Visionary Writers of Books and Movies from Decades Ago

Recently, I was chatting in comments with my friend Sue Dreamwalker about one of her posts about the state of the world and what we have to do to help make it a better world. Something she said sparked a famous quote I still use from way back in 1976 from the movie Network, this classic, infamous line: “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore.”

The storyline back then, uncannily was written as fiction, but so fitting for current times. The basis of the story was a fictional news station – UBS Network during the 1970s when terrorism was the new up and coming violence that was high up in the news. The aging news anchor, Howard Beale, played by the iconic, Peter Finch, gets fired as the new dawn of ‘ratings on TV’ determine your worth as a news anchor.

During that era, there was plenty of turmoil going on, not unsimilar to today’s world – pre – our technology driven world where there were no tech devices and we relied on newspapers, radio and TV for world news. TV ratings became tied to profits with advertising being the bread and butter of revenues. This was also a time of no cable news outlets and a limited amount of national news stations.

Howard Beale becomes angry as he sees the writing on the wall, greed is taking over service and loyalty, as plenty of ugliness was going on at the time. Howard ultimately, goes on a tirade On Air, threatening to kill himself live on air, and subsequently, stirs up huge ratings. His famous quote from this tirade: “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.” Beale goes on to tell the audience how they are being duped with news that are lies and coverups, as sensationalism becomes a good hook for ratings.

Here a few more poignant quotes from some of Beale’s speeches:

“But, man, you’re never going to get any truth from us. We’ll tell you anything you want to hear; we lie like hell…”

“Right now, there is a whole, 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 propaganda force in the whole godless world, and woe is us if it ever falls into the hands of the wrong people…”

I rate this movie one of the greatest movies of the times that depicts humanity and greed, and is more than relevant today. Here’s the infamous scene below where Howard goes on a tirade, all the while Faye Dunaway, his boss, starts to get all excited because his wrath is great for their ratings. But he puts out a wake up call and the people respond: (Finch won an Academy Award particularly for this scene)

I find it almost frightening that quite a few books written back in the 70s and 80s in a fictionally created story, have come, and on their way to coming to fruition. 1984 by George Orwell, wrote essentially, about Big Brother. Margaret Atwood’s horrifying tale of the Handmaids is essentially, parallel to what’s happening in the US now with the crushing of Roe v. Wade and women’s rights.

And let’s go back further to Aldous Huxley’s, Brave New World, written in 1932, his most classic masterpiece that was mandatory reading in my high school. A story about world controllers said to be creating the perfect society through brain-washing and genetic engineering.

Not scary enough? How about Sinclair Lewis’s book – It Can’t Happen Here, a cautionary tale about how craftily a government gets taken over by fascism, and turns it into an authoritarian scary country all in the name of power and greed, demonstrating the fragility of democracy – also written back in 1938. Hmm, almost sounds like a scenario that tried to play out in 2020. Then there’s Ray Bradbury’s, Farenheit 451 where a fireman takes on destroying books in fears that people may learn too much and not be able to be controlled. Hmm, again.

Those are just a few books to mention, then referred to as dystopian genre, but if you go read reviews on these books where people who’ve read them decades ago, as well as the younger generation reading now, there is a common thread in comments, and that is the revelation that these stories were written so long ago as fiction and are becoming real life, and all generations are relating the same, collectively.

Did all these writers write about their fears of the future, or for sheer entertainment?

I’m an addict when it comes to reading reviews. I read reviews for everything I buy online, most especially books. Perhaps, that’s why I enjoy writing reviews. If you learn to take the majority of reviews as relevant and honest opinion, and also read the one and two star reviews, we usually find that the majority of the reviews will give a truthful opinion and review. You will also find, on a mostly 5 star rated book that has a few low star reviews, those reviews are usually, nonsensical or irrelevant. Many uneducated reviewers will rate an author’s work or a product with low stars because they are pissed at their untimely or shabby delivery of the product. This has nothing to do with the book or the product, yet seeds doubt in a potential buyer’s thoughts.

But I digress, and wanted to leave you here with some comments people left on the video clip above of Howard Beale’s madness speech:

The comments I’ve chosen to share below are just a few of the over 4400 comments on the video, and most of them all saying the same in personal ways:

“Is it weird that this made my cry? The energy is so contagious”

“God this scene is so relevant in today climate!”

“America in 2020: “I’m apathetic as hell and I’ll take whatever you give me as long as I have my Netflix.”

“This is exactly the problem, people think that just being mad and telling everybody and then going and sitting back down in your armchairs is gonna fix anything. Don’t tell people you’re mad, do something about it”

“One of the greatest movies ever made! So prophetic, so relevent, so true. From 1976. We are living this right now!”

“Tears in my eyes because this is so close to truth. I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.”

“45 years later, still feels relevant, arguably even more so now.”

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“If you ask me. I certainly think it’s time we all start getting ‘mad as hell’ and get educated on what is happening in our world.”

“He won the Oscar for this scene alone.”

“I remember when this aired on tv. My kids went to the window without me knowing it and they started yelling that they were as mad as hell and weren’t going to take it anymore. Then, slowly from one neighborhood to the next the chorus was taken up, dogs started barking and you could here the kids laughing from one house to another. Will never forget. Hard to believe it has been 44 years ago that happened.”

“This is with no doubt one of the best speeches in the whole history of cinema. What a goosebumping performance!!!”

“Just one of the greatest movies ever made. Still as relevant today as it ever was. Everyone needs to watch it”

“How did so many of the cautionary tales from the 20th century, end up becoming the instruction manuals for the 21st?”

“One of the greatest movies ever made! So prophetic, so relevent, so true. From 1976. We are living this right now!”

..

Personally, I think we should all, collectively, be mad as hell and take heed to truth, compassion, and be doing good things to make the world and this planet a better place to live in, not just for ourselves, but for the generation(s) that will follow.

©DGKaye2022