Network: the last great film about media

Network: the last great film about media

Diana the Huntress, Queen of Television News

by Jon Rappoport

June 4, 2015


“You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, Mr. Beale, and I won’t have it!! Is that clear?!… 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, to Howard Beale, “Network,” 1976)

In the brilliant 1976 film, Network, written by Paddy Chayefsky, the programming head of a giant television network, Diana Christensen, shifts the whole news department over to the entertainment division.

Thus emerge new shows with galloping ratings: Howard Beale, Prophet of the Air Waves; The Mao Tse-Tung Hour, in which a guerrilla group films itself carrying out armed bank robberies; and Sybil the Soothsayer, a Tarot reader.

Diana becomes the network’s new executive star.

There is no longer even a pretense of a need for news anchors to appear authoritative, objective, or rational.

Diana Christensen is unstoppable. She sees, with burning clarity, that audiences are bored to the point of exhaustion; they now require, as at the end of the Roman Empire, extreme entertainment. They want more crime, more violence, more insanity, out in the open. On television.

In promoting her kind of news division, she tells network executives:

“Look, we’ve got a bunch of
hobgoblin radicals called the
Ecumenical Liberation Army who
go around taking home movies
of themselves robbing banks.
Maybe they’ll take movies of
themselves kidnapping heiresses,
hijacking 747’s, bombing bridges,
assassinating ambassadors.
We’d open each week’s segment
with that authentic footage,
hire a couple of writers to
write some story behind that
footage, and we’ve got
ourselves a series…

“Did you see the overnights on the
Network News? It has an 8 in New
York and a 9 in L.A. and a 27 share
in both cities. Last night, Howard
Beale went on the air [as a newscaster] and yelled
bullshit for two minutes, and I
can tell you right now that tonight’s
show will get a 30 share at least.
I think we’ve lucked into something…

“I see Howard Beale as a latter-day
prophet, a magnificent messianic
figure, inveighing against the
hypocrisies of our times, a strip
Savonarola, Monday through Friday.
I tell you, Frank, that could just
go through the roof…Do you want to figure out
the revenues of a strip show that
sells for a hundred thousand bucks
a minute? One show like that could
pull this whole network right out
of the hole! Now, Frank, it’s being
handed to us on a plate; let’s not
blow it!”

Television in the “real world” isn’t all the way there yet, but it’s getting there.

In Network, Diana Christensen personifies the news. She is the electric, thrill-seeking, non-stop force that is terrified of silence.

She is walking talking hyperactivity. Sudden shifts. Her affairs with men are brief and inconsequential. She moves on.

She lives and feeds on adrenaline. So does the viewing public. Overnight TV-show ratings reflect that fact.

Nothing else ultimately matters. Ratings are the top line and the bottom line. The individual and his thoughts are completely irrelevant.

Since television is the arch mass-medium, the mass reaction is calculated according to lowest common denominator, and by that standard the most extreme shows are courted.

Shock, violence, crime. Howard Beale, unhinged, a news man screaming about the insanity of the news, is perfectly acceptable, because the audience is simply responding to Beale’s inchoate outrage and their own. Nothing deeper is needed. What could have resulted in a true rebellion is short-circuited. Beale becomes a crazy loon, a novelty item. Yet one more distraction.

When, in a brief interlude of clarity, he begins telling his audience about the takeover of society by mega-corporations, his show droops. Ratings collapse. Diana is no longer interested in him; she wants to sack him.

However, Arthur Jensen, the head of the corporation that owns the television network wants to keep Beale on the air, as a messenger of the “galactic truth” about the beneficial integration of all human activity under the rubric of global money and global power. He converts Beale to his cause.

Diana sees only one way out of this ratings disaster: kill Beale; on air; during his show. And so it is done.

Network also shows us the audience becoming actor, player, participant. The audience is jumping out of its skin to be recognized, courted, adored as a mighty rolling force embodying no particular meaning.

Audience wants to be a star. Audience wants coverage. Audience wants its actions to be shown on television. That establishes its legitimacy. Nothing else is necessary.

