Peter Finch: Howard Beale
Howard Beale : I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It's a depression. Everybody's out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel's worth, banks are going bust, shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there's nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there's no end to it. We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TVs while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that's the way it's supposed to be. We know things are bad - worse than bad. They're crazy. It's like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don't go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, 'Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won't say anything. Just leave us alone.' Well, I'm not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get mad! I don't want you to protest. I don't want you to riot - I don't want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write. I don't know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you've got to get mad. You've got to say, 'I'm a HUMAN BEING, God damn it! My life has VALUE!' So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, 'I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!' I want you to get up right now, sit up, go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell - 'I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!' Things have got to change. But first, you've gotta get mad!... You've got to say, 'I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!' Then we'll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it: "I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!"
Howard Beale : [laughing to himself] But, man, you're never going to get any truth from us. We'll tell you anything you want to hear; we lie like hell. We'll tell you that, uh, Kojak always gets the killer, or that nobody ever gets cancer at Archie Bunker's house, and no matter how much trouble the hero is in, don't worry, just look at your watch; at the end of the hour he's going to win. We'll tell you any shit you want to hear. We deal in *illusions*, man! None of it is true! But you people sit there, day after day, night after night, all ages, colors, creeds... We're all you know. You're beginning to believe the illusions we're spinning here. You're beginning to think that the tube is reality, and that your own lives are unreal. You do whatever the tube tells you! You dress like the tube, you eat like the tube, you raise your children like the tube, you even *think* like the tube! This is mass madness, you maniacs! In God's name, you people are the real thing! *WE* are the illusion! So turn off your television sets. Turn them off now. Turn them off right now. Turn them off and leave them off! Turn them off right in the middle of the sentence I'm speaking to you now! TURN THEM OFF...
[collapses in a prophetic swoon as the audience erupts in thunderous applause]
Arthur Jensen : 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! 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.
Howard Beale : I want you to go to the window, open it, stick your head out and yell: "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore."
Howard Beale : Good evening. Today is Wednesday, September the 24th, and this is my last broadcast. Yesterday I announced on this program that I was going to commit public suicide, admittedly an act of madness. Well, I'll tell you what happened: I just ran out of bullshit. Am I still on the air? I really don't know any other way to say it other than I just ran out of bullshit. Bullshit is all the reasons we give for living. And if we can't think up any reasons of our own, we always have the God bullshit. We don't know why we're going through all this pointless pain, humiliation, decays, so there better be someone somewhere who does know. That's the God bullshit. And then, there's the noble man bullshit; that man is a noble creature that can order his own world; who needs God? Well, if there's anybody out there that can look around this demented slaughterhouse of a world we live in and tell me that man is a noble creature, believe me: That man is full of bullshit. I don't have anything going for me. I haven't got any kids. And I was married for thirty-three years of shrill, shrieking fraud. So I don't have any bullshit left. I just ran out of it, you see.
Howard Beale : Right now, there is a whole, an entire generation that never knew anything that didn't come out of this tube. This tube is the gospel, the ultimate revelation; this tube can make or break presidents, popes, prime ministers; this tube is the most awesome goddamn propaganda force in the whole godless world, and woe is us if it ever falls into the hands of the wrong people, and that's why woe is us that Edward George Ruddy died. Because this company is now in the hands of CCA, the Communications Corporation of America; there's a new chairman of the board, a man called Frank Hackett, sitting in Mr. Ruddy's office on the twentieth floor. And when the 12th largest company in the world controls the most awesome goddamn propaganda force in the whole godless world, who knows what shit will be peddled for truth on this network?
Howard Beale : [arms outstretched to the heavens] Edward George Ruddy died today! Edward George Ruddy was the Chairman of the Board of the Union Broadcasting Systems, and he died at eleven o'clock this morning of a heart condition, and woe is us! We're in a lot of trouble!
