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UBS = FOX? Network's prescience about the future of popular culture


slaytonf
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No other film has so accurately forecast the future as Network.  This refers not merely to news broadcasting, but the entire cast of mainstream culture here, and worldwide.  I don't think Paddy Chayefsky intended it to be so.  It seems his goal was a scathing satire of American culture of the time.  Like the corporate execs in the movie, he lucked into something wildly beyond that.  The film was notorious for the excesses it went to.  It now seems a little pale, considering what passes muster today.  Except, of course, for Howard Beale's assassination at the end.  But wait. . . .wait. . . .

 

 

Really, the movie to me has always been a huge, exquisite, Rube Goldberg of a shaggy dog story.  It has the best pay-off line of any movie, short of I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang.  How does it go?:  So Howard Beale became the first person in history to be killed for poor ratings.

 

Sometimes I think Mr. Chayefsky dreamed up the whole movie just for that line.

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It's been a while since I've seen it, and it's a great movie, but on this viewing two things stick out about Network to me- and maybe not in a good way.

 

1. The big Ned Beatty scene is to me- at least this time around- where the film falls apart and becomes too didactic. I'm not saying I don't agree with the ideas put forth, but they're espoused in a way that is just too heavy-handed.

 

2. Interesting how Paddy Chayefsky (sp?) who was a big time Zionist, made it a bunch of arabs who are buying up corporations with sinister motives. If I'm tossing a can of WD-40 into the fire with this statement, so be it. The big long spiel Finch's character goes off on about how the Arabs are buying up America and we should worry about it is a touch on the Xenophobic side. It was at the time, and still is, more than just Arab oil money funding that went into the corporations who were/are the founders of "the new religion."

 

and also:

 

I also have to say William Holden's performance is only 80% successful, the other 20% of the time he comes off as slick, glib, and too pat- traits I see in much of his work that turn me off. (I cite his reaction to his wife's diatribe as one such example, it's just not genuine.)

 

Finch is amazing, but it's a supporting role.

 

Dunaway is wonderful. It's her movie. All the way. Hers is the only character who isn't shoved out of the way for large blocks of the story- Network, for all its strengths, is kind of a movie without a main character; a ship without a captain, it's not seen through any one's persons eyes and as such, it loses something to the narrative (but is still pretty damn good.)

 

ps- I have a feeling this discussion may get heated. thanks in advance to the moderation staff who've been a lot more tolerant and easy-going with the padlock since the remodel.

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1. The big Ned Beatty scene is to me- at least this time around- where the film falls apart and becomes too didactic. I'm not saying I don't agree with the ideas put forth, but they're espoused in a way that is just too heavy-handed.

 

So starting off the movie with a man telling America he will blow his brains out in front of it next week is not heavy-handed?  Well, ok.

 

As for the Arabs taking the hit for xenophobic rants (as the Japanese did just a few years before, and as the Chinese do today), it's true what you say, they were not the future landlords of America.  The English were up to that time the largest purchasers of America. I don't know if that's still the case.  But as you note, there was widespread fear of Arab take-overs in the contemporary consciousness, justified or not.  So you don't need Zionist zealotry to account for the words he put in Beale's mouth, just good old tried and true Christian prejudice and bigotry.

 

One thing I forgot about the movie's prescience, the development of the global economy.  This was decades before the WTO and the overseas outsourcing of everything from manufacturing to software.

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I think UBS in today's view is indicative of all mainstream media- which will sensationalize any news information, create scandal and controversy to get people watching, will tell them exactly what they want to hear, and will trivialize violence for mass entertainment. I once saw a youtube video entitled "the genesis of Glenn Beck" and it showed Diana Christensen pitch to Robert Duvall's character about putting Howard back on the air and making her producer. While that scene is excellent and one of Dunaway's crowning in the film, I don't think Beale is as manifestly irresponsible as Duvall's character suggested him to be. 

 

I don't think there is a Beale in mainstream news media- I think there are cheap intimidators. Mind you, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Bill O'Reilly are manifestly irresponsible as the people who take what they say seriously and commit violent acts, but Beale had a conscience. 

