...And I'm Not Going To Take It Anymore!
That's the infamous shout out of Howard Beale to his legion of devoted viewers who discovered in this aged newsman for a mythical network called UBS (Union Broadcasting System), a new messiah, a modern day prophet. Beale is the focal point of the movie Network written by Paddy Chayefsky. Beale attracts an enthusiastic audience when in a fit of depression and knowing he will soon be fired, he threatens to kill himself on the air. Instead of seeing that he gets the care he needs, some of his bosses notice that the ratings went up and arrange for Beale to get a regular gig where he speaks the truth as he knows.
|Peter Finch in his Academy Award Winning role as Howard Beale|
I bring this up for two reasons. One reason is that I recently saw Network again after many many years, long enough to forget all but a few key sequences. Many of the debates about real life and life as spun on television I had forgotten, but that material really struck a chord with me as I reflect on the seemingly endless political race we are currently enduring.
Donald Trump, a product of TV, a character really who defines himself by his ability to succeed as he determines it, seems to me at once like Beale and also like the executives who exploit him. In "The Donald" we have the absolute apotheosis of what the movie Network described, an individual who utterly defines himself by the tropes and storytelling devices of television. And also we have a man who is completely and utterly defined by winning, whatever that might mean. He seems to want to win the election first and foremost while being President is at this point a remote afterthought.