howard beale

The Weekly Vent: I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more!

Those of you who, like me, are actually middle-aged probably recognize the tagline for my blog. It’s from the movie “Network”, made in 1976: a satire about the powerful media, mega corporations, financial manipulation and the choice between apathy or engagement. The central figure is middle-aged broadcaster Howard Beale, who restarts his failing network career meteorically as “the mad prophet of the airwaves.” In an iconic scene, he urges his viewers on live TV to go to their windows and shout “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more!”

I was a teenager in 1976, and I remember the sense of malaise. We had just come through one “oil crisis” and, though we didn’t know it, were headed for another. We had suffered through Watergate and massive disillusionment. Inflation ran amok and people like my parents, middle-aged at the time, despaired as they saw savings become meaningless and the cost of living seemingly escalate beyond their reach or control. Our great cities were failing. New York City came within a whisker of declaring bankruptcy. The culture wars were brewing and the idealistic flower children of the 1960s had morphed into the narcissistic “Me Generation” of the 1970s. Things were bad.

Since then, some things have gotten better and some have gotten worse. Continue reading