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The Glass Teat: Essays of Opinion on the Subject of Television

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  848 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
Librarian's note: This edition's ISBN is in conflict with The Glass Teat.

Pyramid Books had undertaken to publish virtually every book by the controversial Harlan Ellison. Novelist, short story master, winner of more science fiction awards than any other writer, film and T.V. scriptwriter, creature of myth and fantasy, Ellison is a registered gadfly and troublemaker. For th
Mass Market Paperback, 319 pages
Published February 1975 by Pyramid Books (first published 1970)
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Jun 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lost my copy years ago and would love to find another. The Glass Teat was a column by Ellison in The L.A. Free Press in the 70s (I think). The collection is an exceptional example of Ellison's essay writing talents; abrasive, insightful and usually controversial. There is a lot of emphasis on screenwriting for TV and the TV business, both about Ellison experiences and his opinion of other writers, producers and shows. I do get the feeling that Ellison must have been hell to work with on a set. Y ...more
Inanna Arthen
Apr 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book chiefly for its example of contemporary writing style and attitudes in a "free press" publication in the late 1960s. I bought a used copy planning to cherry-pick the essays and ended up reading it straight through. Read in retrospective, it's a fascinating picture of how much some things have changed and how much (depressingly) some others have not. 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 re ...more
Feb 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, history, tv
This is one of those books I've been waiting years to read (it's pretty hard to find). It's early Ellison in all his fiery liberal glory. Completely unabashed and unrepentant (ok, there are a few, rare moments when he does apologize). The modern reader will need to work to get past all the hip, 60's language but you're rewarded with a singular view of the times. Ostensibly about TV, these columns are really about TV's ability to manipulate and be manipulated. He uses TV as a medium to talk about ...more
Angelia Sparrow
Jan 04, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful book on the banality of television. VERY dated, but an excellent time capsule.
Paul Dickey
Sep 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
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.
I was looking forward to this book, since it has a great reputation, being well reviewed and received. Also the book contains columns of articles Mr. Ellison wrote in the late sixties for the Los Angeles Free Press and I am a huge fan of Mr. Ellison’s essays.
Now I had heard this book was about
Seth Madej
Jan 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book if you're interested in the socio-political climate of the late Sixties through the viewpoint of an intelligent, critical thinking progressive. 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. (Though history repeats, and I was struck how some of Ellison's smartest, angriest rants--with just a few proper nouns substituted--could've been peeled st ...more
Craig Werner
Aug 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sixties, film
Enough to give serious flashbacks to anyone who lived through the tail end of the Sixties in a pissed-off mood, which, as Ellison makes clear, was the only sane response. The first of two volumes collecting the TV column, sci fi/tv writer Ellison wrote for the LA Free Press from late 1968 through 1970, The Glass Teat is fueled by equal parts cynical/realistic humor and righteous anger as the world turned over thoughts/hopes/dreams of real social transformation to...pause for sad music--Spiro Agn ...more
This was one of my favorite books as a teenager. I read the entire thing (and its sequel) out loud to myself, some columns more than once. Ellison seemed like the most vital writer I'd ever encountered. 40 years later, it all seems kind of embarrassing, Ellison seems particularly uncool despite his self-regard, his political statements never get below the surface. His accounts of things that happened to him seem untrustworthy--he tends to come off as the One Righteous Individual in most situatio ...more
Jim Cherry
Apr 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“The Glass Teat” started life as a column by Harlan Ellison in the L.A. Free Press, about television and the media. It’s a peek behind the screen that shows not a haggard showman pulling levers, but the slick manipulations of corporations pushing buttons, our buttons.

“The Glass Teat” looks behind the banality of the stories the shows presented and reveals the subliminal messages embedded in the television shows we watch daily and take for granted. Television is far from being the “vast wasteland
Sep 05, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: libraryread
I'd been wanting to read The Glass Teat for some time now & finally got around to making an ILL request for it.

