As a self confessed conservative curmudgeon I prefer not to watch movies made after 1962. But one exception is the 1976 classic Network. Not because it is so pre-1962; in fact it is replete with all the things that I find offensive and unentertaining in post-1962 movies. But they are not shown gratuitously to build box office by appealing to prurient interests, but to reinforce the story line. If you have never watched the movie, spoilers may follow and you should consider streaming it before proceeding.
Howard Beall Donald Trump has brought UBS to the people or perhaps the the people are so ready for UBS that they drafted Donald Trump. Peggy Noonan has accredited this reality for the establishment in her column (behind paywall) this week.
The cost of Trump is that he turns it all into “Survivor.” That trivializes serious candidates…Journalists are now acclimating themselves to this new reality. A few months ago they thought Mr. Trump and reality TV were climbing over the wall trying to get into the real world of politics. Now they realize it’s journalists trying to climb over the wall into the new world of reality TV. That is now the real world of politics.
I sit in awe of how Paddy Chayefsky could have seen the future so clearly 40 years ago. How he bridged the Golden Age of television to the tarnished age of Hollywood is a testament to his genius.
But it need not be so if one of the qualified candidates could bring her(him)self to slap the moderator and say:
You’re television incarnate, Jake: Indifferent to suffering; insensitive to joy. All of life is reduced to the common rubble of banality. War, murder, death are all the same to you as bottles of beer. And the daily business of life is a corrupt comedy. You even shatter the sensations of time and space into split seconds and instant replays. You’re madness, Jake. Virulent madness. And everything you touch dies with you. But not me. I’m here to discuss the issues that will determine whether this nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure.
There are a lot of candidates on that stage who could rise to the occasion and break out of the death spiral our national debate has entered. It’s time for a grown up to tell the people that reality TV is not reality. Shark Tank is not how investing really works. We need not accept a Hobbesian island as a metaphor for life. But none have.
I’m not madder than Hell. I despair.