Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Fury, anti-politics and Ángel Martín



“Honestly, today I’m fed up with the feeling that it’s you and me who have to swallow.” Ángel Martín got up pissed off on July 19, and said so. very pissed off The 44-year-old comedian and screenwriter makes a daily informative summary that hangs on networks. That day, he didn’t have the body to launch a battery of headlines at breakneck speed. I just wanted to express your outrage with the situation of the last two years and the one to come. In reality, his sights were set on politicians. In all of them.

Politicians were not better before but in the United Kingdom they insist on denying it

Politicians were not better before but in the United Kingdom they insist on denying it

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The allegation included everything that has happened since 2020. The pandemic, obviously. He added “the snowfalls” and “the volcanoes” (was there more than one?). The war in Ukraine and its economic consequences, starting with the price of electricity.

The reason for his outrage? “Half of Spain is on fire, suicides are increasing and I keep hearing that we have to make an effort.” The latter is what is important to him, which infuriates him. Governments have long called for efforts to get out of the successive crises that appear around every corner.

It can become exhausting. That feeling of being a few months away from the next catastrophe, which seems worse than the previous one, because the crises that have already been overcome hurt less. As long as they have been overcome, which is not what anyone who has lost a family member or friend to covid will say.

It is too much to say that a two-minute video can symbolize a state of mind of the population. But it was successful, in addition to a high number of signs of support and rejection. For several media outlets, it was reason enough to publish an article. “Applause in networks”, “Ángel Martín on everyone’s lips”. “Ángel Martín explodes on his newscast.” You don’t have to put too much pressure on the media to publish something on account of a video that has been made viral.

As of Saturday, the video had received 34,000 retweets and 78,000 likes on Twitter. Martín has more than 900,000 followers on that social network.

Fury always has many supporters in times of crisis or maximum uncertainty. That raw, visceral outrage is one of the themes of ‘networking’, an excellent 1976 film directed by Sidney Lumet and whose great creator was the screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky. It received four Oscars, including for actors Peter Finch and Faye Dunaway and for Chayefsky’s screenplay. The latter had previously won two other Oscars for ‘Marty’ and ‘The Hospital’.

The story opens with a newscaster, Howard Beale, played by Finch, being told that he is going to lose his job due to low ratings. Knowing this, he announces on the show that he will commit suicide live in a few days. He is going to be put on the street immediately, but he gets one last chance to say goodbye to the onlookers. What he does is offer a diatribe against everything and project his frustrations. Intervention makes audiences jump.

The chain decides to take advantage of the opportunity and promote its program. In a later one, he launches the message that made the film still remembered.

He appears on the set drenched in rain and wearing a trench coat that he does not take off to intervene in the program. Beale reviews all the crises that afflicted the United States in the seventies, a rather dark time in the country. Unemployment, inflation, bankrupt companies, crime in the cities, an overwhelmed government. Everything that made you think that the US was going to hell. Later, he screams at the spectators to explode, to do something to release that anger that burns their insides (scene dubbed into Spanish).

“I don’t want you to protest,” says Beale. I don’t want you to start a riot. I don’t want you writing letters to your congressman. Because I couldn’t tell you what you have to write. I don’t know what to do with the recession and the inflation and the defense budget and the Russians and the crime in the streets. All I want is for you to go crazy. You have to say, ‘I’m a human being, damn it. My life matters.’ So I want you to get up. I want you to get up from your seats and go out to the window. Right now. I want you to go to the window, open it, stick your head out and scream. I want you to shout: ‘I’m furious and I can’t take it anymore’.

There is no political idea in your complaint. No alternative. “We’ll deal with it after the recession and the oil crisis,” he says. He just raw rage. People start going out to the windows. The director of entertainment programs (Faye Dunaway) is delighted. Audience success is assured and she has ideas – some more crazy than Beale’s message – to maintain those figures.