The book is a collection of columns written for The Los Angeles Free Press from October 1968 - January 1970. I'm mildly disappointed. I was hoping Ellison would discuss television programming from the time more specifically; instead he focused more on politics & how The Establishment uses the boob tube to disinform the public. As opinionated as ever, Ellison rails against the A
Pam Baddeley
A re-read of a collection of polemical TV columns written for an independent newspaper, The Los Angeles Free Press, beginning in 1968. This book contains the first 52 columns up until January 1970. Ellison uses the medium of TV criticism to discuss the ills of contemporary society in the Vietnam War/pre Nixon impeachment era.

For those not familiar with his style, be warned that there is a lot of swearing and words that would these days be completely unacceptable, including derogatory ones about
Jan 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 01, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Harlan Ellison is a writer whose style I have always admired. His emotion bleeds from the pages.

This book is a collection of columns he wrote for The Los Angeles Free Press forty years ago. Technically they're all about television, but they are more an historical document that gives the reader an insight into the zeitgeist of America during the Vietnam era.

What's most surprising is how contemporary they seem. You could easily replace Nixon/Agnew with Bush/Cheney.

Also, Ellison's observations obse
Joseph Clark
Jun 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First read this book in college, have kept my copy ever since. If you think about how invasive and pervasive television is in our lives, this book will hit home. For all of the people who get upset about television characters getting killed off in their favorite shows, or voted off the island, or off the stage, or whatever, this book will give you an insight into just how much television you watch and how much time you waste watching it. Even Ellison admits to wasting 4 hours at a stretch in fro ...more
David Allen
Feb 15, 2015 rated it liked it
Comprising 52 of Ellison's ostensible TV columns for the underground Los Angeles Free Press from 1968-70, most of these pieces are about anything but TV. Instead, they are a window into a moment when youth culture was struggling to gain a foothold in the media and the Establishment in the form of Nixon, Agnew and Reagan was overwhelming all dissent. Urgent and impatient. Also, the fall 1969 network lineup lacked promise.
Oct 14, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Glass Teat is an interesting collection of TV review columns by noted cranky old man Harlan Ellison (who used to be with it, man, he used to be hip. He used to want to rap with the kids instead of... I am out of hippie jargon).

I didn't track it as I went through, but I wonder what percentage of the columns were "Saw this on TV and I don't like it/like it/Where'd the Smothers Brothers go!?" and what are "Man, Nixon sucks and this is why". As a historical document it's pretty neat.
William Cameron
Jul 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Possibly the first Harlan Ellison stuff I ever read. Picked the two Glass Teat collections of Ellison reviews of TV and Movies at a used bookstore on a trip to Canada with the fam when I was. maybe 13 (or even younger?). I love Ellison when hes in Reviewer
mode. This of course lead to his Fiction... All those shows covered are Wicked dated now, but If you can find a copy in some used bookstore somewhere for cheep money, def worth a read!
Joe Ohlenbusch
Apr 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ellison has a great way about him. Whether you like what he says or not, he sure is a damn good writer. This book is a little dated in some of the articles when he mentions specific shows but what got to me was how most of it is still happening today with mass media. We have learned that times have changed but it is scary how much they actually stayed the same. if you like Ellison, you'll like the Glass Teat.
L Greyfort
Jul 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
Collection of Ellison's television reviews - fascinating entree to the mindset of the 1960's. His discussion of the TV shows becomes a jumping-off point for his passion in regard to the issues of the day -- this volume (and its sequel, "The Other Glass Teat") is virtually a time travel experience. As always with Ellison, you are transported by his fervor.
Sep 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just as "Dangerous Visions" changed the entire field of speculative fiction, "The Glass Teat" gave Ellison a opportunity to change the television genre. It may have taken a few years, but with the advent of cable & premium station and their lack of compulsive censorship, Ellison's book of TV criticism (now mostly outdated) is fascinating reading.
Jan 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Turns out Ellison was right and TV *did* turn peoples' brains into tapioca pudding.

