Saturday, May 26

Some Thoughts from Howard Beale

And he said it in 1976, in the movie "Network." Which means that Paddy Chayefski wrote it.

No, this isn't the "I'm Mad as Hell" speech. This is something scarier.

"Right now there is a whole, an entire, generation that never knew anything that didn't come out of this Tube. This Tube is the gospel, the ultimate revelation. This Tube can make or break presidents, popes, prime ministers. This Tube is the most awesome, goddamn force in the whole godless world, and woe is us if it ever falls into the hands of the wrong people...Listen to me. Television is not the truth. Television is a Goddamned amusement park! Television is a circus, a carnival, a traveling troupe of acrobats, story-tellers, dancers, singers, jugglers, side-show freaks, lion tamers and football players. We're in the boredom killing business! So, if you want truth go to God. Go to your gurus. Go to yourselves because that's the only place you're ever going to find any real truth. But, man, you're never gonna get any truth from us. We'll tell you anything you want to hear. We lie like hell. We'll tell you that, uh, Kojak always gets the killer and that nobody ever gets cancer at Archie Bunker's house. And no matter how much trouble the hero is in, don't worry. Just look at your watch. At the end of the hour he's going to win. We'll tell you any shit you want to hear. We deal in illusions, man! None of it is true! But you people sit there day after day, night after night, all ages, colors, creeds...We're all you know. You're beginning to believe the illusions we're spinning here. You're beginning to think that the Tube is reality and that your own lives are unreal. You do whatever the Tube tells you. You dress like the Tube; You eat like the Tube; You raise your children like the Tube; You even think like the Tube. This is mass madness! You maniacs! In God's name, you people are the real thing. We are the illusion! So turn off your television sets. Turn them off now. Turn them off right now. Turn them off and leave them off. Turn them off right in the middle of this sentence I'm speaking to you now. Turn them off!"

I saw "Network" with a friend who was working in news for one of the "Big Three" networks. As we drove away from the theater she said, "I know those people." 31 years later I think we all know those people. The scary thought is that perhaps we are those people!

If it's been awhile since you've seen William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Robert Duvall and Peter Finch (as deranged anchorman Howard Beale) you owe it to yourself to take another look at "Network." See if you can spot Walter Cronkite's daughter in a bit part!