Howard Beale : [calmly strolling toward the audience] So. A rich little man with white hair died. What has that got to do with the price of rice, right? And *why* is that woe to us? Because you people, and sixty-two million other Americans, are listening to me right now. Because less than three percent of you people read books! Because less than fifteen percent of you read newspapers! Because the only truth you know is what you get over this tube. Right now, there is a whole, an entire generation that never knew anything that didn't come out of this tube! This tube is the Gospel, the ultimate revelation. This tube can make or break presidents, popes, prime ministers... This tube is the most awesome God-damned force in the whole godless world, and woe is us if it ever falls in to the hands of the wrong people, and that's why woe is us that Edward George Ruddy died. Because this company is now in the hands of CCA - the Communication Corporation of America. There's a new Chairman of the Board, a man called Frank Hackett, sitting in Mr. Ruddy's office on the twentieth floor. And when the twelfth largest company in the world controls the most awesome God-damned propoganda force in the whole godless world, who knows what shit will be peddled for truth on this network?
Howard Beale : [ascending the stage] So, you listen to me. Listen to me: Television is not the truth! Television is a God-damned amusement park! Television is a circus, a carnival, a traveling troupe of acrobats, storytellers, dancers, singers, jugglers, side-show freaks, lion tamers, and football players. We're in the boredom-killing business! So if you want the truth... Go to God! Go to your gurus! Go to yourselves! Because that's the only place you're ever going to find any real truth.
Howard Beale : At the bottom of all of our terrified souls, we know, that democracy is a dying giant, a sick, sick, dying, decaying political concept, riling in it's final pain. I don't mean that the United States is finished as a world power. The United States is the richest, the most powerful, the most advanced country in the world, light years ahead of any other country. And I don't mean the Communist are gonna take over the world; because, the Communists are deader than we are. What is finished... is the idea that this great country is dedicated to the freedom and flourishing of every individual in it. It's the individual that's finished. It's the single, solitary human being that's finished. It's every single one of you out there that's finished, because this is no longer a nation of independent individuals. It's a nation of some 200-odd million transistorized, deodorized, whiter-that-white, steel-belted bodies, totally unnecessary as human beings, and as replaceable as piston rods... Well, the time has come to say, is dehumanization such a bad word. Because good or bad, that's what is so. The whole world is becoming humanoid - creatures that look human but aren't. The whole world not just us. We're just the most advanced country, so we're getting there first. The whole world's people are becoming mass-produced, programmed, numbered, insensate things...
Doorman : Good afternoon, Mr. Beale.
Howard Beale : I MUST MAKE MY WITNESS.
Doorman : Sure thing, Mr. Beale.
Howard Beale : [on the air] I just ran out of bullshit.
Harry Hunter : [picks up ringing phone in editing room] Mr. Schumacher's right here, do you want to talk to him?
Howard Beale : Bullshit is all the reasons we give for living. If we can't think up reasons of our own, we always have the God bullshit.
Max Schumacher : [on the phone] Yeah, Tom, what is it?
Howard Beale : We don't know why we go through all this pointless pain, humiliation, and decay. So there better be someone somewhere who *does* know. That's the God bullshit.
Max Schumacher : He's saying that life is bullshit, and it is, so what are you screaming about?
Narrator : This story is about Howard Beale, who was the news anchorman on UBS TV. In his time, Howard Beale had been a mandarin of television, the grand old man of news, with a HUT rating of 16 and a 28 audience share. In 1969, however, his fortunes began to decline. He fell to a 22 share. The following year, his wife died, and he was left a childless widower with an 8 rating and a 12 share. He became morose and isolated, began to drink heavily, and on September 22, 1975, he was fired, effective in two weeks. The news was broken to him by Max Schumacher, who was the president of the news division at UBS. The two old friends got properly pissed.
Howard Beale : [on the street] I was at CBS with Ed Murrow in 1951.
Max Schumacher : Must've been 1950 then.
Max Schumacher : I was at NBC, uh, associate producer. Morning News. I was just a kid. 26 years old.
[Not interested, Beale wanders off, until Schumacher stops him]
Max Schumacher : Anyway... anyway... they're building the lower level of the George Washington Bridge.
