Monday, July 10, 2006
So, my first thing to try out was the movie Network, which I'd been meaning to see for quite some time and am glad that I finally did. Even if you haven't actually seen (or even heard of) the movie, you've probably heard someone quote "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!" before, which comes from a pivotal scene in the movie.
Network is a dark comedy involving a newscaster on an ailing TV netowork, who is fired due to low ratings and subsequently goes crazy. But this craziness ends up being so good for ratings that he is actually kept on and encouraged in his ways. As it continues, things spiral more and more out of control, with trash being put above all else for the sake of ratings.
Lots of good acting, from Peter Finch who plays the insane newscaster who speaks more truth than most. William Holden plays his friend and former news department head, a flawed man who is having a middle-aged crisis, but still very sympathetic. Most interesting perhaps is Faye Dunaway's character, who brainstorms up most of the changes to the network. She is strikingly immoral in a number of ways and is basically the embodyment of what is wrong with TV and society in general, but she has just enough humanity to make the character more tragic than a simple characture.
What is really most frightening is just how much has come to pass since the movie was made in 1976. The nightly news on the major networks may still be relatively sane, but what about shows like Jerry Springer? Also, look at this conversation, a non-serious musing from early in the film:
Max Schumacher: We could make a series of it. "Suicide of the Week." Aw, hell, why limit ourselves? "Execution of the Week."
Howard Beale: "Terrorist of the Week."
Max Schumacher: I love it. Suicides, assassinations, mad bombers, Mafia hitmen, automobile smash-ups: "The Death Hour." A great Sunday night show for the whole family. It'd wipe that fuckin' Disney right off the air.
As a reviewer on IMDB mentioned, this sounds pretty familiar:
A few years back some network put exactly such a show - "Eye Witness Videos" - on the air. On Sunday night. In prime time.
It's always a bad sign when reality starts to conform to the vision of a black comedy from the past. While some parts of it will feel dated (fashion, technology, tv references, etc), I think it is really worth watching this movie. Almost all of us now were raised with "the tube" as a constant presence, and it is good to have something pointing out just how crazy things have become.
What else did I grab from the library? For DVDs, I Heart Huckabees, an Ansel Adams documentary, Pom Poko (one of the few Ghibli films I haven't seen yet), and the first Full Metal Alchemist DVD (have heard good things about this series).
For GNs, I got Swan #2 (I looove this series!), Dramacon #1, Runaways #1, Flight #2, WE3, Dungeon #1, Fray, and The Red Star #1. I've heard good things about all of these, so it should be a great couple of weeks as I burn through this stuff. I'll try to get some little reviews too.
Also, I'll have some more words on the unreality of TV relating to a recent appearance of yo-yos on TV.. It feels good to blog again, even if no one is reading anymore. Maybe this will help sort my thoughts out a bit.. :)