"The American people don't believe anything until they see it on television." —Richard Nixon ( 1913 - 1994 ), 37th US President

Network is a 1976 American satirical film written by Paddy Chayefsky and directed by Sidney Lumet, about a fictional television network, UBS, and its struggle with poor ratings. The film stars Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Peter Finch, and Robert Duvall and features Wesley Addy, Ned Beatty, and Beatrice Straight...Network received widespread critical acclaim, with particular praise for the performances. The film was a commercial success and won four Academy Awards, in the categories of Best Actor (Finch), Best Actress (Dunaway), Best Supporting Actress (Straight) and Best Original Screenplay (Chayefsky).

In 2000, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

Howard Beale, played by Peter Finch, exhorts the audience to turn off their TV.

We deal in illusions

So, you listen to me. Listen to me! Television is not the truth. Television's a god-damned amusement park. Television is a circus, a carnival, a traveling troupe of acrobats, storytellers, dancers, singers, jugglers, sideshow 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 gonna find any real truth. But, man, you're never gonna get any truth from us.

We'll tell you anything you wanna hear. We lie like hell. We'll tell you that, uh, Kojak always gets the killer and 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 gonna 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 this sentence I am speaking to you now. Turn them off!

Certain messages on television change the viewer's brain chemistry; making them docile, aggressive, distrustful, or fearful.
  • Because less than 3 percent of you people read books.
  • Because less than 15 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 goddamn force in the whole godless world.

And woe is us if it ever falls into the hands of the wrong people.

Turn off your television and go outside

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 all 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're 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 going to 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 gotta say, "I'm a human being, goddammit! 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!"

Howard Beale, a journalist, was fired for telling the truth. In the media, the truth is bad for advertisers, which is bad for business. 

The man behind the words of this powerful speech was the American playwright, screenwriter and novelist Sidney Aaron “Paddy” Chayefsky. He is the only person to have won three solo Academy Awards for Best Screenplay (the other three-time winners, Woody Allen, Francis Ford Coppola, Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder, have all shared their awards with co-writers)

Howard Beale: The mad prophet of the airwaves

I'm Mad As Hell and I'm Not Gonna Take This Anymore!