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 ...)


The Plot:

(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:



The Lesson:

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."

No votes yet


in Akron, Ohio. My son was a newborn sleeping in his carseat. The movie was riveting.......and speaks well for the times.

This was posted over at dKos not too long ago. It delivers a very simple message. I think it's one of the most radical videos ever made on par with Network. So it ties in perfectly with your commentary.


I'm curious to see if anyone else finds it as radical and revolutionary as I do.

very interesting and worthy of discussion. When it is all there in black and white it paints a very scary picture.

ePMedia ... get the scoop with us!
If it's true that our species is alone in the universe, then I'd have to say that the universe aimed rather low and settled for very little. ~ George Carlin

Seriously. It encourages a complete overthrow of how we think and view ourselves today.

It's brilliant. And it's exactly what's needed at so many levels: local, regional, national, global.

I've been emailing it to everyone I know.

I read Alan Bloom's "Closing of the American Mind" and there is a lot in there about "consumerism" and how that is what we are taught in public schools ... how to be good consumers.

This video is very well done, and explains things in a way that even my third grade grandson could understand.

I found a site that measures your environmental footprint. Interesting to see how many planets it would take to support all of us if we all used at the same rate.

ePMedia ... get the scoop with us!
If it's true that our species is alone in the universe, then I'd have to say that the universe aimed rather low and settled for very little. ~ George Carlin

And to add to your Vids above:

Dave has this over at AfterDowningStreet.

If they were sent to fight, they are too few. If they were sent to die, they are too many!

Is 'Funding' Really For Troops?

What Happened To Funding and Oversite For Military/Veteran Care In Previous Congresses?

"The wise man points to the stars and the fool sees only the finger - and discusses it 24/7 on cable."

I am the third person to reserve it. What if the other too have seen you post here on ePm. Well the only possibility I know is Tony Wikrent and he's coming for dinner tonight.

I liked Chayefsky's films, but never saw this one. Haven't read your plot summary since I'll be watching the film soon.