This is what some people thought about TV in 1976. I quote it because it speaks to me today and I suspect it may to others.
You’re television incarnate…Indifferent to suffering; insensitive to joy. All of life is reduced to the common rubble of banality. War, murder, death are all the same…And the daily business of life is a corrupt comedy. You even shatter the sensations of time and space into split seconds and instant replays. The Network, 1976.
I”l just leave that thought there, for a moment, while TV continues to evolve.
Anyway, new versions of old stories is a thing older than Shakespeare. Buster Keaton was doing remakes before talkies in Hollywood. Ghostbusters (now with women), Bad Idea Theme Park with Jurassic World, Point Break Redux, the list will go on. However, no one much has tackled any kind of media story, new or remade, for a while.
There was The (Un) Social Network, but that was more a college coming of business age, douchey entitled youth with rowing montages drama rather than a film about the media. I guess there was Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom, but wasn’t that a fantasy about ‘ethical reporting’? I can’t really comment as I didn’t see it, although I noticed it occasionally enraged the internets. As I noted in a post about Sherlock, that too dealt with media a bit, but through the focus of the take on Conan Doyle’s detective.
The flip side of remakes is making over history, and there has been an appetite for this with Mad Men and Halt and Catch Fire and in Australia Love Child and The Secret River. The negative is that the recent fictionalised stuff about Julian Assange tanked. Maybe that’s more because people are divided about him being a supervillian or freedom of information fighter or both, or that his story hasn’t finished or perhaps that he and his situation is even weirder than TV or film can make show. Also why go see a film about Assange when he makes his own music videos?
What would be interesting to attempt, is a near recent history/remake or update to the 1976 film Network with English-Australian Peter Finch. People get their news differently now, although there are still old-ish men yelling at us from televisions, they are just more likely to be comedians, while there are more platforms, weird global business empires with their shady deals, citizen journalists, crowd funding, pay walls, outsourcing, listicles, and breaking bad Buzzfeed news. Then there is the tech, slave factories and rare earth mines in fragile eco-systems for smart phones, hacking and security all to attend too.
There is the digital divide, disruption, and cryptocurrency, peer-to-peer lending and shadow banking all involved in and around media. And I haven’t even got to the political stuff: the TPP, and how in Australia journalist can report on something they didn’t know was deemed an operational security matter and for doing that they go to jail. Peter Greste, who was actually jailed for this
very crime job in Egypt, is not impressed when he got home to freedom in Australia. These are the same politicians who are talking about ‘those viral things‘ in the Australian parliament. Truly, watch that last link, as it says everything about the level of debate.
Anyway, the below is one of the greatest rants ever filmed and because some days it seems the news of the world is one endless cycle of the same, on repeat. Since about 1976.
I mean, aren’t we still, mad as hell? Course, these days we get the anger for a minute or two and fumble to find something to direct it at, perhaps digitally signing a petition. Then the anger and the wrongs of the world are filed away as we are overwhelmed by the next wave of stuff invading our devices, reinforcing the idea we remain the powerless minions we always were, too weak to ‘meddle’, like some do, with those ‘primal forces of nature’ and the ‘immutable by-laws of business’.
Still, the more things change, the more things stay the same. I don’t know what it all means, but one day there will be a new or remade dramedy about it. We’ll download it into silicon chips implanted into our eyeballs for direct viewing as we blink between news and lifestyle feeds or something.
Arthur Jensen: There are no nations. There are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There are no third worlds. There is no West. There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast…interwoven, interacting, multivariate, multinational dominion of dollars. Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars…It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today. Network, 1976.