Sunday, November 27, 2016

As the Film "Network" Turns 40 Years Old

  • On Nov. 27, 1976, the film “Network”, written by Paddy Chayefsky, was released. Its story satirized the rise of sensationalized television news and focused on Howard Beale (played by Peter Finch) who 1) was a failing network news anchor, 2) announced that he would kill himself while on the air, 3) was repositioned as the “Mad Prophet of the Airways” and 4) memorably expresses his frustration with society with the catchphrase “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.”  
  • Beale also said “Television is not the truth, Television is a goddamn 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. So, if you want the truth, go to God, go to your gurus, go to yourselves. Because that’s the only place you’re going to find any real truth. You’re never going to get any truth from us. We’ll tell you anything you want to hear. We’ll lie like hell.”
  • And … “Less than 3 percent of you people read books. Less than 15 percent of you read newspapers, the only truth you know is what you get over this tube. Right now, there is an entire generation that never knew anything that didn’t come out of this tube. This tube is the gospel, the ultimate revelation. This tube can make or break presidents, popes, prime ministers. This tube is the most awesome goddamn force in the whole godless world, and woe is us if it ever falls into the hands of the wrong people.” 
  • Note: The film won Academy Awards for best actor, best actress, best supporting actress and original screenplay.   
  • CBS CEO Les Moonves (speaking at a Feb. 2016 Morgan Stanley investor conference) about Donald Trump’s campaign said, “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS”.
  • Financial Times U.S.  Managing Editor Gillian Tett last week said, “In political terms, a vote for Clinton seemed akin to eating spinachA vote for Trump, however, was more like eating ice-cream laced with whisky for breakfast — something that establishment people did not want to admit to.”
MY TAKE

  • Regarding “news as infotainment” - The Internet has become the new television and the infotainment problem seems to have increased, extending across many media distribution channels.
  • Regarding Les Moonves’s comment – It is likely that his view is shared across the industry.
  • Regarding Gillian Tett’s comment – Making you “feel good (or less bad)” rather that considering “what’s good for you” continues to drive many business and political endeavors.

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