Not long ago I wrote about my favorite scene in the movie Network. I neglected to mention that there are actually two incredible speeches in the movie. The first has Howard Beale challenging us to throw open our windows and shout "I'm as Mad as Hell!", the second has the great Ned Beatty as Arthur Jensen, the chairman of the board of the company that owns Beale's network.
It seems Beale has been too successful at revealing the truth about how the world works and is starting to challenge the hidden masters ability to ply their trade. Rather than killing Beale or simply taking him off the air, Arthur Jensen believes he can convert the television prophet to his philosophy so he calls Howard Beale into his office to reveal the truth about how the world works.
What's great about this is that both men are telling the truth and both are right even though they're saying exactly the opposite things. The *truth* is so complex and so diaphanous that sometimes the only thing you can do is present both sides and let people's minds try and mingle the two together.
Arthur Jensen: I started as a salesman, Mr. Beale. I sold sewing machines and automobile parts, hair brushes and electronic equipment. They say I can sell anything. I'd like to try to sell something to you.
You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, Mr. Beale, and I won't have it! Is that clear?
You think you've merely stopped a business deal. That is not the case! The Arabs have taken billions of dollars out of this country, and now they must put it back! It is ebb and flow, tidal gravity! It is ecological balance!
You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations. There are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There are no third worlds. There is no West. There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multivariate, multinational dominion of dollars. Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, reichmarks, rins, rubles, pounds, and shekels. It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today. That is the atomic and subatomic and galactic structure of things today! And YOU have meddled with the primal forces of nature, and YOU...WILL...ATONE!
Am I getting through to you, Mr. Beale?
You get up on your little twenty-one inch screen and howl about America and democracy. There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM, and ITT, and AT&T, and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those *are* the nations of the world today.
What do you think the Russians talk about in their councils of state, Karl Marx? They get out their linear programming charts, statistical decision theories, minimax solutions, and compute the price-cost probabilities of their transactions and investments, just like we do.
We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr. Beale. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable bylaws of business. The world is a business, Mr. Beale. It has been since man crawled out of the slime. And our children will live, Mr. Beale, to see that . . . perfect world . . . in which there's no war or famine, oppression or brutality. One vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock. All necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused. And I have chosen you, Mr. Beale, to preach this evangel.
Howard Beale: Why me?
Arthur Jensen: Because you're on television, dummy. Sixty million people watch you every night of the week, Monday through Friday.
Howard Beale: I have seen the face of God.
Arthur Jensen: You just might be right, Mr. Beale.