I’m not sure you can understand the movie Network, without understanding the 1970s. Either through living through that decade, which I did the last four years of it, not much to go on, or reading about it, watching documentaries about that decade, or talking to people who lived through that decade and remember the whole decade or at least most of it and are knowledgable about it. Network was about contemporary media and now the news media was becoming more tabloid and if anything has moved much further in that direction ever since, but it was also about the 1970s and the cultural depression that Americans were going through, really that whole decade.
As far as Howard Beale’s commentary about the individual being finished, I agree with him to a certain extent, but I would put it differently. Americans traditionally have been very individualist and big believers in individualism. Even our Far-Left believes in a certain level of individualism. Americans have a tradition of wanting to be happy and achieving happiness for themselves and their families. Not wanting to be dictated to on how to live and what it means to be an American. Being able to achieve their version of the American dream and not feeling the need to conform to society. That in many cases is gone now.
America has moved away from being that rugged individualist society where we as people go out to make a good life for ourselves and be ourselves as individuals, to now becoming a society that is about fitting in and being one of the crowd and like everyone else. Our culture and lifestyles now are a perfect example of that with so many Americans now sounding like so many other Americans with so many cliché’s and catch phrases becoming exactly that, because they are used so many times. Because we have so many people who talk like so many other people, without much of an ability to think and speak for themselves. So they talk like other people.
For me as both a liberal and individualist, I always want to have that be those things. And not find myself in a position where I need to listen to other people simply so I know how to talk and communicate. Not just the words I use, but how I use them and what my body language is telling other people. I want to be me the individual and be that one person for everyone else to see. Whether that person is considered, well awesome (speaking of cliché’s) by everyone else. Because at least I’ll know who I am and that I’m still a person, an individual and not a member of any group.