Still “mad as hell”

Trump and Israel bashing have become interchangeable givens at celebrity functions and this writer has had enough.

Jack Engelhard

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צילום: מתוך האתר האישי

Generally, I don’t like to run long quotes, but for Paddy Chayefsky, attention must be paid, as follows:  

“Before I get on to the Writing Award, there's a little matter I'd like to tidy up, at least if I expect to live with myself tomorrow morning.

“I would like to say - personal opinion, of course - that I'm sick and tired of people exploiting the occasion of the Academy Awards (loud cheers) for the propagation of their own personal political propaganda (cheers). I would like to suggest to Miss Redgrave that her winning an Academy Award is not a pivotal moment in history, does not require a proclamation and a simple ‘thank you’ would have sufficed (cheers and applause).”

That was 1978, at the Oscars, and Chayefsky (1923-1981) was mad as hell over Vanessa Redgrave’s remark moments earlier about “Zionist hoodlums.”

She was being rewarded for her role in “Julia,” and not for Best Supporting ingénue for the PLO, which was then hijacking airplanes; notably Entebbe, June 27, 1976.

Did she set the trend for mixing dirty politics with glitzy show business at all these award gatherings? Likely so.

These days, no celebrity function goes without some snobby reference to Trump, who often serves as a stand-in for Israel. The two have become interchangeable.

Chayefsky was one of the pioneers of the new realism, where voices from the tenements were finally being heard, the grittier the better.

He was there in his tux in time to correct the British actress, whose grudge against Israel preceded her. Chayefsky was on stage as a presenter. Two years before he’d picked up the Oscar for his “Network” screenplay that, through fictional anchorman Howard Beale, scorched media greed and mendacity during Beales’ now iconic “mad as hell and not going to take this anymore” rant.

That is one harangue still playing and serviceable for nearly all occasions.

Through Beale (played to the hilt by Peter Finch), Chayefsky has his say about the de-humanizing effect of cultish group-think, how big television represents Big Brother in every home, and how we are being brainwashed into a generation of zombies. He argues that what we are being given as news is really leftist pabulum. For the authoritative book on the media, read this.

The news is not intended to enlighten us, but to sell us something. We are being targeted and homogenized.

“The individual is dead,” cries Beale, and we can only wonder what Chayefsky would make of social media… where today one man alone potentially controls the minds of two billion people… if Chayefsky were still with us today. In a sense, he is, through his works, so very much alive. For the movies, his big three, “Marty,” 1955, and “The Hospital,” 1971” and “Network,” 1976, all won him screenplay Oscars.

So much has changed since all that, and so much more is the same.

Our entertainment culture belongs to one side only, and so if you take any awards show, there you will find someone who will smash-mouth Trump, and then await the applause like candy.

That was the scene again Sunday night at the Tony Awards where Bryan Cranston won for Best Actor in, ironically, the Broadway stage version of “Network.”

“A simple thank you would be sufficient,” as Chayefsky would say, but Cranston felt the need to take a swipe at Trump, sermonizing that “the media is not the enemy of the people. Demagoguery is the enemy of the people.” Wink-wink. For some reason, the ovation was not as resounding as customary.

Well, it was late in the evening, and people were getting tired – or perhaps tired of hitting on Trump all the time.

This much is different…

Back then Redgrave was jeered by entertainment notables for her anti-Israel scoffery, and Chayefsky was cheered for setting her straight.

The bet here is that these days, due to decades of news cleansing, it would be the reverse.

New York-based bestselling American novelist Jack Engelhard writes regularly for Arutz Sheva.

He is the author of the international book-to-movie bestseller “Indecent Proposal.” His latest is the newsroom drama “News Anchor Sweetheart.”  His Inside Journalism thriller, “The Bathsheba Deadline,” is being prepared for the movies. Contemporaries have hailed him “The last Hemingway, a writer without peer, and the conscience of us all.” Website: