Monday, February 02, 2009

Thoughts on watching "Network" (1976)

Tonight I watched Network, after seeing it for the first time over 30 years ago. It is a powerful film with a brilliant script. So much of what was then scathing satire has now become commonplace. It is tempting to think that Arthur Jensen's sermon to Howard Beale--while dated--still is prophetic.

Then I remember today's OT reading, Deuteronomy 18:15-20. Reading further, to verse 22, Moses instructs the Israelites: "You may say to yourselves,'How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD?' If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously."

So, contrary to current appearances, this is what is true:

1) Not everything can be bought and sold.

2) The world is NOT a business.

3) The evangel is not that we are saved by they market, but rather that we are saved by Jesus Christ.

4) The totality of life on this planet is not determined by the international system of currency, or the banks, or the stock market, or the Fed, or Davos or any other financial tool or institution, but by
"one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live." (Today's NT reading, 1 Corinthians 8:1-13).

I believe that Arthur Jensen will someday be shown to be a false prophet. Do you?
Arthur Jensen: [bellowing] You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, Mr. Beale, and I won't have it! Is that clear? You think you've merely stopped a business deal. That is not the case! The Arabs have taken billions of dollars out of this country, and now they must put it back! It is ebb and flow, tidal gravity! It is ecological balance! You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations. There are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There are no third worlds. There is no West. There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multivariate, multinational dominion of dollars. Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, reichmarks, rins, rubles, pounds, and shekels. It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today. That is the atomic and subatomic and galactic structure of things today! And YOU have meddled with the primal forces of nature, and YOU...WILL...ATONE!
Arthur Jensen: [calmly] Am I getting through to you, Mr. Beale? You get up on your little twenty-one inch screen and howl about America and democracy. There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM, and ITT, and AT&T, and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those *are* the nations of the world today. What do you think the Russians talk about in their councils of state, Karl Marx? They get out their linear programming charts, statistical decision theories, minimax solutions, and compute the price-cost probabilities of their transactions and investments, just like we do. We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr. Beale. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable bylaws of business. The world is a business, Mr. Beale. It has been since man crawled out of the slime. And our children will live, Mr. Beale, to see that . . . perfect world . . . in which there's no war or famine, oppression or brutality. One vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock. All necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused. And I have chosen you, Mr. Beale, to preach this evangel.
Howard Beale: Why me?
Arthur Jensen: Because you're on television, dummy. Sixty million people watch you every night of the week, Monday through Friday.
Howard Beale: I have seen the face of God.
Arthur Jensen: You just might be right, Mr. Beale.

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