Carl Paladino, the Buffalo businessman, officially threw his hat into the ring and announced his candidacy for the Republican gubernatorial nomination yesterday. Appealing to Tea Party types, he presents himself as an angry populist railing against the "parasitical" ruling class of Albany. He rails in archetypal language, proclaiming that he's "mad as hell" and "not going to take it anymore."
Quoting Paddy Chayefsky's screenplay for Sidney Lumet's Network is kind of like singing "Born in the U.S.A." at a patriotic rally. It doesn't quite mean what you think it means. While anyone may agree with the literal sentiment expressed on air by Howard Beale, it should be remembered that, in the film, these were the words of a man who was losing his mind. When he exhorts his viewers to go to their windows and repeat his slogan, the fact that so many do so is not shown as a Capra-esque uprising of the common people, but as the rapid viral spread of a mass psychosis, accompanied by scary lightning flashes in the night sky. It should also be remembered that Beale's sermons inspire no rebellion or reform movement that the film notices. He only inspires more people to watch his news program, which degenerates from a dry news summary to a prophetic vision of today's rantfests from O'Reilly to Olbermann. According to Network, Howard Beale's ranting is not a remedy for the ills of American society, but a symptom. Carl Paladino offers himself as a remedy with the same sort of rhetoric about running government on business principles that politicians have used for more than a century. But the fact that he commends himself to us by declaring himself mad, in the language of a fictional madman, suggests a different diagnosis.