In Honor Of Ned Beatty: 'The World Is A College Of Corporations'

Character actor Ned Beatty passed away on Sunday from natural causes at the age of 83.

Beatty first gained prominence in the 1972 “Deliverance” and would appear in classic films including “Nashville” (1975), “All the President’s Men” (1976), “Superman” (1978) and "Rudy" (1993).

Beatty’s sole Academy Award nomination was for the 1976 “Network,” for a single scene lasting less than five minutes. He was a last-minute addition after the original actor cast in the role was deemed unsatisfactory, and he had one day to learn his part in the Paddy Chayefsky-authored script.

Beatty was mostly filmed at the end of a massive board of directors table, and he delivered his lines with an operatic fury:

What He Said: Beatty played Arthur Jensen, the board chairman of the television network whose news anchor Howard Beale (Peter Finch) advocated against a multimillion deal between the network and an Arab business consortium, resulting in the collapse of the transaction. Jensen uses a one-on-one meeting with Beale to berate his interference in the deal and to school him in how corporations run the planet.

“You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples,” Beatty’s Jensen declares at the top of his lungs. “There are no nations. There are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There are no Third Worlds. There is no West. There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multivariate, multinational dominion of dollars. Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, reichmarks, rins, rubles, pounds, and shekels.”

Jensen goes further in tearing down the traditional concept of geographical borders and replacing them with corporate ideologies.

“There is no America,” he continues. “There is no democracy. There is only IBM and ITT and AT&T and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today.”

Jensen, who insists “the world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable bylaws of business,” goes further in insisting this has not been a recent development, but rather an obvious evolution that many people failed to acknowledge.

“The world is a business, Mr. Beale,” he says. “It has been since man crawled out of the slime. And our children will live, Mr. Beale, to see that perfect world in which there's no war or famine, oppression or brutality – one vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock, all necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused.”

Why It Mattered: “Network” was released in the post-Vietnam and post-Watergate era when public trust in authority was plummeting. The satiric element of the film was to devastate the mass media, which helped fuel public anger against government and many corporate elements. In “Network,” the media was no longer the messenger of truth, but rather the corporate equivalent of a cynical show business carny offering zany distractions to a public that preferred to be amused than informed.

Ironically, Beatty lost the Best Supporting Actor Oscar to another performance in a media-focused film: Jason Robards’ role as Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee in “All the President’s Men,” a dramatization of how reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein exposed the Watergate scandal that brought down Richard Nixon’s presidency.

See Also: Benzinga Stock Market Live: Top Stocks for the Week?

(Photo of Ned Beatty in “Network” courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.)

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