Thursday, March 09, 2006

"I'm As Mad As Hell, and. . ."

". . .I'm just going to sit here and take it!"

I made a conscious decision last Sunday that I wasn't going to watch the 78th running of the Oscars, the prospect of seeing Jon Stewart fall flat on his face notwithstanding.

Instead, I made the trek over to the local Blockbuster and rented Network, the 1976 Paddy Chayefsky flick that had everyone "mad as hell" and opening windows.

The film won four Oscars, including a posthumous award to Peter Finch, the "mad as hell" Howard Beale who demanded of his television audience that they exhibit more outrage.

Finch never lived to see us get up, run to the windows, and scream at the top of our lungs, "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore." I wonder, will any of us live to see the day when Long Islanders are sufficiently pissed, driven to their windows, and moved to scream?

We groan and mumble about property taxes, then, year after year, we simply make out another check to the Receiver's office.

We lament the loss of suburbia -- the congested roadways, the big-box stores, the vacant "Main Streets," the basement apartments, among other untold indicia of a quality of life long foresaken if not forgotten-- and then, we quietly retreat into the shadows of complacency.

"Someone ought to..." "They had better..." "When will they..." This is as far as that primal scream has evolved -- a muted undercurrent of resignation.

Will we -- or anyone among us, for that matter -- ever have the guts or the backbone to stand up, to Washington, to Albany, to Mineola, to Town Hall, for goodness sake, and to shout for all the world to hear, "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore?"

With apologies to Mr. Chayefsky, let me take a stab at the Soliloquy:

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 blog is reality and that your own lives are unreal. You do whatever the blog tells you. You dress like the blog, you eat like the blog, you raise your children like the blog. You even think like the blog. This is mass madness. You maniacs. In God's name, you people are the real thing. We are the illusion. So turn off your computer monitors. 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 blogging to you now. Turn them off!

See what I mean? You're still reading, aren't you? You just don't get it.

I've seen the wrath turn to apathy; the indignation melt away into a passive acceptance; the activism co-opted by the reactionaries. No, I'm not holding a gun to my head threatening to kill myself right here before you on this blog. On the other hand, I'm not holding my breath waiting for you to rush to the window.
- - -
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 TV's 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. (shouting) You've got to say, 'I'm a human being, god-dammit! 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!'

1 comment:

  1. I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!"