(noon. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
Tonight, hours from the end of the Bush nightmare, I sat in my bed, next to my wife, and watched Paddy Cheyefsky’s Network, a movie I had seen before, but never SEEN and certainly never REALLY SEEN since I became one of the people who dream up the kind of media that Cheyefsky excoriates and lays bare.
The film, thirty years old, but as vital and powerful as its ever been, predicts the rise of reality television as well as the birth of “newsertainment”, wherein the truth is secondary to the drama.
Watching it I wondered if maybe… possibly… PROBABLY… the entire 2008 election could have been a subplot left on Sidney Lumet’s cutting room floor.
The political neophyte with the charming smile. The wife of the ex-President who was OWED the highest office in the land. The crazed, if justified preacher, spewing the darkest fear of the WHITE MAN straight from the pulpit. The war hero and the porn star Alaskan governor and the ruin of CAPITALISM played out night after night after night as a necessary means of keeping the viewer on the edge of their seat.
Now, Cheyefsky’s version would’ve ended VERY darkly, which is my only proof that the reality we will witness tomorrow is FACT not Hollywood fiction, but I still can’t help but feel that “we”, the media, are primarily to blame for a significant percentage of the anxiety you may feel on a daily basis.
For that, someone owes you an apology and so, short of any other someone to come forward (certainly not Ned Beatty’s Arthur Jensen) and express it, I offer up my own, “I’m sorry.”
I’m sorry “we” so pitifully and utterly let you down these last eight years.
I’m sorry for the BLOCKBUSTER 3 and the DANCING WITH THE WASHED UPS and the cable network SITUATION ROAD TO THE LETS PLAY HARDBALL, which defines everything, even war, as a game with a score.
Beyond that, I leave you with the words of a much better writer who understood, using as his muse the bat-shit-crazy news anchor Howard Beale, what it takes for any of us to cut through the intentional numbing that “the show” is intended to produce.
Beale: I don’t have to tell you things are bad. 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; shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter; punks are running wild in the street, and there’s nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there’s no end to it.
We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat. And we sit watching our TVs while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be!
We all know things are bad — worse than bad — they’re crazy.
It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don’t go out any more. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we’re living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, “Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials, and I won’t say anything. Just leave us alone.”
Well, I’m not going to leave you alone.
I want you to get mad!
I don’t want you to protest. I don’t want you to riot. I don’t want you to write to your Congressman, 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 Russians and the crime in the street.
All I know is that first, you’ve got to get mad.
You’ve gotta say, “I’m a human being, goddammit! My life has value!”
So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out and yell,
“I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!!”