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I think UBS in today's view is indicative of all mainstream media- which will sensationalize any news information, create scandal and controversy to get people watching, will tell them exactly what they want to hear, and will trivialize violence for mass entertainment.

 

I agree 100%

I also agree that US dependence on oil drives a lot of news "media". And then add amateur cel phone reporting.....

 

My first indication that 6 o'clock "news" was turning into Entertainment Tonight was the addition of "sports" to the line up. Since when are scores "news"?

 

The movie NETWORK's children are the plethora of today's comedy news shows. NETWORK could have never imagined the jerky mannerism super model as "reporter" we have on the air today.

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I don't think there is a Beale in mainstream news media- I think there are cheap intimidators. Mind you, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Bill O'Reilly are manifestly irresponsible as the people who take what they say seriously and commit violent acts, but Beale had a conscience. 

 

You are forgetting the folks over at MSNBC. I do agree that some in the supposedly irresponsible so-called MSM has had some bad actors of late but what violent acts are you speaking of?

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I also have to say William Holden's performance is only 80% successful, the other 20% of the time he comes off as slick, glib, and too pat- traits I see in much of his work that turn me off. (I cite his reaction to his wife's diatribe as one such example, it's just not genuine.)

 

Finch is amazing, but it's a supporting role.

 

Dunaway is wonderful. It's her movie. All the way. Hers is the only character who isn't shoved out of the way for large blocks of the story- Network, for all its strengths, is kind of a movie without a main character; a ship without a captain, it's not seen through any one's persons eyes and as such, it loses something to the narrative (but is still pretty damn good.)

 

 

 

In William Holden's performance in NETWORK you can definitely see the "just say the words" acting technique that was practiced by so many American movie actors of his generation. But in his scenes with Faye Dunaway his performance moves into a higher plane. 

 

And Faye Dunaway is brilliant. I am a big fan of hers, having only really discovered her work in the last few years. (Her day during this year's Summer Under The Stars was my favorite.)

I agree with Robert Osborne's statement that with Faye Dunaway in NETWORK you don't see an actor acting but rather see a person. Sometimes her behavior is big, sometimes it is small . . . just as behavior is for real people. Some actors are so constrained by the notion of committing to a "character" that they fail to recognize that real people very frequently behave in ways that are "out of character." Faye Dunaway's Diana is real and. yes, terrifying

Her reaction to Robert Duvall's line "For God's sake we're talking about putting a manifestly irresponsible man on national television" is one of the best movie moments of all time.

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And Faye Dunaway is brilliant. I am a big fan of hers, having only really discovered her work in the last few years. (Her day during this year's Summer Under The Stars was my favorite.)

 

Back when I lived in HOLLYWOOD, I had a friend who had a small role in the movie The Rules of Attraction (I think that was it; it was based on a Bret Easton Ellis book and no one saw it.) The one scene he had was with Faye Dunaway, who had a small role herself.

 

When I found this out I was like: "spill. I want to know everything", thinking in all likelihood that Her Fayeness came onto the set with a riding crop in hand and was only subdued when someone tossed a slab of raw meat her way (the stories about her are legendary.)

 

He said she was very, very, very kind; gentle, polite and talked to him a lot about acting, saying something to the effect of: "you've always got to keep working on your craft- don't ever think you'll get to a point where you don't have anything new to learn."

 

I was kind of disappointed, but I've never forgotten it. It's a shame that things just didn't work out for her career-wise; she's still around and still has a lot to offer (she finally got to make Master Class into a film a couple of years ago and no one saw it.) I've read here and there that she's had financial problems, having to sell her Beverly Glen estate and NYC apartment. 

 

But as far as HOLLYWOOD is concerned, the only actress over 50 who's hireable is f***ing Meryl. And if Meryl says no, you can always go with Diane Keaton or just throw a gray wig on Sissy Spacek.

 

Whatever.

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But as far as HOLLYWOOD is concerned, the only actress over 50 who's hireable is f***ing Meryl. And if Meryl says no, you can always go with Diane Keaton or just throw a gray wig on Sissy Spacek.

