The Glass Teat: November 29, 1968
The subject this week is a thing called The Groovy Show, one of those long-gone dancing & variety shows where some adult host would spin young folk's records while trying not to look severely out of place amid dancing teens. "It's got a good beat, and you can dance to it! I give it an eight!" and that kind of stuff.
Anyway, the resident eye candy on display on The Groovy Show was one Kam Nelson, who Ellison was assured by the producers was an exceptional Renaissance Gal who all but cured the common cold with one hand behind her back - and yet - well, let's let Harlan explain it:
"Let's take her stint on last Thursday's show. Mr Riddle [the adult host] called her out and she emerged suitably micro-mini'd. He asked her what she'd been doing lately. She stared at him for several beats with wide, innocent eyes and then mumbled something about having gone to 'the liberry' (sic) for research on marriage in Scandinavia. Riddle seemed to think that was pretty exciting, and asked her what she'd found out. Then emerged from Miss Nelson's mouth a syntactical jumble of half-sentences drenched with 'yeahs', 'uh-huhs' and ending lamely with 'T don't really know'. (Everything she comments on ends with 'I don't really know'.)
"Later, in an effort to get her to haul her own weight, he cleverly tried to introduce the second record by asking her something about French, I believe it was the word for bicycle. Once again there were mumblings and mouthings and Riddle, now floundering, went to the record. Yet just before it cut in, he could be heard asking her with something akin to bemused impatience, 'What do you mean, "you don't know"?'"
This wonderous Bubblehead Barbie performance is all the more pleasant given the assertion by the producer that "the kids seem to identify with her". Apparently whatever Miss Nelson's talents and skills outside the show, displaying those would have been inappropriate and risked alienating her peers - therefore the Little Miss Ditz performance.
She's not supposed to raise consciousness or educate - if they had wanted to do that, they'd naturally have brought on a guy instead.
She's just a girl, after all.
Can't be expecting her to remember her French or paying attention to what she read at the liberry or things like that. Don't worry your little head, sweetie. Just sit back and let the nice responsible people do your worrying and thinking for you. See the bad people in Iran? Don't they look scary? Boy, are they scary. Maybe we need to bomb them. But we'll take care of that. Look at the nice man on TV! His hair is so nice. Don't you think he should be President? Look at all those dirty hippies! What are they saying? Well, it's just too confusing, so we'll say they're just not saying anything at all. Let the police take care of them... they're there to protect and serve, after all.
To some extent, as far as the media's concerned we're ALL "just a girl", I guess.)
"Television is too potent a medium, too exacting an educational force, for anyone to dismiss even a boondock area such as The Groovy Show and its ability to shape and mold manners or morals.
"No, I would not have a 17-year-old girl genius on The Groovy Show; but neither would I have Susie Sparkle set up as the end-all and be-all for emerging personalities. What is wrong with Miss Nelson as a Force in our times is what is wrong about the Miss America contests and all the other shallow, phony shucks put over on kids too young to separate the wheat from the chaff.
"And in conclusion, I trust Miss Nelson and her attorneys will understand that while I may have nothing but the highest regard for her as a human being, it is the slapstick number she proffers six times a week on television that needs some examination. I think women are, uh, groovier than that."