surprising comfort. Low-ranking policenare heroes, but charge are jerks.nAnyone who watches a considerablenamount of television can confirm thesengeneralizations. In his interviews, Steinnfound that the great majority of thosenresponsible for putting these views onnthe air genuinely believed them. Thoughnquite rich themselves, they did not perceiventhemselves as wealthy, and werendecidedly hostile to those who were.nThey were more upset by organizedncrime, and even “white-collar” crime,nthan by violence in the streets againstnpeople. The latter was blamed on “society,”nor “poverty.” Though not hostilento private enterprise, they disliked businessmen,nand saw the military as a costlyndefense against nonexistent threats,nsmall towns as cultural backwaters ornstrongholds of the Ku Klux IClan.nStein solemnly notes the discrepanciesnbetween television and reality, butnhe takes a somewhat indulgent view ofnthe television makers. Their oddities,nhe suggests, are partly due to the factnthat they form a rather homogenous,nsmall, nouveau-riche clique and partlynto their “apotheosizing of the Los Angelesnexperience.” They are, he argues,na parvenu group that is grasping fornpower and is hostile to other leadershipngroups in society as rivals. This explainsnpart of the odd ideology they believe andnproject. Some special factors enter intonthis. A majority of writers and producersnare Jews, and most of the rest arenIrish and Italian. Most came to Los Angelesnfrom New York. Stein found ansurprising amount of ethnic hostilitynto WASPS and other groups they anachronisticallynsee as higher on the socialnscale—though there may well be somenself-contempt at the bottom of this,nsince Stein reports seeing auditioningnperformers rejected for appearing “excessively”nJewish or Italian. They arenalso susceptible to a variety of wild conspiracyntheories (Stein says this is commonnin Hollywood generally): that thenMafia runs big business, that the worldnis run by big corporations and ex-Nazis,nor by eight families, and the like.nHowever, there seem to be other ideologicalnfactors at work. Stein playsndown the influence of political loyalties,nbut it is noticeable that the point of viewnprojected by prime-time television doesnfit in better with liberalism than withnany rival set of ideas. Some of the peoplenhe interviewed displayed classic liberalnguilt complexes. In discussing the causenof crime, one attributed it to “Frustrationnand what we in America have done tonracial and economic minorities,” anothernirrelevantly brought up DeannRusk’s and Richard Nixon’s “crimes” innIndochina. To be sure, the televisionnmakers have their idiosyncrasies, suchnas their obsession with conspiracies, butneven these usually feature “rightist”nvillains. A look at the dramatic specialsnand made-for-television movies reinforcesnthe impression of a dominantnliberal bias. Collision Course, the allegedndepiction of the Truman-MacArthurnconflict, is a good example.nSomehow there are always televisionntreatments (not necessarily bad ones) ofnsubjects that are bees in the liberal bonnet.nHowever, anyone who waits fornthe works of Solzhenitsyn to appear onnTV had better not hold his breath.n•”… far too narrow-mirnled.”nAn other respects, too, television reflectsnoutside influences, principally ofnother branches of the entertainmentnindustry. Though Stein perhaps rightlynargues that the movies now have only anfairly small audience and little directninfluence on the populace, televisionnshows are frequently inspired by orncopied from successful films—in thenlast year or so 5/ar Wars, Animal Housenand The Paper Chase have all been usednas sources for television. As Stein himselfnnotes, the tired and tiresome “smallntown as evil conspiracy” plot, very commonnon TV, is taken from a fine 1955nmovie. Bad Day at Black Rock. Recentlynthe television producers have developednnnan unfortunate fascination with comicnbook characters; perhaps they find themnintellectually congenial. It is apparent,ntherefore, that while TV may divergenfrom reality, that is not because thenpeople who make it are unable to governntheir imaginations—they don’t havenany. They may make exotic adventurenshows, fantasies, or science fiction, butnthey always turn out to be televisedncomic books, or Harold Robbins in annunusual setting. (Even the highly touted.nStar Trek is only a partial exception tonthis generalization.) You may be seeingna drama set on Mars, but rest assured;nit’s really another story of sex and bitternpersonal conflict in Scarsdale inndisguise.nUnfortunately, though Stein notesnthe perversity and unreality of much ofntelevision’s picture of the world, he failsnto come to grips with the value systemnunderlying it. He notes in passing that,nat the time he wrote his book, therenwere no television shows depicting ancomplete middle-class family set in thenpresent day. But he does not explorenthe attitudes towards life and the familynthat produce such a situation. He limitsnhimself to noting the discrepancy betweenntelevision and what he likes ton— Columbus Dispatchncall the “folk wisdom” of America. ButnStein—like the rest of us—is partly anproduct of an era dominated by the entertainmentnindustry. When he speaksnof folk wisdom, he sometimes seems tonmean the values projected by the Hollywoodnmovies of thirty to forty years ago.nPossibly these values are less crazy thannthose of the television makers, but thatnhardly justifies regarding them as productsnof an immemorial “folk wisdom.”nThis sort of argument simply distractsnfrom the basic problem of why the televisionnmakers feel impelled to invertntraditional values and are obsessed withntaboo-breaking, and exhibit poorer andnpoorer taste and standards. But this isnnot a peculiarity of television alone; thenil5nChronicles of Culturen