A post this morning about a film that would convince us that climate change is all about individual denial rather than the larger issues of corporate and governmental malfeasance makes one wonder just what it takes to make the public realize they are being duped at every available opportunity. It also brought to mind the 1976 film Network, directed by Sidney Lumet and written by the prescient Paddy Chayefsky, in which the machinations of the media, the dehumanization of the individual and one very angry man all collide in a very public meltdown.
“I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad.
We know things are bad — worse than bad. They’re crazy. It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don’t go out anymore.
Well, I’m not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get MAD!
I’m a human being, god-dammit! My life has value!
I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!
And when the twelfth largest company in the world controls the most awesome, god-damn propaganda force in the whole godless world, who knows what shit will be peddled for truth on this network.
Television is not the truth. Television’s a god-damned amusement park. Television is a circus, a carnival, a traveling troupe of acrobats, storytellers, dancers, singers, jugglers, sideshow freaks, lion tamers, and football players. We’re in the boredom-killing business.
We’ll tell you any shit you want to hear.
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.
It’s the individual that’s finished. It’s the single, solitary human being that’s finished. It’s every single one of you out there that’s finished. Because this is no longer a nation of independent individuals. It’s a nation of some two hundred odd million transistorized, deodorized, whiter-than-white, steel-belted bodies, totally unnecessary as human beings and as replaceable as piston rods.
The whole world’s people are becoming mass-produced, programmed, numbered, insensate things.”
Over a quarter of a century later, with the entrenchment of Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, the excerpts above taken from Howard Beale’s rant are no less searing. In fact, one might say we didn’t pay any attention at all, didn’t heed the warnings of those like Beale, and the many others from Snowden, Suzuki and Nader, Thoreau and Carson to Wordsworth and Ruskin, who got in our face about how we are constantly letting ourselves get screwed. Time to wake up from that insensate sleep of denial and make some changes: be Beale and rant because eventually someone will have to listen.