Friday, July 20, 2007

What Do Women Want?



AMC just launched Mad Men, a promising new series that chronologically begins in 1960. Immediately, the viewer is treated to a different time and work culture, one about to undergo a revolution. Collisions of class and gender are abundant. Set in New York City, the plot swirls around members of the Sterling Cooper Advertising Agency. It essentially substantiates Herbert Marcus' social critique laid out in One-Dimensional Man that I mentioned in yesterday's post: mass communications and marketing vs. the individual.

It's too bad that HBO didn't produce this -- the cast would have been bigger and deeper. Nonetheless, it's good. John Hamm plays ad man Don Draper, a complicated dude and ladies' man not unlike Tony Soprano, though in a more "legitimate" business way. He is sexist, elitist, clever, and conflicted -- and forced to deal with change. His main foil in the first episode is a powerful "new" kind of woman -- Rachel Menkin (played well by Maggie Siff), who even in 1960 could not seriously be mocked or damned as a "spinster" (Draper tries, but shifts gears after initial failure).

Cigarette smoke swirls in all the work spaces, secretaries are ogled and pinched and flirted with, and the booze flows freely. Not only cigarette ad campaigns, but the Nixon vs. JFK election is coming up. Looks like Sterling Cooper will have the challenge of selling Dick Nixon to the electorate.

The gender issues alone are priceless. From the coming attractions, someone asks Roger Serling (John Slattery), Draper's boss, "What do women want?" He replies: "Who cares?" It's wicked good fun, and forces the viewer to examine our lives today from the perspective of 1960. Last night, I couldn't help but smile.

12 comments:

lulu said...

If I let a man pinch my butt and call me "girl" does that mean I no longer have to deal with the mechanic? it might be a worthwhile trade-off.

Bubs said...

Quite a time. I think it was the original "Catalog of Cool" that described either 60 or 62 as "the last cool year." Cool, that is, if you were on top of the power structure. Not so cool for anyone else.

t said...

Saw previews of this and thought it would rock. Thanks for the reminder to catch it sometime.

JR's Thumbprints said...

I spent my first eight years in the sixties. Too damned young to reap its benefits, yet young enough to avoid its dangers.

Jamie said...

I heard a preview of this show on NPR. It sounds interesting. I may have to set up the DVR and check it out. (in between cycling, that is... :-) )

Johnny Yen said...

Bubs, I remember that book! The year was 1962,

I read the review in the New York Times-- looked interesting.

I think like many things, we look backward to that era with rose-colored glasses.

the walking man said...

I don't know what women want but i know what men need...abdicate all of their fucking power of self centered self righteousness and let women rule the world...as a womanist I honestly believe it is their turn to do the butt pinching ass slapping no retaliation time.

Peace

TWM

the walking man said...

lulu...if you don't like your mechanic tell him to go back to school and find one that won't try to advantage of you because you have tits and no knowledge of cars which can be rectified by a book from the library about car terminology and parts and repairs.

Peace

TWM
Certified Master Mechanic

Danny Tagalog said...

Sounds good. Agree with thw Walking Man

"I don't know what women want but i know what men need...abdicate all of their fucking power of self centered self righteousness and let women rule the world..."

Erik Donald France said...

"Let" women rule the world?

Let's start with the USA: one candidate out of what, eighteen, is a woman.

Frderick Douglass, feminist:

"If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." ~~ 1857

lulu said...

TWM--
I adore my mechanic. He's honest, reliable, and a really good guy. In fact, I recommend him to all of my single female friends.

I'm just tired of being responsible for car care.

Johnny Yen said...

That is one of my favorite quotes ever, Erik. Reading Frederick Douglass' autobiography 16 years ago was a life-changing event.