Dave Itzkoff at the New York Times has posted a fantastic little excerpt of a conversation he had with Stephen Colbert (out of character!) about Colbert’s love of the movie Network.
If you are a fan of Colbert’s you may not be surprised to hear that the brilliant (and devastating) 1970’s satire about the news industry is Colbert’s favourite.
What you may be surprised to hear is that Colbert is a long-time Glenn Beck fan. Sort of.
Did “Network” in any way inspire the creation of “The Colbert Report”?
A.It’s not an influence for my show, because Beale is a hopeless character who ultimately does not succeed in what he wants to do, and is killed. He’s not a messianic figure. When Glenn Beck started, I listened to Glenn on the radio for years. I thought, this guy’s got something here, but he’s not quite focused. He’s always arguing both sides towards the middle, the fill-airtime behaviour that you hear a lot on talk radio. And then he got his [television] show and he had to focus and do a single hour, and I thought, he’s really got his game now. He’s got one thing and he’s going to ride that pony till it’s dead, then he’s going to the next pony. But always riding in the same direction. And then I read in an article that he was a big fan of Howard Beale. He’s modelling himself on Howard Beale.
A.It was in The New York Times. You should read that paper sometime. He talks about how he was modelling himself on Howard Beale, but also on Jesus and Gandhi. And I thought, Wow, none of those stories end well. That’s what strikes me about Howard Beale. While he’s a heroic figure and a motivational figure, and even though he’s a successful model for today’s news, in broad ways, we forget that William Holden is right: he is mad. And he will end up dead. And that’s the lesson that people forget from that movie. You watch the whole thing, it doesn’t end well for anyone in that movie.
Emphasis mine. Colbert is not the first left-leaning media figure to reveal he was a fan of Glenn Beck’s radio program — Rachel Maddow has also talked about it previously. And his analysis of Beck’s transformation from shock jock to cable TV powerhouse is spot on.
As for the Beck’s ultimate destination…considering the end of the world is scheduled for this Saturday, perhaps we should take a wait and see approach.