Diana knows it, and she is more than willing to accommodate this frantic desire, if only her bosses will let her go all the way. She sees the journey from anonymity to fame can be achieved in a matter of minutes. She can arrange it.

The parallels between Network and the current state of mass/electronic media are numerous. Most importantly, the governments of “advanced” countries realize they can cement their control by dealing with their populations as groups.

Groups who are government-dependent, groups who demand special treatment, groups who insist on being heard, groups who want in on the action as players.

In this sense, governments are media companies. They give coverage. They give access. They grant popularity. They do this with full knowledge that they are staging charades. Authentic power will never be on the table—only the appearance, not the real thing.

This is how mass-media operate. They give fluff and sugar, which soon melt and vanish. It’s a magic trick.

Layers and layers of promise and distraction. Here one minute, gone the next.

The people, momentarily assuaged and victorious, are left holding the bag.

On to the next story, next show, next audience-rating report.

Hooray for Hollywood.

“Poetry and the arts can’t exist in America. Mere exposure to the arts does nothing for a mentality which is incorrigibly dialectical… The young today cannot follow narrative but they are alert to drama. They cannot bear description but they love landscape and action… Ads represent the main channel of intellectual and artistic effort in the modern world… After childhood, the senses specialize via the channels of dominant technologies and social weaponries.” (Marshall McLuhan)

power outside the matrix

Modern media are not only the landscape, they are shaping how reality is perceived. Generations of people are now prepared to believe that all events lead to new chapters of a drama without any conceptual reference whatsoever.

This is why people are more and more determined to get their news from video rather than the written word. They feel they are watching a show. The show will continue. There is no need to stop and consider what the show means.

The show will “explain” itself eventually, as any story does. This is the new meaning of the term “dialectical”: a process by which the story adds detail and more detail and arrives at a payoff.

Viewing the payoff frees the audience from having to remember the whole story. The story is just another experience, heightened by the fact that tensions and conflicts are portrayed and then somehow “resolved.”

Having that experience is also the new meaning of “knowledge.”

“I watch, I absorb, I digest; therefore, I know.”

This is the century of osmosis.

Osmosis is an exchange between programmed entities. In this case, we are talking about an exchange/embrace between the human mind and invented external reality—and that is the starting point of the Matrix.

Jon Rappoport

The author of three explosive collections, THE MATRIX REVEALED, EXIT FROM THE MATRIX, and POWER OUTSIDE THE MATRIX, Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. He maintains a consulting practice for private clients, the purpose of which is the expansion of personal creative power. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world. You can sign up for his free emails at or OutsideTheRealityMachine.

9 comments on “Network: the last great film about media

  1. Gökmen says: Is all I can say.
    This is one of the most powerful I read from Jon.
    From what I understand since I start this journey, human consciousness devolved gradually on this planet. Best example I can think of: words replacing and somehow some symbols representing the reality. Now at this day and age, rabbit hole is deeper, meaning this replacement is so deep, so complex and so developed by any means, that people can not even grasp the basics and think this is just an idea, a creation, they are lost in it completely. Completely devoured by it. Wow. That is indeed the starting point of the matrix and indeed, the basis of the matrix, the constructed reality is ones and zeroes, symbols. Almost similar to the physical reality, you only can reach smaller parts of atom if you try to go down to smallest parts in reality.

    Without creative power and awareness of the individual: everything is meaningless. Good luck looking for all those smaller parts and try figuring all out..and if that sense of individuality, fake creativity is fed to you from some tube, some images…. you are introuble. shit.. I just figured out all those people out there never aged. Most people are like, never born.

  2. ozziethinker says:

    With so much focus on negativity, Jon, I have decided to “turn a corner” (to quote GW Bush) in my latest post.

    It’s only when you attempt to write meaningful fiction, you realise how difficult it is. Nevertheless, this, even if I say it myself, though different to the beautifully constructed strident harmonies above, hits a chord….


