The natural order of things, Mr Beale!

I watched, the other day, Network, a 1976 film with Peter Finch and Faye Dunaway – among others – telling the story about a fictional UBS TV network programme and the struggle for securing TV shares and ratings.

This film is remarkable in many ways. The aspect that interests me here, however, hasn’t to do with ratings and that.

It’s, instead, the ideological content that this film – in such an exemplary and funny way – puts into Ned Beatty‘s character’s (Mr Jenson) harangue to Mr Beale (Finch’s character).
I have transcribed the relevant part below here for your convenience (booby-trap words highlighted in bold by myself and the most notable statements are underlined).

Mr JENSON speaking:

You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, Mr Beale.
And I won’t have it! Is that clear?

You think you have 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 a 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, multi-variate, multinational dominion of dollars.

Petrol 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, sub-atomic and galactic structure of things today!

And you have meddled with the primal forces of nature! And you will atone!

Am I getting through to you, Mr Beale?

You get up on your little 21″ screen and haul about America and democracy.
There is no America.
There is no democracy.
There is only IBM and ITT and ATT and Dupont, Dow, Union Carbide and Exxon.
Those are the nations of 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, min-max solutions and computable 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 the slime.

And our children will live, Mr Beale, to see that perfect world in which there is 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 tranquillized, all boredom amused

And I have chosen you, Mr Beale, to preach this evangel.

Mr BEALE speaking:

Why me?

Mr JENSON speaking:

Because you’re on television, dummy.

So there you have it, a great example of someone establishing a quick and cheap ideology.

This is a remarkable piece of dialogue for any film.

It’s also worth noting that – while the ideology is defined and exposed, the speech itself denies the existence of ideologies!

Not unlike the Devil denying the existence of itself, in order to more easily establish its schemes.

Absolutely remarkable!

While Dunaway’s and Finch’s performances granted them a well deserved Oscar each, the dialogue itself is worthy of one in its own right.

A film not to be missed!