After I went to bed last night, Tim wrote:
For the generally negative view big-screen productions have always taken of the small screen, see All That Heaven Allows, Putney Swope, The Thrill of It All, and just about every other movie that has ever featured television in the plot.
This is one of those points that ought to be really obvious but apparently isn't. Ever watch A Personal Journey With Martin Scorsese Through American Movies? He makes a big deal of what a "subversive" Douglas Sirk was because he slipped an anti-TV message into All That Heaven Allows's soap-opera plot. But it was no more subversive—and no more rare—for a movie to mock television in the 1950s than it is for TV to mock the Internet today.
Whenever I see All That Heaven Allows or A Face in the Crowd or Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? held up as an example of prescient social commentary, I imagine some culture-studies professors in 2036 looking back on some panicky old cop shows from the turn of the century. "Look how subversive CSI and Law & Order were!" they'll exclaim. "They sure were brave to paint video games and the Web as such a menace!"