THE GLASS TEAT & THE OTHER GLASS TEAT
Dear God, we must face the truth: for the mass in America today, the most powerful media of education and information has become a surrogate of Linus's blue blanket.
A ghastly glass teat!
--- 8 Nov 68
But make no mistake. I am not really talking about TV here. I am talking about dissidence, repression, censorship, the threat of the Comman Man, the dangers of being passive in a time when the individual is merely cannon-fodder, the lying and cheating and killing our "Patriots" do in the sweet name of the American Way.
--- Glass Teat introduction
THE GLASS TEAT unites Harlan's television criticism for the Los Angeles Free Press from October of 1968 to January of 1970.
It is out of print. Langerhans info page: http://www.islets.net/essays/glassteat.html.
THE OTHER GLASS TEAT has the columns from Febuary of 1970 to May of 1972.
Also out of print. Langerhans info page: http://www.islets.net/essays/otherteat.html
Mike Zuzel's Glass Teat info page | The luxurious Charnel House omnibus edition was released summer of 2011. An E-Reads edition will come out around the summer of 2012.
All comments appreciated. Optional questions:
1. How did you learn about the book and when did you buy and read it? 2. What do you think of the book? 3. Has it influenced you? 4. Have you read other books on the subject? 5. Which essay stands out for you? 6. Where was Harlan wrong? 7. Which of Harlan's findings are still valid today or even more valid? 8. Were you ever a "victim" of television? 9. What are the worst aspects of television today? 10. What is your favorite show (up to three)?
A one-volume edition of both GLASS TEATS was planned as volume 5 of the EDGEWORKS series before it was cancelled. Perhaps someone knows more about the current status of the books and could post the info.
Harlan has written and spoken about television outside of these books, for example in Revealed at Last! What Killed the Dinosaurs... (from STRANGE WINE) which we discussed here: http://harlanellison.com/heboard/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1090
Please observe the S.P.I.D.E.R. rules - stay on topic.
A rough guide to the books
Work-in-progress. Suggestions welcome.
* Entries of particular importance.
+ Entries that made me laugh
The Glass Teat
New introduction (1983) -- On politically motivated attempts to silence Harlan after publication *
Original introduction -- What the column is and how it came about
10/4 -- TV’s war on dissent *
10/10 -- Black heroes and Mod Squad *
10/18 -- Slanted newscasts / tv violence debate *
10/25 -- Music on television speaks of generation gap
11/1 -- Threats to Harlan / Recommended tv shows
11/8 -- Nielsen Top 10 - Escapism / also: TIME magazine *
11/15 -- Elections - The Show Biz Politician / Viet Nam dissenters punished heroes *
11/22 -- Harlan failed to make an impact on The Joe Pyne Show / also: more examples of opinion manipulation
11/29 -- Deification of banality, illiteracy - new role models *+
12/5 -- How shows get on the air / The FCC / Renumeration for writers *
12/13 -- Blacks - segment of The Name of the Game
12/28 -- Saturday morning cartoon favorites
1/3 -- Yippies tv statement irresponsible in war against Establishment / also: Stevie Wonder & a man on the moon
1/10 -- L.A. reputation confirmed by Bowl, Roses Parade
1/17 -- Experiencing all-night movies +
1/24 -- Bad manners on talk shows *+
1/31 -- Harlan to write segment of The Name of the Game (TV script part 1)
2/14 -- Chemical-biological warfare experiments in U.S. *
2/21 -- The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour too risky for network / also: Laugh-In, "The Oscar"
2/28 -- Establishment strikes back: What's It All About, World?
