Chayefsky gives Beale, a television news commentator, an absolutely devastating monologue that is the linchpin of the movie. It's long, and I'm going to print virtually the entire thing (thanks, IMDB!)
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.Why am I mentioning this today?
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.
You've got to say, 'I'm a HUMAN BEING, Goddamnit! 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!"
In the last couple of days, a number of news reporters covering Katrina on the ground in New Orleans have had their Howard Beale moments, live and on the air. So have a few studio types, like Jack Cafferty at CNN. They are, to put it succinctly, mad as hell, and they are not going to take it any more.
Crooks and Liars has archived some of the most startling examples of this phenomenon, including:
- Shephard Smith and Geraldo Rivera basically tearing Sean Hannity a new asshole, live and on the air. (When Fox News isn't supporting the Bush administration, y'all... whew.) (Quicktime movie here.)
- Anderson Cooper eviscerates perky Senator Mary Landrieu. (Quicktime movie here.)
- Paula Zahn (Paula Zahn!) takes apart FEMA chief Michael Brown. (Windows Media link.)
- So does Ted Koppel. (Quicktime link.)
- NPR's Robert Siegel holds Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff's feet to the fire (MP3 link.)
- CNN's Jack Cafferty offers a few thoughts. (Quicktime link)