-assignment as "Infotainment Prophet to the Masses", Howard Beale still manages to stir up the anger of the "powers that be".
In this scene, one of the Network's Corporate Owners sits-down his naive anchor (now with Ratings Power), and "schools him" in the rules by which the world really operates:
(It was rumored that in late 1992, that an idealistic young President-elect Bill Clinton, received a similar such, "sit-down & listen-up Lecture", about the ways of the world.)
Network - Money speech
The Listen-up Lecture:
You have meddled with the primary forces of nature, Mr Beale, and I won't have it! Is that clear?
You think you merely stopped a business deal. That is not the case. The Arabs have take billions of dollars out of this country, and now they must put it back! It is ebb and flow, tidal gravity. It is ecological balance.
You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations. There are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There are no Third Worlds. There is no West. There is only one holistic system of systems. One vast and inane, interwoven, interacting, multi-varied, multi-national dominion of dollars. Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, reichmarks, rands, rubles, pounds and shekels.
It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today. THAT is the atomic, and sub-atomic, and galactic structure of things today.
And YOU have meddled with the primal forces of nature. And YOU WILL atone.
Am I getting through to you, Mr Beale?
You get up on your little twenty one inch screen and howl, about America and democracy. There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM and ITT, and AT&T, and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today.
What do you think the Russians talk about in their Councils of State? Karl Marx? They get out their linear programming charts, statistical decision theories, mini-max solutions, and compute the price-cost probabilities of their transactions and investments, just like we do.
We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr Beale. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable by-laws of of business. The world is a business, Mr Beale. It has been since man crawled out of the slime.
And our children will live, Mr Beale, to see that ... perfect world in which there is no war nor famine, oppression or brutality. One vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit. In which all men will hold a share of stock.
All necessities provided. All anxieties tranquilized. All boredom amused.
That was Chilling!
Good thing it is only Fiction! ... (we hope)
Funny, this modern day "Oracle of the Truth", has paid homage to the Movie that spoke to a generation past:
Keith Olbermann Channels Howard Beale Character from Network
How's that old saying go ...
"Those who don't learn from the past, are doomed to repeated it."
The Media sells us everything from shoes, to soap, to soda. In the modern era, they have taken this salesmanship to new heights, as they now have taken on the task to sell us our Candidates too. (Just ask John Edwards, how the Media treated him.)
"Free Market 'rules'", I guess.
Here are some final words of wisdom, from Oracles past. Perhaps someday we will be wise enough to heed them:
Beware of "Speaking the Truth to Power" --
Where's the Entertainment Value, in that?
"We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr Beale."
... The world is a business, Mr Beale."