When Howard Beale, the anchor of UBS Evening News learns that his days are numbered because of low ratings, he threatens to commit suicide while on the air and is immediately fired. However, he convinces his bosses to allow him one last broadcast so that he can retire with dignity. They agree, but instead of apologising and going away quietly, he has a crazy rant on air, with the result that there is a huge spike in ratings. The network then decide to exploit Howard’s mental state by giving him his own show. ‘The Howard Beale show’ adverstises him as ‘the mad prophet of the airwaves’ and attracts the highest ratings on television. The following speech is one of the Howard’s on-air rants…
I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. 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 streets, and there’s nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do and there’s no end to it. We know the air’s unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat and we sit and watch our teevees while some local newscaster tells us today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be. We all know things are bad. Worse than bad. They’re crazy. It’s like everything’s going crazy. So we don’t go out any more. We sit in the house and slowly the world we live in gets smaller and all we ask is, please, at least leave us alone in our own living rooms. Let me have my toaster and TV and my hairdryer and my steel-belted radials and I won’t say anything, just leave us alone. Well, I’m not going to leave you alone. I want you to get mad. (He gets up from his desk and walks to the front of the set.)
I don’t want you to protest. I don’t want you to riot. I don’t want you to write to your congressmen. 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 defense budget and the Russians and crime in the street. All I know is, first you’ve got to get mad. You’ve got to say: ‘I’m a human being, goddammit. My life has value.’ So I want you to get up right now. I want you to get out of your chairs and go to the window. Right now. I want you to go to the window, open it and stick your head out and yell. I want you to yell, ’I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more.’
Get up from your chairs. Go to the window. Open it. Stick out your head and yell. And keep yelling. First you’ve got to get mad. When you’re mad enough we’ll figure out what to do. Stick your head out and yell, ’I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more.’ ‘I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more.’ ‘I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more.’
That’s it. I’ve had it with the foreclosures and the oil crisis and the unemployment and the corruption of finance and the inertia of politics and the right to be alive and the right to be angry. I want to hear the little man and woman — I want to hear you now — go to your windows — yell out so they can hear you — yell and don’t stop yelling — so the whole world can hear you — above the chaos and degradation the apathy and white noise.
They’re yelling in Chicago. Yell, yell, and then we’ll work out what to do about terrorism and the oil crisis. Stick your head out of the window and shout it with me: ’I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more. I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take this any more. I’M MAD AS HELL AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANY MORE.’