James Waterhouse: Satire in ‘Network´ and other audio-visual works


My video essay will focus on the concept of ‘satire’ and how various satirical techniques are used within the medium of film and television particularly in relation to the film Network (Sidney Lumet, USA, 1976) but I will also use extracts from Heathers: The TV series (Paramount, USA, 2018), Summer Heights High (ABC, Australia, 2007) and Good Morning Vietnam (Adrian Cronauer, USA, 1987) to further emphasises my points and back up the statements made about Network. Satire is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as the use of humour, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues. The main two aspects of satire that I will focus in depth on are Irony and Exaggeration. Irony is the expression of one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect. I will explore this in relation to a scene from Network in which Diana (Faye Dunaway) and Max (William Holden) engage in sex whilst still talking about their production careers. I will then perform a sub investigation into how music is a main tool for creating a satirical effect by exploring the satirical use of ‘What a Wonderful World’ by Louis Armstrong in Good Morning Vietnam and ‘Hold On For One More Day’ by Wilson Phillips in Heathers. I will demonstrate the effect of these musical pieces by replacing ‘Hold On For One More Day’ with Ava Max’s ‘Sweet But Psycho’ and Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake It Off’, both this songs create very different effects and meanings when overlayed with the Heathers clip. Exaggeration is a statement that represents something as better or worse than it really is. I will explore exaggeration by looking at a clip from Network in which we are introduced to the supporting cast of The Howard Beale Show, I will re-cut the clip to show the cast revealed in a different order to demonstrate how satirical effect is created in the scene by the gradual exaggeration of the stupidity of the supporting cast, when recut to put the most absurd characters first, the satirical effect doesn’t appear the same. Finally I will explore how Irony and exaggeration can be present in the same moment in order to create a fully satirical effect, I will demonstrate this with a ‘terrorist drill’ clip from Summer Heights High followed by Howard Beales (Peter Finch) on air declaration of suicide from Network.

The essay will have an overall educational tone that aims to highlight the different satirical

techniques that are used in satirical films and television satire. I will also incorporate the technique of exaggeration into the form of the video essay as an intertextual way of demonstrating how anyone can use exaggeration, I will draw attention to the sometimes excessive and over-the-top nature of some video essays during the opening and closing moments of my video essay in a form that satirises video essays themselves.

James Waterhouse


ABC, Summer Heights High, Australia, 2007 Cronauer, Adrian, Good Morning Vietnam, USA, 1987 Lumet, Sidney, Network, USA, 1976

Paramount, Heathers: The TV series, USA, 2018

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