Thursday, May 21, 2015


The Genius of Paddy Chayefsky


The genius of Paddy Chayefsky never ceases to impress me.  It is worth rereading one speech of the Howard Beale character from the movie Network, for it is as timeless as Dickens' opening line in "A Tale of Two Cities." 

From the screenplay:
and, suddenly, the obsessed face of HOWARD BEALE,
gaunt, haggard, red-eyed with unworldly fervor, hair
streaked and plastered on his brow, manifestly mad,

 I don't have to tell you things
 are bad.  Everybody knows things
 are bad.  It's a depression.
 Everybody's out of work or scared
 of losing their job, the dollar
 buys a nickel's worth, banks are
 going bust, shopkeepers keep a
 gun under the counter, punks
 are running wild in the streets,
 and there's nobody anywhere who
 seems to know what to do, and
 there's no end to it.  We know
 the air's unfit to breathe and
 our food is unfit to eat, and
 we sit and watch our tee-vees
 while some local newscaster
 tells us today we had fifteen
 homicides and sixty-three
 violent crimes, as if that's
 the way it's supposed to be.
 We all know things are bad.
 Worse than bad.  They're crazy.
 It's like everything's going
 crazy.  So we don't go out any
 more.  We sit in the house, and
 slowly the world we live in
 gets smaller, and all we ask is

 please, at least leave us alone
 in our own living rooms.  Let me
 have my toaster and my tee-vee
 and my hair-dryer and my steel-
 belted radials, and I won't say
 anything, just leave us alone.
 Well, I'm not going to leave you
 alone.  I want you to get mad --

ANOTHER ANGLE showing the rapt attention of the PEOPLE
in the control room, especially of DIANA --

 I don't want you to riot.  I
 don't want you to protest.  I
 don't want you to write your
 congressmen.  Because I wouldn't
 know what to tell you to write.
 I don't know what to do about the
 depression and the inflation and
 the defense budget and the Russians
 and crime in the street.  All
 I know is first you got to get
 mad.  You've got to say:  "I'm
 mad as hell and I'm not going
 to take this any more.  I'm a
 human being, goddammit.  My life
 has value."  So I want you to
 get up now.  I want you to get
 out of your chairs and go to
 the window.  Right now.  I want
 you to go to the window, open
 it, and stick your head out
 and yell.  I want you to yell:
 "I'm mad as hell and I'm not
 going to take this any more!"
What has changed since 1976 beyond the more thorough 
saturation of corruption? It's as if time stood still, 
and everything has been a prelude to something greater
that is yet to come. 
We're all waiting.  I don't know if we're ready.

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