  3. middleway says:

    Seemingly trapped in a Global Village while surfing through the Gutenberg Galaxy. Happy trails…

  4. Michael Burns says:

    McLuhan and his statement of fact, ‘the Medium is the Message’. Has always stimulated deeper thoughts. As in the how the specific frequencies of Media are broadcast. In the beginnning days of analog signals and VHF, AM and FM bands in radio and television, the human voice is an analog signal. To the present digital signals which are finite, precise in their broadcast.

    As of 2010, roughly, there is no more broadcast of analog television or radio.

    Analog is a higher resolution signal, probably infinite in resolution but the possibility for degradation is much greater. Back ground or copying can degrade it. Over the long term.
    Digital is exact, a precise, and at a much lower resolution, and extremely high frequency less likely to degrade. It is at a finite resolution.  A digital signal is a precise signal and it can be copied and recopied from copied copies. And still retain that exact message. The perfect entrainment tool.

    As greater and greater amounts of information can be squeezed into smaller and much smaller spaces. The possibility for the signal to carry more than simply video or audio information, Information embeded in the television program. Embeded information designed to be picked up at lower frequencies that relate to sleep or dreaming in the human being or to hypnosis, or hypnotic state.

    We are now far in advance of a signal than be individualized and sent on/within the television signal, and having that signal received in a room full of viewers and the ebbed message reaching its intented. Rather than the auduence of the whole room.

    With the Washington Post in reinventing itself, individualizing the front page for each of its subscribers. Now we can individualize television, radio, any media as a matter of fact, for each viewer.
    The ‘medium is the message’, the ridiculous little show is irrelevant to the real message.
    As this media becomes more profound, exempli gratia., holograms, virtual reality etc. Advancing technologies; a singular information beamed directly to an single brain.
    It will become normal for prisoners to be induced into a sleep, a dreaming within a dream frequency, virtual reality, truly separate rality.
    And for that fact, whole societies to be induced into a virtual reality.
    Maybe…that what is happening right now.
    Art is/has become a group thing, the art of the group mind.

    • ozziethinker says:


      Now we step into my arena. With the Draco reputation for channelling fear [or anger] and the Zeta’s channelling of love only strong individuals can separate the “synthetic” from reality. Humans need to wise up. All kinds of freaky stuff is coming our way and, soon, we won’t be able to distinguish what is “up” and what is “down”.

      • Gökmen says:

        You all saw this new statue in germany of manning (now chelsea after sex change), snowden and assange, 3 of them standing up on their feet and 4th chair is empty for ‘anyone’ to speak out right?

        I mean…man, I’m just lost for words after seeing that. I mean where to start here…an empty chair for ‘free speech’. “there you go, you are free on that chair, now be nice and make sure that doesn’t take much time, people waiting in line…HEY! Don’t forget to put that selfie on your social media”

  5. Casper says:

    I give you a prediction of what will happen with the current “Main Stream Media” and “Alternative Media”.

    When the MSM juggernaut realizes that “Alternative Media” is the new boom, they will infiltrate and pounce upon this opportunity just like in the film.

    Just like BigPharma is now infiltrating “Organic”, and “Gluten Free”.

    Now you can buy shampoo, or bricks at the hardware store that are gluten free for pete’s sake.

    The MSM will infiltrate and pollute Alternative Media, just like they infiltrate and pollute everything else they touch.

    The days are numbered for wonderful blogs like this.

    • Michael Burns says:

      The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. 

      All that is needed for the forces of evil to triumph is for enough good men to do nothing. 

      All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing. 

      In order for ‘evil’ to prevail, all that need happen is for ‘good’ people to do nothing. 

      All that is needed for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing. 

      The surest way for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing. 

      All it will take for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing. 

      All that is necessary for the forces of evil to take root in the world is for enough good men to do nothing. 

      All that is needed for the forces of evil to succeed is for enough good men to remain silent. 

      All it takes for Evil to prevail in this world is for enough good men to do nothing. 

      The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

  6. Casey says:

    Jon Rappoport – always on point.
    Hollywood today never knew Chayefsky.
    Someone forward this to Rob Reiner (meathead).

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