I was an angry youth. Aren’t we all to some degree? Angry because our brother or sister got something we didn’t, angry because that kid at school wouldn’t leave us alone. Maybe I’m in the minority. I was angry.
Creativity was an outlet for me. Daydreaming.
Sports, too. But it was the written word that really saved me. Calvin and Hobbes, Choose Your Own Adventures, Star Wars novelizations, to name a few. Sure, it wasn’t Hilton or Tolkien or even Cussler. Those books came later. But they still took me to a place that wasn’t angry all the time. It was full of positivity and adventure and good triumphing over evil.
When I began writing, I grew even less angry. Poems can have a calming effect. That’s what I wrote first, poems. Then short stories. Now? I still write poetry. Novels, too. Oh, and this blog. I use creativity and the written word to spin tales and share experiences and to live my life full and rich.
So when I wake up in the morning and settle into my routine of checking out the news, I begin to feel like my little world is crashing. My positivity bubble is developing signs of an ozone-esque hole, the harmful UV rays of negativity seeping in. I get angry. When I read the news and see the insanity…wait, the ignorance and plain stupidity, I begin to get really angry. Mad.
Like Howard Beale mad. Like I want to have 120 unadulterated seconds on-air to rant and release. To scream and shout and tell the world how utterly ridiculous it is for its incompetence and inability to right the wrongs. Its inability to see the forest for the trees or to simply show some respect…
“I’M MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!!”
I can feel that boiling rage rising up and urging me to toss up the windows and shout to the universe. Like Howard told me to. The anger. The shame. The shame for feeling like I’m some old man who doesn’t like what the kids are doing…like it’s my fault. The anger for knowing that isn’t true. The doubt. The confusion. The anger. Again. Again. Again.
“I’M MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!!”
The economy. The violence. The politics. The restlessness, the disconnect, the information super-highway with nothing on it but bloggers ranting and raving…
So I sit down to write…no, wait. I sit down to RANT. To exercise my right to be mad, my freedom to chase my dreams and share my experiences (and sometimes my anger). I sit down to take full advantage of my freedom of speech. My freedom…
The movie from which Howard Beale is a character, “Network”, was released to the general public in 1976. Thirty six years ago. In looking back on world events of 1976, it is almost laughable the similarities to today. Politics were a mess. The economy was struggling due the market crash a few years prior to ’76, as well as the aftermath of the ’73 oil embargo. Ruthless dictators were in power around the globe. Natural disasters were claiming lives at home and overseas. Terrorists were terrorizing, there was violence in schools.
Disco was peaking, and punk rock was emerging…Heck, you could make an argument right there that the world was ending.
But it wasn’t. It didn’t. I sit and write and read and research and I find that Howard Beale was angry for some very good reasons. He should have been angry. But “Network” wasn’t just a story about societal ills, but a story about television’s greed for ratings. It was a story about television exploiting society. Substitute the internet for television in today’s world and that is why I’m mad as hell. I should be mad.
But the world isn’t getting worse. Sure it’s changing, but worse? I don’t think so. I just think we’re looking at more of what was already out there because of the accessibility of information thanks to the internet. In 1976, television was still experimenting with genres and formats. It was still pushing the edge of the envelope to what was possible. It was concerned about ratings in an economy that wasn’t flush with money. Television was clawing and scratching for every dollar. As a result, it was ruining the career of a dignified anchorman who wasn’t pulling in the ratings, Howard Beale.
Today is the same as it was thirty six years ago. Everyone clawing and scratching for a dollar. That doesn’t make it right, in fact quite the opposite. That desperation for ratings and money has become frantic to some degree. Maybe today is a little different. But it doesn’t have to be.
I’m still mad. You should be too. The wrongs we see need to be fixed. We need to fix them. Our expectation that someone else is going to fix the world has got to stop. I love a good super-hero as much as the next geek, but they aren’t real.
WE are the super-heroes. It’s up to us to take responsibility for ourselves and hold ourselves accountable for our own actions. And then hold those who work for us accountable for theirs. Who works for us? Anyone you’re paying money to. Networks? Yep. Internet? Yep. Politicians? Especially the politicians. That angry professional athlete throwing a tantrum because he didn’t get his way? Him too. We buy his jerseys, we patronize his team. With our dollars. He works for us. He works for me. I’m not going to hand over my hard earned cash to a grown man who kids look up to, and he can’t treat others with respect. Sure he can be mad too, but…
Howard Beale’s “Angry Man” stunt ultimately proved unsuccessful. It was a novelty, a sparkler on Independence Day that looked real neat and gave us a warm and fuzzy feeling until it fizzled out and we were left with a burnt stick. The true power behind the anger and the yelling is the need for change. The flash of the moment won’t ever last, for Howard Beale, for us, for that angry athlete who will alienate his teammates and the fans.
I made the decision to write. To create. To invent new ideas that would help foster positivity and help good overcome evil. In writing this blog, I’ve managed to not be quite as angry, because I know outright anger isn’t going to do me any good. Or you. I need action. Just saying I’m angry is a little helpful. It’s the moment I need to realize that I need to take real action.
But to do something positive about my anger is the real first step. I need to reach out to others and tell them that maybe life isn’t any more difficult today than it was in 1976. And maybe, just maybe, our world will be even more great and wonderful and amazing in another thirty six years. We may even be a little mad then, too. But hopefully we’ll realize that not all is lost. Because not all is lost…