The Glass Teat

The Glass Teat

by Harlan Ellison

The founders of modern literary fancy deserve their own place in the light. The Borealis Legends line is a tribute to the creators of the science fiction, fantasy and horror genres as we know them today.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Nonfiction
  • Rating: 4.17
  • Pages: 319
  • Publish Date: May 1st 1983 by Ace
  • Isbn10: 0441289886
  • Isbn13: 9780441289882

Read the Book "The Glass Teat" Online

Many of the television shows and films he reviews are long forgotten, but the meaning of his message is still clear.

The Glass Teat was a column by Ellison in The L.A. Free Press in the 70s (I think).

I'm old enough to remember most of the TV shows that Ellison discusses, and in some cases, I wish he'd gone into more detail (he reserves the detail for the stuff he didn't like). The essays not only paint a picture of how a certain type of person thought in 1969, but of Ellison himself; there are essays in which he is clearly oblivious to the way he appears and sounds to others around him, and any conflicts he runs into are entirely the fault of the dunderheads he's forced to deal with. Ellison's imagination of 1980, for example, includes a never-ending Vietnam war, Nixon still in office, rationing, and "dissidents" all forced underground and hunted down by law enforcement like resisters in WWII France.

We now know that year or so after the column was written, the show was picked up by CBS and the rest is literal TV history. In another column, describing his march with Cesar Chavez, he repeatedly mentions how impressed he was with one of Chavez's supporters named "Joe Serda".

Some excerpts to make you want to check out this remarkable read from the past and sadly, see, so much of our future. She is the vapid, elevated to godhood....for teen-age girls whose larval stage was informed by the Barbie doll, this cocoon stage with Kam Nelson as the role-model can only prepare the emergence into adult hood not as butterflies, but as moths, fit for little better than dull lives of crabgrass, Blue Chip Stamps and quiet desperation." Re What's It All About, World, a right-wing satirical answer to Laugh-In and The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, starring Dean Jones: (after remarking that "Happy Hollywood," a child singer appeared as "a five- or six-year old Shirley Temple surrogate with a face as evil as one of the Borgias and that, by then, the show kept on going "on in this vein for several years"): "the big extravaganze number was a Paean of Praise to Richard Milhous Nixon," an "Ode to the Odious." ..."It might more appropriately be titled The Establishment Strikes Back." "But let a determined and tv-primed hero step forward whose compulsions drive him toward oppression and repression...and we would have about as much of a chance for survival as a snail in a bucket of salt." You get the idea...just so many gems, so much foresight. Also predicts the legalization of marijuana, discusses biker thugs defending America by violence, against Jews, African American, LGBTQ's communists, Catholics, Freemasons, hippies and all other species they cannot abide; and on Dec 3, 1969, when the Writers Guild of America, West took issue with Vice President Spiro Agnew attacking the right of the news and editorial media freely to analyze and criticize statements and policies of the (then) administration, stating that "We are concerned that the President hiself has not repudiated this assault on spoken and written opinion." Well, my friends, there you have it.

A little while ago I had written an article about rediscovering Harlan and of my goal on reading all of his books in published order. Well, in moving forward with this goal I recently read The Glass Teat. The Glass Teat is not really about television shows it is really about television as a medium, and how that medium relates to our society at that time. Ellison notes about cover ups of mass killings of Vietnam civilians with Senators at the time saying its okay since they are not Americans. Also Mr. Ellison does a column about a film review of a documentary about the Common Man. While reading his column and their opinions on welfare, race, and war I thought Oh my god, thats the Tea Party. Many people before me have stated that Harlan Ellisons book The Glass Teat was an important book when it was first released.

Thing is I read it because I'm interested in television, and a minority of these collected columns from the Los Angeles Free Press look at TV without 44-year-old activist glasses. (I should note that I'm of the age that when I was a kid most of the shows Ellison writes about aired in daytime reruns, and I hated them all.

He wrote for the original series of both The Outer Limits and Star Trek as well as The Alfred Hitchcock Hour; edited the multiple-award-winning short story anthology series Dangerous Visions; and served as creative consultant/writer to the science fiction TV series The New Twilight Zone and Babylon 5.