The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

Yes, Paddy Chayefsky was a prophet

Further evidence that the great movie “Network” wasn’t a satire, but a prophecy. NBC News correspondent Natalie Morales has lent her name and credibility (whatever is left of it) to “The Marriage Ref,” Jerry Seinfeld’s attempt at reality TV comedy. As the website MediaBistro noted:

“Marriage Ref” is a new Jerry Seinfeld-produced reality show where a panel of celebrity judges weigh in on a married couple’s disagreements. Morales serves under the title “Just the Facts Ma’am,” where she provides oddball factoid information.The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes today, “‘Marriage Ref’ is a cute enough show but is it really necessary to drag the NBC News brand through the mindless entertainment?” Entertainment Weekly’s Ken Tucker writes, “Far from being dismayed that a TV-news person would agree to sit onstage trolling Google for factoids about how using a stripper pole ‘burns 250 calories an hour,’ I applaud Morales for showing both a sense of humor and the simple truth about TV-news readers — i.e., these people aren’t exactly investigative journalists.”


NBC tells us Morales will be a regular on the comedy show and that her participation “was vetted and approved by NBC News, and it has no effect on her role as an anchor and correspondent for NBC News.”

You can see the tacky and tasteless results for yourself below, in a brief excerpt.

Meantime, below is a classic moment from “Network” that shows the brilliance of screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky — and, not insignificantly, the genius of Peter Finch, too, who won a posthumous Oscar for this performance. Over 30 years later, it still stings.  (Anyone who has seen even snippets of Beck or Olbermann can feel here the queasy sense of deja vu.)  Warning: profanity ahead…


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Dcn Scott

posted March 2, 2010 at 12:09 am

I couldn’t agree more with what you express here, Greg. A hearty- Amen from a deacon in a fly-over state! It seems we live in a time when more of us should be mad as hell and refusing to take it anymore. I just posted another scathing post about Goldman, of the kind I posted back at the end of 2008, beginning of 2009. It dovetails nicely with what you write here about the state of media. We need to start paying attention!

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Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

posted March 2, 2010 at 10:13 am

As a 30-year veteran of the media business-turned-church employee and lay minister, I am weeping. What has become of us? You and Scott are both spot on – we must pay attention and we must be vigilant. It is like Rome before the fall.

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posted March 2, 2010 at 1:05 pm

Deacon Colin

posted March 2, 2010 at 8:11 pm

With the advent of digital we lost the signal here at the bottom of the waterfall. The ‘no television’ is not missed terribly. Its absence is no magic elixir either.
The internet is still there, and it too is not without its dangers and pitfalls, even if the ability to select is better.
But withdrawal from the world isn’t the thing. Technology isn’t evil per se either. Besides, as a preacher you need to be able to speak to the thing of the day.
The trick is to be grounded somewhere other than the TV/Internet/Radio/iPod/Whatever is next. Something else needs to be the center about which we orbit. Something else needs to be where the bulk of our time/mind/heart is. That is the thing.
Great clip.

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posted March 2, 2010 at 10:01 pm

FWIW — I stopped watching on a regular basis television of any kind about 1970 when I went off to college and, after graduation,into the Army. I found reality so much more interesting.

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ronald knox

posted March 3, 2010 at 10:01 am

The mass media is the most powerful force in American society today. It has molded us and it has set our social, moral and political agendas. Entertainemnt is king and will remain so. There is nothing more powerful, not even the much talked about “military-industrial complex”. What we have now is a “Media-Entertainemnt-Government-Industrial complex” that rules the way Americans think. The Church will never catch up to the sophisticated monster of the mass media; but the power of the Church is to be countercultural and against this monster. It is ironic that a 30 year old media produced program is our point of prophecy.

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