 

 

Have you checked out the birthdate of "America's Sweetheart," Sandra Bullock? She's received two Best Actress nominations in the past five years (winning once) and earned an estimated $70 million for her work in "Gravity." I'll bet SHE hires people.

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Have you checked out the birthdate of "America's Sweetheart," Sandra Bullock? She's received two Best Actress nominations in the past five years (winning once) and earned an estimated $70 million for her work in "Gravity."

 

All right, fine, over 60.

 

(and I would bet you  Sandy'll either retire from acting or turn to directing/producing in the next few years; either that or end up doing a Netflix series.)

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Back when I lived in HOLLYWOOD, I had a friend who had a small role in the movie The Rules of Attraction (I think that was it; it was based on a Bret Easton Ellis book and no one saw it.) The one scene he had was with Faye Dunaway, who had a small role herself.

 

When I found this out I was like: "spill. I want to know everything", thinking in all likelihood that Her Fayeness came onto the set with a riding crop in hand and was only subdued when someone tossed a slab of raw meat her way (the stories about her are legendary.)

 

He said she was very, very, very kind; gentle, polite and talked to him a lot about acting, saying something to the effect of: "you've always got to keep working on your craft- don't ever think you'll get to a point where you don't have anything new to learn."

 

 

 

I like RULES OF ATTRACTION. It stars James Van Der Beek as the anti-Dawson sans creek. His plays the brother of Patrick Bateman from AMERICAN PSYCHO.

 

The restaurant scene with Faye Dunaway as Ian Somerhalder's mother is one of my favorite scenes in the movie. The guy who plays Swoosie Kurtz's son in that scene is wonderful with his "My name is not Richard. It's Dick."  I love Faye's reaction to Richard/Dick's saying one of the classes he's taking at school is O-r-a-l Sex Workshop.

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All right, fine, over 60.

 

(and I would bet you  Sandy'll either retire from acting or turn to directing/producing in the next few years; either that or end up doing a Netflix series.)

 

She's already a canny producer, but I guess we shouldn't be surprised if she retires from acting. I'm not sure I would keep doing it if my net worth was $200 million!

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The restaurant scene with Faye Dunaway as Ian Somerhalder's mother is one of my favorite scenes in the movie. The guy who plays Swoosie Kurtz's son in that scene is wonderful with his "My name is not Richard. It's Dick."  I love Faye's reaction to Richard/Dick's saying one of the classes he's taking at school is O-r-a-l Sex Workshop.

 

That was my friend, guy named Russell from Tennessee- terrific guy, very funny, very grounded, very real. I've lost touch with him since I moved, but I hope he's doing okay.

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Holden,

 

I keep watching that clip you posted of Faye winning the Oscar for Network. Not only is Talia Shire visibly peeved to be losing; Sissy Spacek (who had to've known she didn't have a shot in hell at winning) is the only fellow nominee who so much as managed to crack a smile (Liv Ullman is downright nonplussed.)

 

It's hard to believe that Faye had only been acting in films for eight years (more or less) when she won.

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LornaHansonForbes, on 20 Sept 2014 - 11:42 PM, said:snapback.png

1. The big Ned Beatty scene is to me- at least this time around- where the film falls apart and becomes too didactic. I'm not saying I don't agree with the ideas put forth, but they're espoused in a way that is just too heavy-handed.

 

Slaytonf wrote: So starting off the movie with a man telling America he will blow his brains out in front of it next week is not heavy-handed?  Well, ok.

 

(God, I miss the old system of responding to each other.)

 

Anyhoos, no I don't think the scene where Finch says he will commit suicide on the air is heavy-handed; and even if it is- I would say it's the didactic nature of Network that is its weakness. It's not a film that lets the viewer figure things out on his or her own, it's a film that preaches, that says "just in case you missed the message: here it is, all spelled out and enunciated quite clearly for you."

 

One thing I really hate in a movie is a sense that the makers have either little respect for the intelligence of the audience or an outright contempt for them. I don't think this is a major problem in Network, but it is there to some degree, nowhere moreso than in the Ned Beatty scene (and as much as his career went completely off the rails after this, I have to admit he is pretty good in this, his only Oscar-nominated role.)