Excellent writing. He gets top marks for high proof irascibility, only losing some credit because he persistently buys into partisan politics, instead of realizing that the left and right have a common enemy in government.

But then, few do.
Apr 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you were alive during the 70's and watching television, or you've watched repeats of shows from the 70's, this book will also add social commentary and context to that era.

Ellison brings both an insiders view to the industry as well as an acerbic insight (his, it is in no way objective) to his television commentary, and I suspect you'll get angry reading it, laugh a bit, and think.
Oct 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very pointed and thought provoking read on television in the late 60's early 70's. Much of it is still relevant today, except for the way the obvious big wigs tried to strangle good TV back then. There is still that threat today, but it's much more intricate and subversive. I would love for Ellison to take up the reins of the glass teat column again in this day and age!
Feb 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A collection of reviews and criticism's written in the mid 70's. The shows are long dead but the criticisms of the industry hold up well. If more critics shared his trenchant views, and put them down; TV would have a chance of not being a vast wasteland. Read this and "The Other Glass Teat" if you want to understand what is happening in TV, or just to have fun.
Ray Charbonneau
Admittedly, Harlan is right about the corporate media, but the books is still a product of its time, and after 40 years, it hasn't aged well. If you're not old enough to remember the shows Harlan writes about (when he's not busy writing about himself), you'll be lost. Works better as an example of aging writer striving to appear hip, when hip was cool (or whatever the right term is these days).
Anna Syromenos
It's not Harlans fault that the writing is a bit dated, he was writing about TV at the time. Still, his insight is true and his prose is clean as always.

Also, worth reading just for repeated use of the word "teat".
Jul 11, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Aged worse than his other books, which are often good. Lots of milk and honey for the "Complain about the world while sunbathing by your parent's swimming pool" crowd. Worth reading if you think the Smothers Brothers were important. Be honest, the Carol Burnett Show holds up better.
Aug 15, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: on-shelf
Eloquent vitriolic Harlan Ellison transcribes his newspaper columns... reads like um, that tall radio talk-show person...Oh yes, Howard Stern. But with more complex concepts, sentences, and conscience. And suggestions for how to fix the dumbing of America mixed into the insults.
Jul 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a collection of articles Ellison wrote for a newspaper in the last 60's/early 70's about television. Despite it's age, the points he makes about TV's effects on our society & about how terrible most of it's programming is are still relevant today.
Jeremy Hornik
Harlan Ellison's TV criticism, with some stories about working in TV and other miscellany worked in. Raw and angry, and even a hundred years ago when I was reading it, the references were ancient. Still, it struck a nerve with me.
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Harlan Jay Ellison is a prolific American writer of short stories, novellas, teleplays, essays, and criticism.

His literary and television work has received many awards. 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/write
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“Ellison’s Theorem: the further right your position, the less telling your satire. A corollary of which is that you can’t lampoon anywhere near where you stand, because you’d annihilate your own troops.” 2 likes
“Ours is a society so immersed in the sea of video reactions that there are little old ladies out there who know Hoss Cartwright is more real than their next door neighbors. Everyone of value to them is an image. A totem. A phosphor-dot wraith whose hurts and triumphs are created from the magic of a scenarist’s need to make the next payment on his Porsche. (I recommend a book titled Bug Jack Barron by Norman Spinrad, for a more complete, and horrifying analysis of this phenomenon. It’s an Avon paperback, so it shouldn’t trouble you too much to pick it up.) But because of this acceptance of the strangers who appear on the home screen, ours has become a society where shadow and reality intermix to the final elimination of any degree of rational selectivity on the part of those whose lives are manipulated: by the carnivores who flummox them, and the idols they choose to worship. I don’t know that there’s any answer to this. If we luck out and we get a John Kennedy or a Leonard Nimoy (who, strangely enough, tie in to one another by the common denominator of being humane), then we can’t call it a bad thing. But if we wind up with a public image that governs us as Ronald Reagan and Joe Pyne govern us, then we are in such deep trouble the mind turns to aluminum thinking of it.” 1 likes
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