I’ve re-watched a few classic movies recently- and it strikes me as odd how many of them contain words that are probably MORE relevant TODAY than at any other time in history!
Maybe you agree… maybe you don’t… but isn’t that the nice thing about AMERICA? We can both love it and want it to succeed for the good of our families… and PEACEFULLY disagree about how we get there!
It is FINE to disagree! And it is CERTAINLY better than anyone who decides to just “sit it out”. You HAVE to stand up for what you believe in! You can do that without hurting other people, or name-calling, causing other people inconvenience or anxiety, belittling anyone and NOT LISTENING! The BEST thing you can do to serve yourself and mankind: PUT YOURSELF IN THE OTHER PERSON’S SHOES for a moment. Feel what they feel. What are their motivations? Are the motivations fear and anger? Or are the motivations hopeful and compassionate? But whatever you do, don’t just sit there.
As JESUS once said:
I know your deeds; you are neither cold nor hot. How I wish you were one or the other! So because you are lukewarm— neither hot nor cold— I am about to vomit you out of My mouth!
Revelation 3:15 & 16
NOW: BACK TO THE MOVIES….
Let’s start with something REALLY old. CHARLIE CHAPLIN in THE GREAT DICTATOR.
A few things to think about while you read this:
- Chaplin and Hitler were born within a week of one another and they both had ‘THAT” mustache.
- In the film, Chaplin (who plays a Jewish barber) gets mistaken for the Hitler character.
- The film was released in 1940… when America was still ‘at peace’ with the Nazis.
- While Hitler was trying to destroy the Jews in Europe, racial segregation was strictly enforced in much of The United States. Because of Jim Crow laws and by custom, blacks couldn’t eat at a restaurant counter along with whites. They couldn’t use the same water fountain or ride in the same part of the bus. The civil rights movement was still in its infancy. There were no laws ensuring voting rights or equal access to jobs and public facilities, and their wouldn’t be for decades.
- Released in 1940, this speech still has great meaning today.
‘THE GREAT DICTATOR’ SPEECH
“I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone – if possible – Jew, Gentile – black man – white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness – not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way.
Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical. Our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost….
The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men – cries out for universal brotherhood – for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world – millions of despairing men, women, and little children – victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people.
To those who can hear me, I say – do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed – the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish. …..
In the 17th Chapter of St Luke it is written: “the Kingdom of God is within man” – not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people have the power – the power to create machines. The power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure.
Then – in the name of democracy – let us use that power – let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world – a decent world that will give men a chance to work – that will give youth a future and old age a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfill that promise. They never will!
Now let us fight to fulfill that promise! Let us fight to free the world – to do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness. In the name of democracy, let us all unite!”
Another film I would like to explore today: NETWORK
Stuff to know about NETWORK:
- It won four Academy Awards
- It’s about a news network doing poorly in the ratings until its host (Howard Beale) goes nuts and says he is going to kill himself live on the air. The network USES that for ratings. They let the crazy person on the air so they can get high ratings. It gets WAY crazier than that but it is too much to describe here! Watch the damn movie!
- [In my opinion] “NEWS” as we know it was ruined the day the networks started allowing ADVERTISING on it. Having advertisers means you need high ratings. Needing high ratings means doing what audiences react to INSTEAD of REPORTING NEWS. Now we are in a ‘the more shocking the better’ world of News-o-tainment. This movie addresses that and so much more.
- Released in 1976, this speech still has great meaning today.
So now- Without further delay, here is
HOWARD BEALE’S “NETWORK” SPEECH
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. We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TVs 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.
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, god-dammit! 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 gonna 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 gonna 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 gonna take this anymore!’
ONE LAST NOTE
…from the Independence Day speech:
“We can’t be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests. You will once again be fighting for our freedom… Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution… but from annihilation. We are fighting for our right to live. To exist.
We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive!”