Monday, April 08, 2013

The show goes on

The obvious reason I love ‘Mad Men’ is it’s about the ’60s (Part Two of the ’50s) more than the Sixties, which are creeping in like smog, just like what really happened. The interaction between the two cultures is realistic, too. For most people, certainly in Don’s circle, the ’60s weren’t the Sixties; that didn’t set in until the early ’70s. (As someone observed, compare a yearbook from 1968 to one from 1973.) Thanks, Matthew Weiner, for not romanticizing the hippies in this episode, as you didn’t the beatniks. (Slumming rich kids, part of the left’s class war against prole whites, which continues.) It was Skid Row with rude kids. (Love the classic cars on the slum street.)

Marijuana of course wasn’t new (look when Reefer Madness was made). ’40s jazzmen smoked it. Robert Mitchum was wrongly busted for possession. (Regular readers know: libertarian here. Don’t use it, but legalize it.) You can also blame those big-band sidemen for the misuse of ‘like’, as in ‘I was like, what?’ instead of ‘I thought/said, “What?”’ I think I was born into the last generation that didn’t/doesn’t normally do that.

Weiner doesn’t patronize his smart SWPL audience. No dumb expository dialogue telling you what year it is, because people don’t talk like that. Fun to figure out; I researched hints as I watched and got it right. Funny, I thought they ended last season about six months ahead of where they are. Slowly changing to the part of the period whose tail end I remember (I remember cigarette commercials on TV and ’60s cars as normal cars).

I don’t have a blonde fetish. Betty’s still beautiful. I was afraid from the advance reviews, which said she ‘becomes an activist’ and makes a big change to her look, she’d change from ’50s-’60s to Sixties (’70s ugly).

On this well-written, well-acted, well-researched soap opera for people who think they don’t watch soap operas, I’m not surprised Don’s still an anti-hero. As despicable as his latest escapade is (breaking an old-school manly code as well as the commandments), it’s in character (most people on the show are amoral) and makes Roissyan sense. (His friend the herb didn’t have a chance. Yes, she’s pretty.) Keeps people watching (though interestingly, like ‘Star Trek’ it seems to influence the culture more than it’s watched). I forget who first wrote this but it’s not a satire of the golden era; it’s partly women’s fantasy.


  1. Re: controlled substances (including marijuana)

    Don't legalize them/it. Decriminalize them/it. Give parents a chance to keep their children from drugs . . . even if it is a slim chance!

  2. "[T]he beatniks... (Slumming rich kids, part of the left’s class war against prole whites, which continues.) It was Skid Row with rude kids."

    A good friend's mother reminisced to me once about the time, at age 16, that she was taken by her father to see a Bob Dylan concert, when Dylan was still fairly new on the scene. She dressed in her nicest tweed skirt and jacket for the concert, but her nice evening was spoiled somewhat by the malodorous and severely intoxicated beatnik in the next seat, who gave the appearance the entire time of someone just about to vomit all over her (fortunately, he held it down). It confirmed my suspicion that most beatniks were not exactly cute like Maynard G. Krebs.

    Of course, not all of the beatniks were comfortable with the hippies, either- Jack Kerouac had decidedly mixed feelings about the young hippies, some of whom he liked, but many of whom he referred to derisively as "Commie Hoodlums". Kerouac was a drunk and practitioner of all manner of debauchery, but he was from working-class Catholic background, and didn't have much patience with Communist sympathizers of any kind (even strongly supporting Senator McCarthy in the '50s). I never read "On the Road", but a cousin of mine who did said that, if you read between the lines with a cynical enough eye, the main message seems to be that the protagonist's beatnik friends are a bunch of self-centered, coldhearted jackasses.

    "Marijuana of course wasn’t new (look when Reefer Madness was made). ’40s jazzmen smoked it."

    "That '70s Show" (a kind of spiritual successor to "Happy Days", in a strange way) had Richard Chong in a minor recurring role basically doing his old stoner/hippie shtick, which never made much sense in a middle-aged man of that period (who would have grown up well before the "Summer of Love" and all that nonsense). Evidently, one of the writers noticed the chronological anomaly, and came up with a clever explanation- after returning from WWII, Chong's character hitched a ride home with a bunch of black jazz musicians, and...

    1. Tommy Chong... not sure where the heck I got Richard from. I think I need a nap.

    2. Oh, that was the other one's name... obviously, I was never a fan.


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