Thursday, February 11, 2010

America's Mad-as-Hell Moment--What Next?

A new poll confirms what we know: Two out of three Americans are "dissatisfied with or angry about the way the government works." We are in a reprise of "Network," in which a demented anchorman gets millions to yell their outrage.

In the 1976 movie, Howard Beale rants: "Everybody knows things are bad. It's a depression. Everybody's out of work or scared of losing their job, the dollar buys a nickel's worth, banks are going bust...

"We know the air's unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat...We all know things are bad. Worse than bad. They're crazy...

"I don't want you to write your Congressmen. Because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write. I don't know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the defense budget...

"All I know is first you got to get mad. You've got to say: 'I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this any more. I'm a human being, goddammit. My life has value.' So I want you to get up now. I want you to get out of your chairs and go to the window. Right now. I want you to go to the window, open it, and stick your head out and yell. I want you to yell: 'I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this any more!'"

In 2010, Americans are yelling, not out their windows, but at ballot boxes, Tea Party rallies and in opinion polls. They even have their low-rent reincarnation of Howard Beale in Glenn Beck, who says of the movie madman, “I think that’s the way people feel. That’s the way I feel.”

Beale was invented by my high-school and college classmate Paddy Chayevsky, a brilliant satirist, whose work foretold much of what's wrong with today's world--the media and society in 'Network," health care in "The Hospital" and our inability to stop senseless wars in "The Americanization of Emily."

But as life imitates art, it's worth remembering what happens to Howard Beale at the end of "Network." As viewers get bored with his ravings and his ratings drop, the TV hacks who fed off his rage have him killed on camera.

As American anger overwhelms the political process today and its consequences are unclear, I can offer a clue to how our society assimilates and coopts everything in its path into a passing sensation that eventually loses its novelty and gives way to the next national mood change.

A few years after "Network came out, I was having lunch with a literary agent in a Manhattan media hangout as Paddy passed by and said hello. He was on his way to the next table to be introduced to William Paley, founder of CBS, avatar of the TV executives in the movie.

“I must admit,” we overheard Paddy telling Paley, “I’m nervous about meeting you.”

The agent leaned toward my ear. “He should be. They showed ‘Network’ on CBS the other night, and it got lousy ratings.”

In a while, the Tea Party, Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck will wear out their ability to excite Americans and their ratings will turn lousy, but how much damage will they do in the meantime?


Better Home Business said...

"We Are Mad As Hell And We The People Of America Are Not Going To Take It Anymore!"

"We the People"

"545 vs 300-million"

I am a home grown American citizen, will you stand up with me?‏

I hope this goes around THE USA at least 100 times!!! YOU can help it get there!!!

GO AHEAD - - - BE AN AMERICAN!!! We the People - 545 vs 300,000,000 - Get informed, get involved today!

CALL TODAY: U.S. Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121
Congressional Switchboard

"We the People are as Mad as Hell: Are we becoming a Banana Republic?"
by The Funbobbasso's Channel

Watch the video: "We the People Stimulus Package"

CONTINUE ARTICLE:"We the People are as Mad as Hell Are we becoming a Banana Republic"

"We Are Mad As Hell And We The People Of America Are Not Going To Take It Anymore!"

jf said...

To me, the most interesting and consequential character in Network is Diana Christensen (Faye Dunaway), who's willing to drive off the cliff if it's good for ratings. It's not so much Beck or Palin, but their enablers we have to worry about.

Fuzzy Slippers said...

What's next? We're going to vote every progressive, every RINO, every threat to our nation out of office. Once the government has been returned to its former corrupt model, as opposed to this not only corrupt but radically-left model, we'll all "simmer down" and go back to clinging to our guns and religion.

Until then, though, don't hold your breath for the passing of the Tea Party, Glenn, or Sarah. We're not merely mad as hell, you see, we're offended, frightened, and feeling not a little self-righteous. You can see, I hope, the difference and intuit that this isn't simply a "mad as hell" flair up to be mocked and brushed aside. But this was, as always, an eloquent and beautifully-written attempt to do just that. :p