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View from Sunset Boulevard: America as Brought to You by the People Who Make Television Paperback – December 1, 1980


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 140 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday (December 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385157398
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385157391
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,309,708 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ben Stein (Los Angeles, CA) is a respected economist who is known to many as a movie and television personality, but has worked more in personal and corporate finance than anywhere else. He has written about finance for Barron's, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and Fortune; was one of the chief busters of the junk-bond frauds of the 1980s; has been a longtime critic of corporate executives' self-dealing; and has cowritten eight finance books. Stein travels the country speaking about finance in both serious and humorous ways, and is a regular contributor to CBS's Sunday Morning, CNN, and Fox News. He was the 2009 winner of the Malcolm Forbes Award for Excellence in Financial Journalism.

Customer Reviews

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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Thomas M. Sipos VINE VOICE on May 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I read this book over 20 years ago. It taught me "how to watch TV." Critics have compared it to the film book classic, FROM CALIGARI TO HITLER (an analysis of how Weimer Germany films reflected German sociological undercurrents).
Ben Stein watched popular TV shows from the 1970s, both sitcoms and dramas, then analyed how various social groups are protrayed: businessmen (as criminals), the military (psychotic sadists), minorities (good-hearted), criminals (driven to do bad by racism and poverty) clergy (nice but ineffectual), govt social workers (noble, idealistic, hard-working).
Watch any episode of a 1970s show (Beretta, Kojak, Good Times, Rockford Files, The Jeffersons), and you'll be amazed at how consistent the formula is.
Ben Stein also interviewed many TV writers and producers, and demonstrated how their own backgrounds and lifestyles gave rise to the liberal biases reflected in their shows. (They really believed the world was as they portrayed it). Maybe half were Jews, the rest mainly Catholic, who were raised in working class environments and felt the sting of prejudice from "country club WASP Republicans."
Today, TV is not so liberal as in the 1970s. TV writer Rob Long wrote in National Review a few years back that 1990s sitcoms are apolitical, because a newer generation of TV writers has replaced the old. Most modern TV writers come from wealthy Hollywood families, or from the Ivy League (as was Long), so they no longer have the same liberal biases.
Even so, Ben Stein's book is STILL AS RELEVENT today as ever. Not because of what he discoverd about 1970s TV, but because of his method of analysis. Stein's book TAUGHT ME HOW TO WATCH TV.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Richardson on August 31, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Years before his role as a high school economics teacher in "Ferris Buller's Day Off", Ben Stein penned this short book about the view of America from the perspective of a small group of highly paid Hollywood writers and producers.

Whilst in law school, Ben Stein had read "From Caligari to Hitler" by Siegfried Kracauer. In this book, Herr Kracauer attempted to advance his theory that the films of the Weimar Republic reflected the attitudes and thinking of the German nation. The text was obviously a big influence on Mr. Stein. After practicing law, working as a Nixon speech writer and teaching college, he moved to Los Angeles and began working in and around television. Operating under the theory that television is the dominant mode of communication in America, he attempted to learn as much about the thoughts of the people who create it as possible. The author spent a lot of time working at Norman Lear's production company. He also interviewed many writers and producers. The result is an easily read, anecdotal study of the attitudes and beliefs of the men and women who were creating the television of the 1970s.

After giving us an introduction to what is involved in the making of a TV show, as well as the roles of writers and producers, we are given 12 chapters on various groups and their television archetypes. For example, there are chapters entitled "Businessmen on Television", "Police on Television", "Small Towns on Television", etc. The pattern of each chapter is to introduce the way in which the group currently under discussion is portrayed, cite supporting examples from television shows and then provide interviews with producers and writers that are illustrative of the attitudes that are reflected in the television portrayals.
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By z_treasures on March 19, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mr. Stein's book is somewhat simply written, but he makes some great points about how TV producers/directors/writers think of themselves as working class, even though they may command (to most people) vast sums. In 2014, we might call these Hollywood types "the one percent". Excellent analysis. Mr. Stein attempts to play fair; his book is in no way one-sided (as are many political nonfiction books these days) despite the fact that he is a conservative Republican. He has had an interesting career, writing in R. Emmett Tyrrell's The American Spectator, appearing in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, writing nonfiction, hosting a game show on cable ("Win Ben Stein's Money"). I've been meaning to read this book for decades, and I am glad I did.
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