The Glass Teat: November 1, 1968
Well, since what with the replay of the Chicago Democratic National Convention in microcosm all over the country and such like, I'm going to plow ahead and try to do BOTH volumes of The Glass Teat, aiming for one post a day, from now until I either get through both books or my internet is cut off for posting subversive propaganda.
Let's see how things were 43 years ago - some of this is going to sound like cut'n'paste from today's headlines.
November 1st - Ellison is defending himself against various slings & arrows and all like that there, what with being called a big meanie (leading to one of my all-time favorite Ellsionisms: "...a threat roughly as imposing as telling a man who has just crawled out of the Gobi Desert on his hands and knees that he cannot have a peanut butter sandwich") and refusing to nark on information sources at CBS. Which leads directly to a comment about a rep from ABC-TV defending the show The Mod Squad in front of a Senate investigating committee on TV violence - oh, yes, children, they wasted time on shit like TV violence back then, too. Said rep defended the show on the grounds that it encouraged a young woman to become and undercover source for the LAPD and report on her associates and their drug activities - which, I suppose, is just so much better than TV violence. Good patriotic citizens keep their eyes open for signs of dissent, after all!
Ellison then points out that he's been slagged by commentators for being such a sourpuss about what's on TV, and responds by listing some things he genuinely appreciates and recommends, including Laugh-In, The Smothers Bros. Comedy Hour, Mission: Impossible, and, surprise, Adam-12, which he refers to as "[v]ery nice, very realistic, and almost too damned good to believe...".
Of course, being cuddly is not Ellison, so he then goes on to imagine some truly tasteless TV offerings such as BERKOWITZ OF BELSEN! ("With the success of POW camp shows like Hogan's Heroes, the next natural step is a funny series about a Nazi extermination camp."), FREAKOUT! ("A weekly series of music and blackouts featuring kids who've been committed to the UCLA Intensive Care ward, acid-victims all."), A MAN CALLED REX! ("A situation comedy about Oedipus and his Mom."), and, pertinent to recent events, CHICAGO SIGNAL 39! ("...a pair of Chicago flying squad cops assigned to the Special Riot Detail. Homespun comedy about mace and mad dogs.")
"This is only a sampling of the wonders modern TV could provide, if they would only carry to logical extremes what is already being delivered to the public."
Just a pussycat, that's Harlan for you.