[Interested, Beale listens]
Max Schumacher : We were doing a remote from there.
Max Schumacher : And nobody told me!
[Beale keeps laughing, very interested]
Max Schumacher : Ten after seven in the morning, I get a call, "Where the hell are YOU? You're supposed to be on the George Washington Bridge!"
[Beale and Schumacher exchange laughs]
Max Schumacher : I jump out of bed, throw my raincoat over my pajamas. I run downstairs and out into the street...
[Schumacher runs into the street]
Max Schumacher : ...hail a cab, and I say to the cabbie, "TAKE ME TO THE MIDDLE OF THE GEORGE WASHINGTON BRIDGE!"
Max Schumacher : And the cabbie turns around and he says...
Max Schumacher : ...he says "Don't do it, buddy! You're a young man! You got your whole life ahead of you!"
Max Schumacher : Didn't I ever tell you that one before?
Howard Beale : I would like at this moment to announce that I will be retiring from this program in two weeks' time because of poor ratings. Since this show is the only thing I had going for me in my life, I've decided to kill myself. I'm going to blow my brains out right on this program a week from today. So tune in next Tuesday. That should give the public relations people a week to promote the show. You ought to get a hell of a rating out of that. 50 share, easy.
Max Schumacher : Howard, I'm taking you off the air. I think you're having a breakdown, require treatment.
Howard Beale : This is not a psychotic episode. This is a cleansing moment of clarity. I'm imbued, Max. I'm imbued with some special spirit. It's not a religious feeling at all. It's a shocking eruption of great electrical energy. I feel vivid and flashing, as if suddenly I'd been plugged into some great electromagnetic field. I feel connected to all living things. To flowers, birds, all the animals of the world. And even to some great, unseen, living force. What I think the Hindus call prana. But it's not a breakdown. I've never felt more orderly in my life. It is a shattering and beautiful sensation. It is the exalted flow of the space-time continuum, save that it is spaceless and timeless and... of such loveliness. I feel on the verge of some great, ultimate truth. And you will not take me off the air for now or for any other spaceless time!
Howard Beale : Television is not the truth. Television is a goddamned amusement park.
Howard Beale : All I know is, you've got to get mad. You've got to say, "I'm a human being, goddamn it. My life has value."
Howard Beale : We'll tell you anything you want to hear, we lie like hell.
Max Schumacher : We could make a series of it. "Suicide of the Week." Aw, hell, why limit ourselves? "Execution of the Week."
Howard Beale : "Terrorist of the Week."
Max Schumacher : I love it. Suicides, assassinations, mad bombers, Mafia hitmen, automobile smash-ups: "The Death Hour." A great Sunday night show for the whole family. It'd wipe that fuckin' Disney right off the air.
Howard Beale : You're beginning to believe the illusions we're spinning here, you're beginning to believe that the tube is reality and your own lives are unreal. You do. Why, whatever the tube tells you: you dress like the tube, you eat like the tube, you raise your children like the tube, you even think like the tube. This is mass madness, you maniacs. In God's name, you people are the real thing, WE are the illusion.
Howard Beale : ...I want you to get mad. I don't want you to protest, I don't want you to riot, I don't want you to write to your congressman, because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write. I don't know what to do about the depression, the inflation, the Russians, or the crime in the streets. All I know is that first... You've got to get mad.
Howard Beale : I bear witness to the light!
Howard Beale : All human beings are becoming humanoids. All over the world, not just in America. We're just getting there faster since we're the most advanced country.
Howard Beale : We are in a lot of trouble!... because the only truth you know is what you get over this tube. Right now there is a whole, an entire generation that never knew anything that didn't come out of this tube. This tube is the gospel- the ultimate revelation. This tube can make or break presidents popes prime minister... This tube is the most awesome goddamn force in the whole godless world and woe is us, if it ever falls in the hands of the wrong people. And when the largest company in the world controls the most awesome goddamn propaganda force in the whole godless world, who knows what shit will be peddled for truth on this network! So you listen to me... listen to me: Television is not the truth. Television is a goddamned amusement park... we are all you know. You're beginning to believe the illusions we are spinning here, you are beginning to think the tube is reality and your own lives are unreal. You do whatever the tube tells you. You dress like the tube, eat like the tube, raise your children like the tube, you even think like the tube... This is mass madness you maniacs. In god's name you people are the real thing- we are the illusion!
