Intro by Brandon
Are you mad as hell? Are you not going to take it anymore? You can bet a lot of people today are, and a lot of that stems from news networks that have turned journalism into loaded commentary. That right there is why Network, a 1976 film about the television industry, is still relevant. For many today, favorite political commentators are viewed as religious figures. In this era of Fox News and sensationalized media, Network is the satirical comedy we need.
The plot follows Howard Beale, an aging television news anchor, as he finds out that he is being unceremoniously fired at the end of the week. He resolves to kill himself live on the air. And then he announces that he’s going to kill himself live on the air. And then he starts ranting and raving about all the bullshit he has to deal with, and they keep putting him back on the air because he gives voice to the anger so many people had. He gets his own show to talk about how fucked up society is, and audiences eat it up, and things keep spiraling out of control as he gains more and more viewers, and HOLY SHIT this movie is bananas!
There’s a lot to talk about here, especially since Howard Beale is pretty much explicitly stated in the film to have a mental illness. Maria spends some time talking about the exploitation of mental illness in the entertainment industry. I take a look at why angry news is so popular and what anger does to our perception of the truth. We also talk about that Hollywood trope where young women end up with old men, because, eugh, that’s pretty creepy.
So settle in, get mad as hell, and get ready for Maria and I to not take it anymore in this oddly relevant episode of Peculiar Picture Show, the podcast that talks about movies, maladies, and mental health.
General: Absurd and oddly prescient
Brandon: Huge impact when it first came out, and then people thought it was no longer relevant, but now more relevant than ever; forgot about the absurdity in this movie; the first time, missed the romance to show generational divide, particularly in relation to TV/film, not just for romance
Maria: Director Sidney Lumet also directed Dog Day Afternoon, which has a similar style; first time seeing this; maybe loosely based Christine Chubbuck, a Sarasota news reporter who killed herself on air in 1974
Like: Satire done right, and some great performances
Brandon: Performances; some things were surprising this time around; subtlety; themes, like sensationalized media; 1970s raw style; fun; religious aspects
Maria: The message, like the blur between news and entertainment; absurdity, particularly at the end; performances; very 1970s
Dislike: A creepy age gap, and a bit slow
Brandon: The older man/younger woman relationship, particularly how they made the woman’s personality; understand how it can be boring; blind commentary on TV culture, which seemed outdated
Maria: The older man/younger woman relationship; wanted it to be more absurd in the beginning; a tad boring; not a good beginning
Brandon: Sensationalized media; research on how angry people are more susceptible to misinformation; capitalism as the new religion
Maria: Condemns the exploitation of people who are suffering and vulnerable; seems to simplify mental illness
I won’t say this movie tried to warn us, but this is a very neat summary of what’s going on….this was intended to be a satire and it’s so close to reality that it’s depressing now.
Keep fighting the good fight, people.