 

Even if I agree with what you're espousing in your film, I can't help but resent the fact that you're shouting it at me and spelling it out on a chalkboard, as if I were a particularly slow student in a driver's ed class who can't quite grasp how an intersection with four stop signs works.

 

and, for the record, I'm not the only one who feels this way in re: Network-

 

from wikipedia: Not all reviews were positive: Pauline Kael in The New Yorker, in a review subtitled "Hot Air", criticized the film's abundance of long, preachy speeches; Chayefsky's self-righteous contempt for not only television itself but also television viewers; and the fact that almost everyone in the movie, particularly Robert Duvall, has a screaming rant: "The cast of this messianic farce takes turns yelling at us soulless masses.

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LornaHansonForbes, on 20 Sept 2014 - 11:42 PM, said:snapback.png

 

Slaytonf wrote: So starting off the movie with a man telling America he will blow his brains out in front of it next week is not heavy-handed?  Well, ok.

 

(God, I miss the old system of responding to each other.)

 

Anyhoos, no I don't think the scene where Finch says he will commit suicide on the air is heavy-handed; and even if it is- I would say it's the didactic nature of Network that is its weakness. It's not a film that lets the viewer figure things out on his or her own, it's a film that preaches, that says "just in case you missed the message: here it is, all spelled out and enunciated quite clearly for you."

 

One thing I really hate in a movie is a sense that the makers have either little respect for the intelligence of the audience or an outright contempt for them. I don't think this is a major problem in Network, but it is there to some degree, nowhere moreso than in the Ned Beatty scene (and as much as his career went completely off the rails after this, I have to admit he is pretty good in this, his only Oscar-nominated role.)

 

Even if I agree with what you're espousing in your film, I can't help but resent the fact that you're shouting it at me and spelling it out on a chalkboard, as if I were a particularly slow student in a driver's ed class who can't quite grasp how an intersection with four stop signs works.

 

and, for the record, I'm not the only one who feels this way in re: Network-

 

from wikipedia: Not all reviews were positive: Pauline Kael in The New Yorker, in a review subtitled "Hot Air", criticized the film's abundance of long, preachy speeches; Chayefsky's self-righteous contempt for not only television itself but also television viewers; and the fact that almost everyone in the movie, particularly Robert Duvall, has a screaming rant: "The cast of this messianic farce takes turns yelling at us soulless masses.

I agree that Network is a premise that Chayefsky got too cute with too far. Contempt for network greed? yeah, people can easily get that...but Chayefsky didn't know when to stop. What's his point? that the viewer masses empower network greed? maybe so but they also empowered his bank account as a writer too. You got this great memorable Howard Beal rant "I'm as mad as hell! and I'm not going to take this anymore!!!" If Beal was going verbally ballistic at anything it was corporate greed pure and simple. don't bring the public into it. we're the ones Chayefsky was trying to make a point with...so don't abuse the privilege. if...IF only one of today's talking heads would flip out on the air like Howard Beal it would provide some welcome TV entertainment that viewers have not seen in decades. :)

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You are forgetting the folks over at MSNBC. I do agree that some in the supposedly irresponsible so-called MSM has had some bad actors of late but what violent acts are you speaking of?

To clarify, I originally stated that UBS is indicative of all mainstream news media, I used FOX  as an example because of subject line and because they are the best Exhibit A out there. 

 

To answer your question, Rush Limbaugh has said that we should take up arms against President Obama, and Cliven Bundy tried to do that. Bill O'Reilly recently has condoned the murders of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin through victim-blaming. Glenn Beck was listened to reiterating the take up arms thing that Jared Loughner listen to before shooting Senator Giffords, not to mention the Sarah Palin crosshair list. 

 

Now, connecting it to discussion, all mainstream news media centers around a personality who states opinions with news,argue with a panel to confirm their opinion, corrects those who differ with them, and tells the viewing audience what to think. 

