Monday, March 30, 2009

Ten Feet Off of Beale

According to the NY Times, Glenn Beck is the next big thing. Crazy is in this year! Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have been regularly skewering Mr. Beck (to hilarious effect), but it's my turn. From the Times:

In an interview, Mr. Beck, who recently rewatched the 1976 film “Network,” said he identified with the character of Howard Beale, the unhinged TV news anchorman who declares on the air that he is “mad as hell.”

“I think that’s the way people feel,” Mr. Beck said. “That’s the way I feel.”


Now, I have tried to refrain from mocking Glenn Beck. I mean, at this point, it's kind of cliche. I stood by and watched while he cried "socialism" where none exists. I stood back and watched while he just plain cried. But I will not stand back and let him lay claim to a character he clearly does not understand. No, this time I'm mad as Hell, and I'm not gonna take it anymore.

Beck claims he recently watched Network. While I don't see how anyone could enjoy that film and still work for Fox News (or any 24-hour network, really), I will trust that he actually saw it. This means he sat there and watched Howard Beale's "mad as Hell" speech, which he probably found inspiring (as the viewer is meant to). But he must have either fallen asleep, turned off his brain, or become too emotional to pay attention to what came next, because everyone who went to college and saw that movie knows that Beale becomes a parody of himself--selling out to the same corrupt establishment he first railed against. The network gives him his own show, in which he churns out daily sermons--each crazier than the last--to viewers who fastidiously consume them, as if they can make a difference by simply watching. Beale and his viewers are two sides of the same delusional coin, each sure that it matters, while those truly in charge slyly slide it into their pocket.

So what does Beck mean when he says he relates to Howard Beale? There are two options: one makes him an idiot, the other an evil genius. Either Beck does not understand Beale at all, and somehow considers the character a legitimate crusader for truth; or Beck understands Beale's crazed, corrupt self-delusion perfectly, and has correctly identified himself as its heir.

What do you think?

UPDATE: Stephen Colbert wins.

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8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Smart insight, well said.

3/30/2009 1:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Evil geniuses tend to be idiots, too.

3/30/2009 8:50 AM  
Blogger Patrick said...

Beck is an idiot.

3/30/2009 9:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and i said, "ma'am i aaaam toniiiiiiight!"

3/30/2009 10:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sure he is just mad as hell. I doubt he delved into the subtleties of Howard Beale before making the reference.

3/30/2009 11:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

11:14 majored in satire.

3/30/2009 8:56 PM  
Blogger DannyZ said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4/03/2009 7:58 PM  
Blogger DannyZ said...

I particularly liked his rant that went, "Believe in SOMETHING! Even if it is WRONG, believe in it!"

I have an idea to try, Glenn... how about, when you know "something" is wrong, you believe in "NOT something", or "the OPPOSITE of something"?

Seriously, what a boob.

4/03/2009 7:59 PM  

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