The British documentary 56 Up, the latest installment of the renowned 50-year-long Up Series, had its stateside theatrical premiere earlier this year. The Up Series has followed the lives of the same 14 Britons since 1964, revisiting them every seven years. This "remarkable" and "ever-evolving masterpiece" has a fervid and growing international following, and the past several installments that PBS aired after U.S. theatrical runs garnered viewerships in the millions. Every new Up installment is not just a window into the subjects' worlds, but a powerful, ruminative event, forcing us to reflect on the passage of time in our own lives in a way that no single film [...]
Up until this season, the stylish women of "Mad Men" rarely deviated from their set looks. Joan wore her tight, bold dresses; Betty Draper (pre weight-gain) honed her Grace Kelly image; and Jane Siegel was all about flash. (Even Peggy, the most awkward dresser of the group, stuck to mostly menswear-influenced outfits around the office.) It took the new Mrs. Draper and her fabulous wardrobe to give the show what it needed to chronicle the changing fashions of the 60s: a clotheshorse.
And a trendy one at that. We never know what Megan Draper will decide to wear next—now a rhinestone mod mini-dress, next a floor-length gown and [...]
According to the always-reliable Internet, many people were unhappy with this season's finale of Mad Men. Most of the criticism seems to be either one of two things: first, that it was just too nonsensical, too fast: the sudden engagement, Don's off-putting happiness, or just the general tenor of LA and its aftermath. The second complaint seems to be that "nothing really happened." (There's a third complaint, from "Lost" creator Damon Lindelof, that it wasn't made clear that the whole cast has been dead through the entire show, but he was pretty much the only one to raise that objection.) Well let's get the first, and seemingly the [...]
Who knew that the advertising industry housed so many men of integrity? The ad above is by Bill Bernbach, a founder of Doyle Dane Bernbach and the Great Father of modern advertising. It was Bernbach who popularized the technique of counter-intuitive advertising. "Now I'm not talking about tricking people," Bernbach said. "If you get attention by a trick, how can people like you for it? For instance, you are not right if, in your ad, you stand a man on his head just to get attention. But you are right to have him on his head to show how your product keeps things from falling out of his [...]
I don't need to tell you what going through puberty feels like, with all its urgency, eroticism, and ugliness. You went through it yourself. If you didn't go through it as a female, I can tell you that the desire to appear adult is consuming. Whenever there's role-playing to be done, the pubescent female will assume the role of Teacher in School, Doctor in the Hospital, Mother in House-and beware the girl who played student, patient, baby. For young girls, the thinking goes, if they exude an air of maturity, they'd be chosen to enter the world of adults. A young girl's desire to play cook is not only [...]
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After two or three decades of exposure, watching TV can feel a little bit like going home to visit your family. At first it's comforting to see so many old familiar faces. But… why don't these people ever change? Why are they so rigid and repetitive and tedious? And what makes them think they're remotely interesting, or even marginally entertaining?
On the internets, we refer to these humans as either "stereotypes" [...]
It's so exceedingly brave of Jon Hamm to play younger, isn't it? It's a testament to his range as an actor that the 41-year-old is really gnawing away at the role of 40-and-a-half-year-old Don Draper. Magic like that just keeps me glued to this mild workplace drama. Aaaaanyway, the excellent website Mad Men Unbuttoned continues its agglomeration of important related cultural detritus this season! Play along at home! Or you could go read recaps at literally every publication in the world, if you had nothing else to do with your life today.
Don's right-about one thing, at least: teenagers are sentimental. The cynicism with which adults rebel comes from the nihilism of doing what you know is bad for you because you're old enough to understand that these things usually go unpunished. The kind of joyless self-indulgence that adults traffic in doesn't exist for teenagers. For the young, it's unfathomable that act of self-indulgence can bring anything but joy. In the twilight of childhood, you're not sure what's like to be an adult but you know what it feels like to not be a child. Every brush with adult behavior-anything from smoking, to sneaking out, to driving, to fucking-is wrapped in [...]