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To clarify, I originally stated that UBS is indicative of all mainstream news media, I used FOX  as an example because of subject line and because they are the best Exhibit A out there. 

 

To answer your question, Rush Limbaugh has said that we should take up arms against President Obama, and Cliven Bundy tried to do that. Bill O'Reilly recently has condoned the murders of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin through victim-blaming. Glenn Beck was listened to reiterating the take up arms thing that Jared Loughner listen to before shooting Senator Giffords, not to mention the Sarah Palin crosshair list. 

 

Now, connecting it to discussion, all mainstream news media centers around a personality who states opinions with news,argue with a panel to confirm their opinion, corrects those who differ with them, and tells the viewing audience what to think. 

 

Brown wasn't murdered, since no one as been charged yet, for said crime.   There was a trial related to the death of Martin and a jury decided it wasn't murder.     These are not opinions these are facts.     One may disagree with how these cases have been or will be of course,  but one does need to understand the facts,  especially if one is going to single out others for not doing so.

 

I do agree with the comment about all mainstream news media centers.     MSNBC does this just as much a Fox.    CNN to a lesser degree than those two IMO.

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Brown wasn't murdered, since no one as been charged yet, for said crime.   There was a trial related to the death of Martin and a jury decided it wasn't murder.     These are not opinions these are facts.     One may disagree with how these cases have been or will be of course,  but one does need to understand the facts,  especially if one is going to single out others for not doing so.

 

I do agree with the comment about all mainstream news media centers.     MSNBC does this just as much a Fox.    CNN to a lesser degree than those two IMO.

Since I don't want to divert the main topic here, I do want to say that media influences opinion very much so in those cases and while I look it away from that influence, I do think that looking at the racism of our judicial system is a separate topic. I think news media can do a better job of being fair and balanced rather than purport it while feeding bread to the hungry masses looking for confirmation bias entertainment. 

Getting back to Network, I find it interesting that to boost ratings Diana Christensen looks to the Angela Davis- inspired character to develop her Mao Se Tung hour, and mentions how utilizing television will make it easier to sell Communism to the underprivileged masses than hanging out on inner city street corners. One could tie that to the rise of independent media, albeit the Communism plug, of the past few years and how successful it is becoming. 

 

I just find it interesting how much power as we as viewing audience give the media. Just like the Howard Beale speech, we depend on it to tell us what to think, what to eat, what to feel, it's madness and we're maniacs out of this dependency. It's our drug. Look at the Ferguson protests, if we didn't have Bill O'Reilly yelling "race war" or Chris Matthews yelling for listening to Americans of color rather than go along with the planted justifications for their murders, where would we be? 

 

In this day and age, anything on television that passes for fact should be suspect. I'm amazed people just leave their confirmation bias at the end of the remote and do nothing about it, because they got their fill. 

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Since I don't want to divert the main topic here, I do want to say that media influences opinion very much so in those cases and while I look it away from that influence, I do think that looking at the racism of our judicial system is a separate topic. I think news media can do a better job of being fair and balanced rather than purport it while feeding bread to the hungry masses looking for confirmation bias entertainment. 

Getting back to Network, I find it interesting that to boost ratings Diana Christensen looks to the Angela Davis- inspired character to develop her Mao Se Tung hour, and mentions how utilizing television will make it easier to sell Communism to the underprivileged masses than hanging out on inner city street corners. One could tie that to the rise of independent media, albeit the Communism plug, of the past few years and how successful it is becoming. 

 

I just find it interesting how much power as we as viewing audience give the media. Just like the Howard Beale speech, we depend on it to tell us what to think, what to eat, what to feel, it's madness and we're maniacs out of this dependency. It's our drug. Look at the Ferguson protests, if we didn't have Bill O'Reilly yelling "race war" or Chris Matthews yelling for listening to Americans of color rather than go along with the planted justifications for their murders, where would we be? 

 

In this day and age, anything on television that passes for fact should be suspect. I'm amazed people just leave their confirmation bias at the end of the remote and do nothing about it, because they got their fill. 

 

Again,  they were NOT murdered,  instead they were killed.    It appears you're also taking the drug.

