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The Images We See on TV

The 1976 movie, Network, which was directed by Sidney Lumet and written by Paddy Chayefsky, discussed the complexities that exist in different mass media corporations in their aim of acquiring the most number of audience shares. It exposes the sad reality that the mass media, particularly their news departments, had to undertake just to be able to achieve the said goal, at times even at the expense of their integrity.

More importantly, the film Network has given us the opportunity to witness firsthand what goes on inside the conclaves of their offices, where the advocacy of fair and balanced news reporting ought to be promoted, but too often sacrificed for the sake of garnering major audience share. Sadly, when news corporations place too much importance on audience share that it results to being the primary concern of the corporation’s big-wigs, then a dilemma arises wherein the supposed news program becomes a form of entertainment.

This can be evidenced in the film’s fictitious Union Broadcasting System, wherein their news formats were totally dependent on what their audiences were clamoring for. The dilemma in this type of system is the probability for the truth to be patterned according to the liking of the general public, thus creating a public acceptance that everything that the TV says is absolute truth. Perhaps this is what Beale meant when he decried, “The tube is the Gospel, the ultimate revelation. This tube can make or break Presidents, Popes, Prime Ministers. This tube is the most awesome god-dammed force in the Godless world” (Gottfried, 1976).

Perhaps those behind the film, Network, wanted to impart to its viewers the reality that not everything that is said in the mass media is of absolute truth. Thus, there is absolutely no need for us to model our lives according to the images that we see in the media, be it in politics, fashion, morals on sexuality, and even in the standards of beauty. We must learn from the wisdom of Beale, especially in his warning that “Everything television touches is destroyed” (Gottfried, 1976). Reference Gottfried, H. (Producer), & Chayefsky, P. (Writer). (1976). Network [Motion Picture]. United States: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer United Artists.

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