3/9 -- ABC cowards drop Those Were The Days
3/14 -- Religion evil and debilitating force *
3/21 -- Harlan in Rio, manifesto, Smothers Brothers, Harlan's TV script part 2, Glen Campbell, Leigh Chapman
3/28 -- Use of tax money, Viet Nam, economical inequality *
4/8 -- Harlan's TV script part 3 / Violent, smutty scripts killed / also: Harlan's series part 1
4/25 -- Doctors: bland tv heroes
5/2 -- Case for stronger second leads
5/9 -- L.A. Police Chief's news show: yet another voice from the right
5/9 -- Lecture experiences in Texas *
5/23 -- Texas: underprivileged, emerging nation *
5/16 -- Writers share responsibility for quality of television *
5/30 -- News reporters focusing on celebrities at Grape Pickers' Strike
6/6 -- Mod Squad better, NET (precursor of PBS), Harlan's TV script part 4 (last), also: L.A. mayoral elections
6/13 -- Harlan's policy regarding good TV / Widows, widowers as series leads / also: Reagan
8/1 -- Harlan's busy summer, persona non grata with Guild, airplane encounter, Moon landing, Mick Jagger & Tom Jones, Harlan's fandom days, The King Family, filthy language bleeped
8/15 -- How TV portrays women *
8/22 -- "Blue eyed" soul music & Elyse Weinberg / also: Drugs
8/29 -- Chicago race riots 1961 / Elyse Weinberg treated badly by The Johnny Carson Show / Black comedians who desert their people / also: The Godfather (novel)
9/19 -- TV in Brazil controlled by dictatorial establishment / also: Moon landing, Rio *+
9/26 -- Smothers Brothers, CBS / Cosby Show / capsule reviews: The Bold Ones, My World - And Welcome to It, The Debbie Reynolds Show, The Courtship of Eddie's Father, Bracken's World / also: Harlan's uncle in WWII
10/3 -- Marijuana / Anniversary - a look back / capsule reviews: To Rome with Love, The Bold Ones, Music Scene, The New People
10/10 -- Harold Robbins and The Survivors *+
10/17 -- White middle-class pro-war and paranoid *
10/25 -- White middle-class racist, conclusions
10/31 -- Spelling's The Monk clichéd, My World and Welcome to It is good sitcom +
11/14 -- The New People now spoiled by writing / Music Scene still on +
11/28 -- Art Linkletter part of hypocritical TV establishment, tragic figure
12/5 -- My Lai massacre, denied by government/TV *
1/2 -- Poisoned By The Fangs of Spiro: Part I (report on personal experiences in Dayton, Ohio; limits of free speech)
1/9 -- Poisoned By The Fangs of Spiro: Part II (lecture cancelled - pretexts and repercussions)
1/23 -- Poisoned By The Fangs of Spiro: Part III (Spiro Agnew; Writers Guild complains about censorship) *
1/30 -- "Addendum to Dayton": Student approvement of Ellison
The Other Glass Teat
Introduction (1975) -- "Days of Blood and Sorrow" (Nixon gone, television unchanged)
2/13 -- Nanny and the Professor nitwitty / also: George Hamilton in Paris 7000, "Patton", basketball mania
2/20 -- F-310 gas additive good news for environment, doing what one can, Ed Bryant
2/27 -- TV not reaching young people so positive changes to be expected
3/6 -- F-310 under attack / Ed Sullivan Show Beatles tribute / Hell's Angels at Rolling Stones concert in Altamont
3/13 -- Video Voyeurism (1) - beautiful women everywhere on TV
3/20 -- Pseudo-SF ABC movie The Love War (Aaron Spelling) praised by The Hollywood Reporter +
3/27 -- Video Voyeurism (2) - male watchers teased
4/3 -- F-310: scam / no time to answer mail / axed or new: Land of the Giants, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Paris 7000, The Young Lawyers (Zalman King), The Young Rebels, Dial Hot Line +
4/24 -- Ellison at universities Kansas, Buffalo: people using the Movement for their own ends and getting away with it; black people
5/1 -- Verisimilitude in TV scripts / touching on: research, audience sophistication, hack writing, Writer's Guild, Harlan's Ripcord incident, Cimarron Strip, Land of the Giants, Elia Kazan, The Lovin' Spoonful
May 12th, 2010: Check back as the list grows - I'm reading the books now. I have also cleaned up the thread (removed off-topic comments) - that helped.
Below, I'm leaving my old opening remarks since some people made reference to them. I didn't manage to read much of the book that year but did later and posted new comments then.
I'm reading the first one now - I find that I tend to skip stuff that seems to be outdated or deal with shows I'm not familiar with, except when Harlan uses something as an example to launch into more general comments about society and morality (his university lectures in Texas, the rudeness on the Merv Griffin show). That stuff doesn't go away, it's still current. I also always enjoy it when Harlan talks about his own professional life - I sort of hope his NAME OF THE GAME script will get produced, as well as MAN OUT OF TIME, except I know that they haven't been. The book is sort of a time capsule, but really, perhaps things haven't changed all that much.
Looking back, I think the period he wrote the columns in wasn't an important time for television, such as the early sixties or the past decade. Most of the shows have been forgotten, and not only the things that deserve to be.
I wish Harlan would do a new introduction for the upcoming editions that focus on what's different (better/worse) now than it was in 1969.
I may come back and comment on particular entries or whatever is said here. I hope we can also have some opinions about the books in general.