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Again,  they were NOT murdered,  instead they were killed.    It appears you're also taking the drug.

Do you mean the drug called the American principle "innocent until proven guilty?" I wish you would stop baiting, James. It insults your intelligence. 

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Do you mean the drug called the American principle "innocent until proven guilty?" I wish you would stop baiting, James. It insults your intelligence. 

 

I mentioned 'drug' based on what you posted:  ",,,we depend on it to tell us what to think, what to eat, what to feel, it's madness and we're maniacs out of this dependency. It's our drug".

 

With Zimmerman it isn't about innocent until proven guilty,  it is about the fact that he was found NOT guilty of the crime of murder.   Therefore to me it is slander to call what he did that night murder.

 

As for the cop that shot Brown;   He hasn't even be charged yet.     I believe in due process for all, even people I dislike or that did things I don't approve or condon.    This is just a value I have. 

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I mentioned 'drug' based on what you posted:  ",,,we depend on it to tell us what to think, what to eat, what to feel, it's madness and we're maniacs out of this dependency. It's our drug".

 

With Zimmerman it isn't about innocent until proven guilty,  it is about the fact that he was found NOT guilty of the crime of murder.   Therefore to me it is slander to call what he did that night murder.

 

As for the cop that shot Brown;   He hasn't even be charged yet.     I believe in due process for all, even people I dislike or that did things I don't approve or condon.    This is just a value I have. 

Yes, well, bait away! You love to make things dramatic to prove a point. 

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Well, this has gone in a slightly different direction than I thought it would.  But what's new about that?

 

Anyway.

 

per LornaHansonForbes:

 

One thing I really hate in a movie is a sense that the makers have either little respect for the intelligence of the audience or an outright contempt for them. I don't think this is a major problem in Network, but it is there to some degree

 

I'm glad it didn't ruin the movie for you.  To tell the truth, I didn't get so much that feeling.  Maybe it was that I agreed, or didn't disagree with what Mr. Chayefsky was saying.  Or that my radar for contempt is faulty.  Or I'm one of the people who do need it spelled out for them.

 

All I can say in the film's defense is that it is meant to be in every way an overthetop movie.  Overthetop in concept, character, story.  Everybody is shouting out what they are about, not only in words, but in actions.  It's meant to be egregious, excessive, outrageous.  It's meant to shock, appall, grab you by the lapels and shake you.  I can find it in me to overlook when he gets didactic, especially with such brilliant performances.  Peter Finch's mad-as-hell scene is still stirring, and Faye Dunaway is a raw, quivering, exposed nerve in the break-up scene.

 

My admiration for the film, aside from some of the performances, comes from how he nailed so much of what was to happen, not only in television, but in the wider culture and economy.  True, we still do not have the Mao Zedong hour, but we've lost so many of our charismatic revolutionary leaders to academia, middle age, and the subtle subversive attractions of bourgeois life, that there's not much hope in that direction, anymore.  We have to content ourselves with contrived realities, such as Survivor, or the much more shocking and horrifying real realities, like the Real Housewives of [fill in the blank].

 

 

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Holden,

 

I keep watching that clip you posted of Faye winning the Oscar for Network. Not only is Talia Shire visibly peeved to be losing; Sissy Spacek (who had to've known she didn't have a shot in hell at winning) is the only fellow nominee who so much as managed to crack a smile (Liv Ullman is downright nonplussed.)

 

It's hard to believe that Faye had only been acting in films for eight years (more or less) when she won.

 

Yes, Sissy Spacek is the only one of Faye's competitors for the Best Actress Oscar who seems to have a genuine "good sportsmanship-like" reaction to Faye's win although Marie-Christine Barrault does have a faint smile (but it is same faint smile she has before the winner is announced).

Liv Ullman's expression when Faye Dunaway's name is read has a "Huh?" quality to it.

And Talia Shire looks very, very displeased and even angry.

 

Faye gives a great acceptance speech. I like when she she says she "didn't expect this to happen quite yet." It's a very classy way of saying she did expect it, but not so soon.

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