Harry Hunter : I told them, I said look, we're running a News department down here, not a circus and Howard Beale's not a - bearded lady and if you think I'm going to go along with this bastardization of the News you can have my resignation along with Max Schumacher's right now. And I think I'm speaking for Howard Beale and everybody else here.
Howard Beale : Hey, no, Hunter, that's my job you're turning down. Anyway, I'd go nuts without some kind of work.
Howard Beale : What's wrong with being an angry prophet denouncing the hypocrisies of our times? What do you think, Max?
Max Schumacher : Do you want to be an angry prophet denouncing the hypocrisies of our times?
Howard Beale : Yeah, I think I'd like to be an angry prophet denouncing the hypocrisies of our times.
Max Schumacher : Then, grab it! Grab it!
Howard Beale : [awake, alone, in bed, at night] I can't hear you. You'll have to talk a little louder. - - Yes. - - I hear you. - - Yes. - - Yes. - - Why me? - I said, why me? - - - Okay.
Howard Beale : [on the air] Last night, I was awakened from a fitful sleep shortly after two o'clock in the morning, by a shrill, civil and faceless voice. I couldn't make it out, at first, in the dark bedroom. And I said, "I'm sorry, you will have to talk a little louder"... The voice said to me, "I want you to tell the people the truth, not an easy thing to do, because the people don't want to know the truth." And, I said, "You're kidding. What the hell should I know about the truth?" But, the voice said to me, "Don't worry about the truth. I will put the words in your mouth." And I said, "What is this, the burning bush? For God sake, I'm not Moses." And the voice said to me, "And I'm not God! What does that got to do with it." And the voice said to me, "We're not talking about eternal truth or absolute truth or ultimate truth. We're talking about impermanent, transient human truth. I don't expect you people to be capable of truth; but, God damn it, at least you're capable of self-preservation!" And I said, "Why me?" And the voice said, "Because you're on television, dummy! You have 40 million Americans listening to you and after this show you could have 50 million. For Pete sake, I'm not asking you to walk the land in sack cloth and ashes, preaching the Armageddon. You're on TV, man!"
Howard Beale : [on the air] We all know that the the Arabs control $16 billion of this country. They own a chunk of Fifth Avenue, 20 downtown pieces of Boston, a part of the Port of New Orleans, an industrial park in Salt Lake City, they own big hunks of the Atlanta Hilton, the Arizona Land and Cattle Company, part of a bank of California, the bank... in Detroit, they control Aramco, so, puts them into Exxon, Texaco, and Mobil oil. They're all over New Jersey, Louisville, St. Louis, Missouri. And that's only what we know about. There's a Hell of a lot more we don't know about. Because all of those Arab petrodollars are washed through Switzerland and Canada and the biggest banks in this country. For example, what we don't know about is this CCA deal and all the other CCA deals. Right now, the Arabs have screwed us out of enough American dollars to come right back and with our own money buy General Moters, IBM, ITT, AT&T, DuPont, US Steel, and 20 other American companies. Hell, they already own half of England! So, listen to me. Listen to me, God damn it. The Arabs are simply buying us! There's only one thing that can stop them. You! You! So, I want you to get up now. I want you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the phone. I want you to get up from your chairs, go to the phone and get in your cars, drive into the Western Union offices in town. I want you to send a telegram to the White House... By midnight tonight, I want a million telegrams at the White House. I want them wading, knee-deep in telegrams at the White House. I want you to get up right now and write a telegram to President Ford saying, "I'm as mad as Hell and I'm not gonna take this anymore! I don't want the banks selling my country to the Arabs. I want the CCA deal stopped! Now! I want the CCA deal stopped! Now!"