Friday, July 27, 2007

Mad Men Revived

The AMC original show, Mad Men, returns us to the late 1950's, prior to Nixon's first presidential run. If you don't watch it, Dear Reader, may I humbly (moi?) suggest you do so. It will give you a theatrical look at certain attitudes driven by the testosterone of the day; those attitudes, well, vestiges of them, could very well be the ones with which we find ourselves at odds today.

Women in the office are treated with indifference, if not disrespect. The protagonist cheats on his wife, in a retrospective moment he muses to his mistress, "I don't know if you have everything...or nothing." Not even a twinge if the question also applies to himself.

Although Alpha Male is a relatively new word of the day, the series two openers reek of it.

As a late teenager during those years, I find the memories stirred by this series to be disturbing. I couldn't understand the concept of male superiority, and I didn't care if I didn't have it. Others cared very much that they have it.

The blinkered view of the world which the WASP evinces in this series is quite similar to the view which we see the Bush administration displaying. They are correct; they have unflinching faith in themselves; anyone who disagrees will be shunted aside or destroyed. "Maybe I should stop paying you," says the 1959 protagonist to an underling who dares to engage in a second round of debate.

The equivalent exchange of 2003: "We need 500,000 troops." "You're irrelevant."

And everyone smokes. The smoking pregnant, drinking women in Hairspray were funny. The WASP wife on the shrink's couch smoking isn't funny. It's tragic.

We survived the Eisenhower years. Surely we'll survive the Bush II years. In 40 years will there be a television show which exposes the foolishness of 2007?

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