so, i'm not entirely sure that i'm the diatribe type but i just got done watching 'Network' directed by Sidney Lumet and written by Paddy Chayefsky so i'm in a particularly prophetic mood. there's a line in that film that struck me in particular and i'd like to, for a moment, reflect on why.
Howard Beale address his audience at one point by relaying a vision: "And I said, 'what is this? the burning bush? for god's sake, i'm not moses!' and the voice said, 'and i'm not god! what's that got to do with anything?!'" the words empowered a sense of self-importance and while i saw that Beale was drunk on his own words, i couldn't help but also see that his arrogance heavily involved him in a televised revolution that encouraged the messenger and not the message. his fictional legacy is one that reflects the shift in network television, where corporations invested in the medium and ratings became more important than responsibility. In other words, the news had to be entertaining and pull it's weight in revenue instead of serving the public objectively. This is the norm in television now but in the 70s this shift was taking place and those within the business of television who saw it coming were thrown away like wrinkled 8tracks.
Anchors are actors now and they ask pointed questions, report on the most dramatic stories and arguably determine what we, the public, know. Television is still the most powerful source of news but i feel like what's happened is that editorials have taken the news' place. and maybe i'm dumb for thinking so and not just knowing so and brushing it off. But i can believe a Keith Olbermann (not that he's a bad guy) as though he were an automatic truth teller and that what he has to say is right in an objective way when everything he says is subjectively tinted with the way he says it. i can even go as far as believing Jon Stewart as an authority on a kind of left morality. that moral being perhaps that we can all laugh while the world burns. it's all happening on television after all. i don't like feeling that way..
Beale towards the end of the picture helps the television generation realize the inevitability of their own demise as individuals (an antiquated lesson for the google generation-sigh-). Not death as in the end of everything, but death as in the end of a dream that all men are entitled to themselves and that in every man rightfully exists a universe. He speaks of a day when all the world is ruled by one corporation and mankind works to maintain It's glory. I hope he's wrong. but then again, i see the writings on the wall and i've fallen for profiting false prophets myself. that was lame..nevermind.
some of beale's madness: