Wednesday, July 18, 2007


The Book I Write's own Kath Weems mentioned to me last night that she was watching one of my favorite movies: Network. I got to thinking today that Network's oft quoted line "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore" evokes in me a sense of bittersweet nostalgia. Bear in mind I wasn't alive during our nation's more politically charged decades, but culling what I can from various newsreels, accounts, even the fiction of America's past paints a strikingly different picture of this country's willpower, its drive, its purpose. While reading People's History of the United States, you come across tales of workers' rebellions, fights for equality, demonstrations of our collective need to have our voices heard. From the perspective of a 21st century human, all of that conviction seems futile and quaint. Really? In America? Citizens giving a shit? Impossible.

And this loss of conviction among the masses isn't a result of a loss of power. The same forces who ruled the populous from America's inception are still present and they're still scared of that body's potential to coagulate and grow. Unfortunately they've gotten adept at diffusing and diluting the frustration and energy of the people. Why should I care about my fellow man when I have a flat screen TV? Why should I pay extra taxes for national health care so some deadbeat can prosper from my obligatory charity? All I want to do is go to work, go home, turn on the game and have a beer. And the minute, opiate net of distraction tightens its plush leather hold all the while whispering the incessant mantra of fearmongers and kings into your ear. Everything's ok inside the net.

There used to be a time that when we were getting fucked, we'd get angry. And we'd unite. In a country where everything's been bought and sold since the beginning and the voice of the people probably didn't really matter anyway, the ability to unite was our only power. People would DIE rather than suffer mistreatment. This no longer applies to the modern American. When the government unzips his trousers and fires that expectant glare in our direction, we bend ourselves over the bed and take what's coming to us. Because that's how we keep our plasma TV. That's how we maintain that modest income. That's how we insure our own safety in a country we've been told is filled with danger and sin.

With that in mind, I give you a snippet of Howard Beale's speech from Network. This was 31 years ago. As George Carlin says, "When's this shit going to end? When's this shit going to go away?":

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 work, banks are going bust, shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there's nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there's no end to it. We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TV's while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that's the way it's supposed to be. We know things are bad - worse than bad. They're crazy. It's like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don't go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, 'Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won't say anything. Just leave us alone.' Well, I'm not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get mad! I don't want you to protest. I don't want you to riot - I don't want you to write to your congressman 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 Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you've got to get mad.

You've got to say, 'I'm a HUMAN BEING, Goddamnit! My life has VALUE!' So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell,



Kath said...

Well done, Gforce.

Sunnie said...

I completely agree. The apathy of our fellow Americans is appalling.