The satirical vision of television, which at times reaches the macabre, made it receive as many good reviews (The New York Times) as bad (The New Yorker). Its content was almost incendiary because Paddy Chayefsky wanted it to be so. His vision was directed more against television – which he called “an indestructible and terrifying giant more powerful than the Government” – than against politics, but there were many other things that infuriated him.

To two television journalists who did not like it, he wrote to say that the film was not intended as an attack on television, but “a metaphor for the rest of time.”

There he was completely right. Since then, it has been said that she was ahead of her time. “No one who has predicted the future, not even Orwell, has been as right as Chayefsky was when he wrote ‘Network,’” writer-director Aaron Sorkin has written.

Another memorable scene from ‘Network’ it’s the meeting where the owner of the corporation that owns the television network tells Howard Beale what it’s all about. “America no longer exists. Democracy no longer exists. There are only IBM, ITT, AT&T, DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today, ”he tells the open-mouthed presenter, dwarfed by the overwhelming reality that he is hearing and in which he had not noticed.

As a satire and warning of what was to come in the future, the film It still works as it did at the time of its release. He even anticipated – and that is something that Chayefsky could not foresee – the rage that propelled Donald Trump to the US presidency in 2016. In that campaign, his white supporters did not hide that they were fed up with the direction of their country and they couldn’t take it anymore. Angry at women and the feminist movement, at black people and their fight against racism, at East Coast elites and their ideas about minority rights, at big corporations taking jobs overseas.

They passionately bought the merchandise Trump sold them. He would make America great again (“Make America Great Again”), as it had been in previous decades when those who now demanded their rights were silent and resigned to their fate.

The manipulation of anger against politicians and against a modern world that is not what it was has also been a very profitable tool for the extreme right in Europe. He has led Marine Le Pen to run for the presidency of France in the second round of elections on two occasions. This year it has propelled Giorgia Meloni to the top of the polls in Italy.

In Spain, it has been an essential part of the Vox diet and its rejection of immigration, feminists, journalists and the autonomous State that encompasses a whole that is supposedly sinking the country. That enemy is not even only national, since it includes the ghostly concept of globalism, with which the UN and the European Union are also mentioned.

The alternatives offered are scarce and, for example, they do not differ much from those of the right in economic policy. What really matters is that Vox voters should be furious about everything they don’t like, their leaders tell them. The slogan “only Vox remains” makes it clear that all other politicians, whether left or right, are equally guilty.

Ángel Martín’s message against politicians, visceral and accelerated, is not identical to that of Vox, but draws on the sources that have made that party and other far-right parties grow in the rest of Europe. Martín is pissed off because citizens are asked to “effort” and he firmly believes that it is others who have to make an effort/suffer. “The fucking little effort must be made by those who are in charge (the Government) and those who want to be” (the opposition).

Citizens have already done enough, he says. In an almost magical way, you have to ensure that no crisis affects them after everything they’ve been through. “For once in a fucking life, they should understand that the ones who have to make the effort and stop shitting are them, because I have no fucking idea what the solution is, but I doubt very much that you can’t buy a fucking watermelon, or turn on the air or put gasoline.

Martin doesn’t have solutions, just as Howard Beale didn’t know what to do with all those problems that drove him crazy. But in the video he demands that gasoline and electricity be cheaper. How? It is not known. What more would governments like than to be able to lower prices by decree. No European government has so far succeeded in curbing inflation since it began to take off.

Regarding the pandemic, citizens were ordered to stay home in the first wave of 2020. It was an obvious sacrifice, but what was the alternative? Continue leading a normal life, get infected and die?

Anti-politics is a fantastic remedy to release tension. You don’t have to think about looking for solutions. It is enough to be indignant and accuse those who rule. Ten years ago, the rumor was spread that there were 455,000 politicians in Spain, a lie that intended two things, to point out the only ones to blame for everything that went wrong and to suggest that most of the problems would be solved with fewer politicians.

It is always forgotten that politics also serves to recognize rights, allocate resources to those who have the least and share the burdens of a difficult economic situation. Just because it’s not always used that way doesn’t mean it never had that function.

It’s easier to get angry and go out the window.

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