mad as hell, sure, but yell MONEY IN POLITICS! BOUGHT CONGRESS!
by Molly C
If you watched Dylan Ratigan’s rant and compared it to Albert Finney’s “mad as hell” scene in the 1976 film Network, don’t forget the rest of the story. Finney’s populist rage makes him a hit on the network, giving its audience the angry mantra we repeat. But the climax takes place behind closed doors, when Finney takes on the corporation. As for his initial rage, the network capitalizes on its entertainment value, recruits more zany radicals, and scraps the news altogether. Watch the movie for the denouement (it’s great), but notice the “mad as hell” catharsis is swallowed into a much darker picture. It takes the whole plot structure for us to understand how the everyman’s alienated anger feeds the corporate structure that provokes it.
These are old lessons on co-optation of resistance, commercialization of counter-culture, and the murder of the newsroom. Ratigan’s more than just mad as hell: he’s yelling because there is nothing to say back to the money that runs Congress, from elections to committee chairs. Voters are mad as hell because they find their vote empty to hold their politicians accountable. Their protests aren’t covered by networks. There is not a debate to have when all the terms are bought.
The Network lesson (and we are desperate enough at the moment to listen): we don’t just yell because we’re angry and fed up with our own alienation. Our anger and our alienation have nothing to do with this kabuki democracy, if only as another Nike ad. We might just have to yell to notice they weren’t paying attention to us in the first place and start our own debate about why.