Sunday, September 14, 2008

Video - Network - Television is a Circus

One of the great speeches from Sidney Lumet's 1976 classic film Network. Written by Paddy Chayefski, this movie chronicled the corruption of television news, and prophesized the rise of entertainment-as-news and corporate dominance. It's predictions of the future - our present - are downright scary. This is one angry satire.

This scene, featuring the late Peter Finch as the "mad" Howard Beale, should be burned into your memory. If there is anything that captures everything corruptible about television, it's this moment. The comparisons to Fox News are obvious, but I think it's too simple to dismiss Chayefski's warning as that. The corruption he predicted is present everywhere. Fox News merely dug a little deeper into the mud hole, that's all. The rest of the corporate media quickly, and gleefully, followed.

I don't know what it means for democracy when television is so thoroughly controlled. When reality can become spun into any fantasy, for the service of profit and government and ideology, what future can democracy have? It is mass delusion. How sad; the great mass of once free-thinking people are chained to their sets, chained to their indoctrinated helplessness, like elephants in the circus. They could easily break their chains, if they only knew they could.

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