Oscar Actors: Dunaway, Faye in Network

In most American movies of the era, career women are depicted as “unfeeling monsters.” Faye Dunaway's Oscar-winning role as Diana Christensen, a ruthless, power-hungry television executive in Network, is also more of an abstract type than a fully fleshed human character.

Dunaway might have been rewarded for being a good sport and poking fun at her own screen image as an ambitious career woman. Diana's chief goal in Network is to upgrade the station's ratings, unashamedly boasting, “All I want out of life is a 30 share and 20 rating,” for which she is willing to use illegitimate and disreputable means such as coproducing a program with terrorists.

Obsessed with work, which permeates every aspect of her life, Diana talks about it nonstop, even during a sexual encounter. Diana is further ridiculed when she sets the tone and speed of this encounter with an older, sensitive married executive (William Holden). She sits on top of him and reaches orgasm prematurely, thus imitating what is considered to be a typically masculine sexual pattern.

Needless to say, Diana is efficient and rational, but she's also incapable of any human feelings. Both Network and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest suggest that their feamle protagonists lack and are incapable of any meaningful personal lives outside of their work.