Network Irony

Network Irony

The Irony of Individualism

Howard Beale is asked to come back as the anchor for UBS news, and to continue saying anything he wants. Diana Christensen wants him to speak freely and be an individual because the ratings will soar, and she will become a hero. But, as he speaks more and more freely, they need to contain his message so that it stays on par with what the corporation needs from him, which is solely ratings, not his individualism.

The Irony of Love

Max Schumacher leaves his wife of twenty-five years for Diana because of the fire he feels between the two of him, which he tells his wife is love. He soon sees clearly that what he and Diana has is not love; it’s closer to utility. Max’s experience with Diana has shown him what real love is: the relationship he had with his wife. One, many times, doesn’t know love until one gives it up.

The Irony of Freedom of Speech

Howard Beale reaches deep into the heart of the American people on his live television broadcast. So much so that they are empowered by his impassioned speeches. But when Beale tells the people that there is nothing that can be done to stop the onslaught of capitalism, his despair disempowers the people. So much so, that not only do they stop taking action, but they turn him off their television sets. Thus, Beale’s once heroic speeches lead to the network executives taking his life.

The Irony of Capitalism

In America, everyone has a shot at building a life from the ground up no matter their economic status or family background. Capitalism provides the ability to become someone, the American dream. A dream that is not offered in many countries to this day. But, when Beale reveals that the Arabs are buying UBS, Arthur Jensen, who represents corporate capitalism squashes Beale’s dream and his belief that he can be someone. Thus, the same structure that builds up a man, seeks to also tear him down.

The Irony of Friendship

Max Schumacher is the head of the news division for UBS, but we see that he is also Howard’s friend. They share memories together, and Max stays on to produce Howard’s show when Diana and Hackett ask Beale to continue on. Max even demands that they take Howard off the air because he sees he’s on the verge of a mental break, and he’s fired and replaced by Diana. This is the end of Max trying to get Howard of the air, he simply loses his duty to his friend who is being used after he is himself betrayed. Thus, when we focus primarily on the betrayals upon our own lives, we risk betraying our friends by not doing anything to help them. We become complicit in their destruction by standing on the sidelines.

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