I saw Network when it was originally released in 1976. I was far too innocent, too naive, to fully appreciate Paddy Chayefsky’s brilliant screenplay, particularly the masterful scene between corporate mogul Arthur Jensen (Ned Beatty) and beaten-down newsman Howard Beale (Peter Finch). However, I implicitly understood that this was A Truth, albeit a bitter, destructive truth.
In the years since I’ve watched it easily a dozen times, and each time I come to the end and am still staggered by how prescient the film was. The rise of a fourth network capitalizing on blood, fear, hatred, and the stupidity of its audience could easily have been the blueprint for the founding of… well, it’s obvious.
The core, though, is much, much darker than that. At its heart, Network speaks to the inherent incompatibility between capitalism and democracy. This is a topic that’s been preying on my mind for the past few years, and one which isn’t likely to slip away any time soon.