Friday, September 05, 2014

"Mad Men," the truth about the Ukraine, and more


  • On the Ukraine and USG soft power. This year's Ukrainian revolution for dummies: Democracy produced the wrong result in Ukraine, so the Cathedral staged a coup. Mr. Yanukovych, the duly elected authority, got a better deal from the Russians than the EU. Oh, crumbs. The instrument of the coup was the Maidan movement, which is supposedly an indigenous Ukrainian movement, but its web page is in English in the distinctive dialect of the American ruling elite. Like the way Patriarch Sviatoslav talks, and yes, I'm a Catholic. Big picture, people: we want to bring Russia back into the family, not be tools of the Cathedral in the Ukraine's name. Intercepted phone conversation revealed that State Department regarded the nominal leaders of the Ukraine as menial functionaries which they got to appoint and dismiss. Russia counterproposed regional autonomy, so that there would be some Ukrainian independence from the Cathedral. The USG was not having any. So, war. This looks like straight USG imperialism.
  • The latest pressroom links about "Mad Men," mostly interviews with the actors, who of course can't give anything away about the storyline. Too bad Jon Hamm's a PC wuss in real life, but then again I'm not really an auto mechanic, I just sometimes play one on the Web. Great at fixing plumbing or HVAC but can't sell yourself verbally? That's where I come in. Much more fun and I'm treated better than working in newspapers.
  • "Mad Men": The dispossessed elite on TV. For “craftsmen of the word” like us, the story of a creative director in an ascendent advertising agency is full of precious lessons. It's what I do in real life: look for hooks and create characters. It's like acting: for example, I write as an earnest 30-year-old evangelical minister from the heartland one day, an old building contractor in the Northeast the next, an immigrant Filipina beautician out West the day after that, and an aspiring hip-hop impresario in some big city the day after that. (Those are composites.) I give each a voice, making identities, brands, online. I create a second character, the person they're hoping to "sell" to. If it pulls people through your door and makes you money, I'll be anything you want me to be, all with my words.
    Besides, the whole show seems to revolve around a hidden theme that is familiar to Radix readers: the dispossession of the Old Anglo Elite by a new class using its verbal skills to gain power. For a cultural contrarian, there is always a risk of overreading the producers' intent. However, while I believe they wanted to depict this Old Elite negatively, and express some relief about its downfall, I can't help thinking that the initial expectation wasn't fully met... To show how hard it was for the Rainbow Coalition to overthrow this Old Anglo Elite, the producers had to depict it as a formidable enemy: a caste of good-looking, refined, well-mannered, educated aristocrats. By thus doing, they made this elite appealing, and many viewers could conclude that they would rather be ruled by such a gang than by the current one.
    It turned out to be transgressive porn for women of a certain class: pretend to cheer for Peggy but fantasize about Don. By the way, sales of Canadian Club and Lucky Strike have gone up.

    Good point: Draper's problem, how someone like me interprets the opening credits animation, is he "embraces the cultural revolution of the '60s." As I say, beware lefty nostalgia. Was cool mid-century modern self-destructive by nature, à la Vatican II? The show's just moved into a period I remember. The character Kevin Harris and I are the same age.

    An implicit message on the show:
    When a man is handsome, well-educated, and successful, there must be something deeply wrong about him. This should explain why such types have almost entirely been driven out of Western elites in favor of ugly, incompetent, and sociopathic ones.
    In 1960 we had the best of the church AND of the Protestant America that this article is celebrating, then the council and the Sixties ruined everything.
    Bert Cooper is why conservatives can't win. Though he disagrees with the triumph of the Moral Left in the '60s, he never dares express it.
    Why do I "live in the past"? Like the old joke says of dogs, because I can.

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