Howard Beale.. a middle aged man facing termination decides he is tired of the media act and wants to get to the real truth. This central idea drives the rest of the movie. So let’s dive in.
I chose to answer question 8 and question 3.
8. Arthur Jensen the corporate CEO, tells Howard that, “The world is a business … It has been since man crawled out of the slime.” What are your opinions and impressions of that speech, delivered near the end of the film by Jensen, played by Ned Beatty?
Arthur Jensen paints a picture of society and the world as one gigantic business or collection of businesses all fighting to have the most chips in their hand when push comes to shove. In all honesty, although this is a very dramatic example, therein lies quite a lot of truth. The big businesses of the world hold the power no matter how much the government attempts to regulate them. The government itself acts as big business just so it can participate in the collection of money.
Furthermore, money is the driving force behind all of the global trade that happens. Whoever is at the top is not the one with the most people, it is always the one with the most money. Because in the equation of the world, money=power. Along that line of thinking, if the average joe makes close to nothing in comparison to these superpowers, then how are we able to have a voice? Howard Beale took the TV set and made his voice louder because he could broadcast to millions of people rather than the small circle of influence a regular person might have. This begs to question how one person might be able to have a louder voice if they are not broadcast to millions or if he or she doesn’t have a million dollars sitting in his or her pockets.
Using this picture of who has money and who doesn’t as the picture of who has the right to speak and who doesn’t draws a very fine parallel. There are the few anomalies who were so different, they created a voice for themselves through action rather than possession. Aside from these outliers, the world does seem to follow a flow of money rather than the flow of human thought. I’ve seen in it my everyday life. Making web designs for big business owners while I watch their philanthropy allow them to talk to people I would never have an opportunity to speak to without having my pockets full. Which forces us to be different. Howard Beale was different. How can we be different?
3. In one of the first scenes, Howard and Max joke about programming a “Death Hour” on television. Giving specific details and examples, discuss the various ways this could be seen as prophetic given today’s movies and television programming.
Using the term “Death Hour” to describe the news may seem a little harsh, until you consider the contents of the news at 5 o’clock. Statistically speaking, the news usually reports more on poor happenings rather than uplifting and encouraging things happening in local areas. It’s hard to completely blame the news for reporting like this though. The market of average viewers shows that negative news is far more popular than mostly positive or neutral information.
The most popular movies in today’s society seem to be the ones with the shock and awe factor. “Did you see how many guys he killed?”, or “I never knew the war was that bad!” and so on. Violence makes it’s way into most movies and TV shows almost to the point where it becomes expected and we become desensitized to it. So then the producers have to make it more gruesome and more shocking or it won’t get played. For example, Break Bad just had it’s finale–this is a show about people who cook meth and kill or stop anyone who gets in their way and they are glorified for it all in the name of “the wrong place at the wrong time.” Viewers took a hold of these characters and became far more accepting of the lifestyle that was portrayed.
As I have sat there watching the show, I realize that after I’m done, I have a sense of morality that died a little and I notice it. This happens to everyone over and over until it becomes old hat. So maybe “Death Hour” isn’t as harsh as it initially seems. After you compare what you see to what it used to be, this description doesn’t seem so inaccurate. So next time you watch the news or settle down to enjoy your favorite show, take a moment to think about what it represents.