Thoughts on the Movie “Network” from 1976

Recently, I was reminded of the movie which came out in 1976 titled NETWORK. Story written by Paddy Chayefsky and Directed by Sidney Lumet. Starring Peter Finch (Howard Beale), Faye Dunaway (Diana Christensen), William Holden (Max Schumacher), Robert Duvall (Frank Hackett), and Ned Beatty (Arthur Jensen). The story line was way ahead of it’s times in predicting the media mess in which we now find ourselves in the second decade of the 21st century. As Orwell’s novel, 1984, published in 1949, predicted the One World Government of Big Brother; so, in my mind, was this production the precursor to the dilemma we are confronting currently with the High Tech takeover of our information systems through our media conglomerate and our government agencies. The parallels can be seen throughout the movie. All one need do is substitute our iphones and various other devices in place of the early black and white television sets of the ’40’s and 50’s. As in those years, he who channeled the information was king, and that quickly became the news outlets who shaped the stories on the nightly news. This has now exploded exponentially into the 24/7 hand held accessibility we are privy to, nay, addicted to, today.

My husband and I watched the movie last night. I had not seen it since the original opening back in the 70’s; it was almost considered a cult film, in my opinion. I was way younger, and really didn’t see into the film the actual story it was exposing. As I suspect everyone else who’s seen it does, when I think of the movie, all that I envision is Howard Beale demanding from his news show television screen to his audience….to go to the window and scream out loudly:

“I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore.” !!! And then the movie camera pans out to show a row of brownstones in New York City with folks leaning out yelling the phrase over and over again.

I strongly advise you to rent the movie. If you are under age 50, you probably have never seen it. It is worth your while, even if only to watch the 5 minute scene when Ned Beatty, as Jensen, the “god” of all news networks, meets Howard Beale in the headquarters in NYC. His rebuke of the “mad prophet’s” ravings on his daily show are eerily parallel to the Cancel Culture censorship and “narrative” that is fed individual internet users on so called democratic social networks today. The scene is set in a boardroom and Jensen stands in a spotlight of the otherwise dark room, looking down the long table at a visibly shaken, maniacal Beale; they are the only two in the room. It is a hellfire sermon meant to turn the lunatic’s nightly ravings into an indoctrination hour, spinning the Narrative of the Networks. The story of One World, not of America, nor of democracy, and especially not of the truth. But the narrative of the elite financiers who run the world. Mind you, this is fifty years ago in a century where television was just becoming commonplace in every household; the iphone not even the apple of Steve Job’s unformed mind.

There is another subplot in the movie which is highlighted by the manipulative love entanglement between Dunaway as the up and coming series creator/producer, and Holden, as the old-school, 25 year veteran of media news as it morphed into televised version from print. This side story hints at the cultural breakdown that is already occurring by the complete control of the networks of what folks are hearing and being spoon fed, proffered nightly in their homes as “news”. Amazing that even fifty years ago, writers, thinkers, and creators were observing the reshaping of our thoughts and moral convictions, our cultural belief systems.

Viewing this movie I am sure you will see the parallels with the sound bite news lines which are parrotlike mimics as you switch from one news outlet to another across the board. Well, at least that is what it seems that Mr. Beale is objecting to: the brainwashing of the general public. Only now it is the exact same line repeated over and over relating to any one hot button topic. MSNBC, CNN, ABC, NBC,CBS, as well as political pundits online, and government officials at all levels. The party line as I call it. What is it “they” say? if you repeat anything over and over it will eventually become the truth.

I swear this movie was the early precursor to whistleblowers of today. Howard Beale as the erstwhile “channel”, the prophet of Truth.

Watch it and let me know what you think.

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An artistic soul wandering aimlessly and miraculously through the confines of earthspace, in a desperate attempt to reshape reality into a version of the wonderland of my imagination. Only glimpses come in to focus as I tend to the garden and commune with the flora and fauna, in awe of the graciousness and expansion of the world beyond our grasp. Deeply intrigued by the endless worlds within the soul and spirit of we mere humans.

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