Don! Since the beginning of "Mad Men," all have been agog about Don Draper's magnetism. What is it? Why do women wilt and men follow? How does his staff endure his endless floggings? (Ahem.) And how does he turn the most banal products into objects of desire? Granddaddy sociologist Max Weber provides an answer: Don is a charismatic. Charismatics draw their power from the mystic and divine. For the early Christians, a charismatic was a human vessel through which a god revealed its power. Charismatics are theatrical, eloquent, and fervent. We first saw a glimpse of Don's supernatural power when he coolly walked around a conference table of skeptical [...]
Watching Don Draper emerge from chlorinated baptismal waters, gasping for breath in a cavernous public gym, brings to mind John Cheever's short story "The Swimmer," from 1964. "I've been a little out of sorts, lately," Don confesses to his date. Likewise Cheever's main character, Ned Merrill. Beginning at the public pool, Ned, in an attempt discover Bullet Park's hidden topography, decides to swim through the private and public schools of his Westchester neighborhood, creating an aquatic trail back to his home. Ned starts the expedition with great hope, as he enjoys the sensation of swimming: "He had been swimming and now he was breathing deeply, stertorously as if [...]
â€¢ One myth that arose from some proponents of the women's liberation movement is that a terminated pregnancy doesn't change a person. The idea that it does was reasonably considered fodder for the other side-that this view enhanced the notion that not caring for a child conceived in your body is an abandonment of biological and moral responsibilities. In reaction then, a PR move has often been adopted into an unconvincing pro-choice ideology: a woman can go through a pregnancy without some lasting change to her psyche and system. The enlightened woman, the idea was, could go through terminating a pregnancy or putting a child up for adoption without [...]
I went to bed angry and I woke up angry over 1. what a horrible, nasty, vicious monster Betty Draper is and 2. that little contrivance in last night's "Mad Men" episode. Roger Sterling dropped a name, which was then echoed by Pete Campbell, all seemingly intended as a psychological experiment to see what would happen on the Internet as a result. I thought it was an irritating meta-joke about advertising and I, for one, am not having it. You can Google the name of the doctor referenced if you're curious. SPOILER: IT'S NOT ANYONE. I don't want to play their little viral reindeer games! (Someone please make me [...]
1. Happy mobs are all alike; every unhappy mob is unhappy in its own way. This has been lost on a lot of journalists in the last few weeks as many Québécois1 have poured into the streets, banging casserole dishes and getting beaten up and arrested for the perceived threat they pose. Every American commentary I find on it is eager to relate this to Occupy Wall Street, conveniently excusing itself from learning about the culture of the place. Well, agitprop’s always been a lot quicker to write than history, I suppose, and maybe that is most of all true about a place like Québec, where people sing [...]
Daniel Mendelsohn suggests that "the greatest part of the audience for Mad Men is made up not, as you might have imagined at one point, by people of the generation it depicts—people who were in their twenties and thirties and forties in the 1960s, and are now in their sixties and seventies and eighties—but by viewers in their forties and early fifties today, which is to say of an age with those characters’ children. The point of identification is, in the end, not Don but Sally, not Betty but Glen: the watching, hopeful, and so often disillusioned children who would grow up to be this program’s audience, watching their [...]
There will be plenty of excitement this evening at 10 PM Eastern when a pissy Peyton Manning scowls on the sidelines in our nation's capital AMC airs the finale to Season 4 of "Mad Men." While the redoubtable Natasha Vargas-Cooper will of course be brining you your weekly installment of Footnotes tomorrow, the way our shared cultural heritage works these days is that everyone watches something and immediately jumps on the Internet to talk about it. (Sometimes they even do so during the event.) So we may as well set up a water cooler (your choice if beverage may vary) right here in anticipation. See you later on [...]
For drama, in the Greek sense, to resonate with the modern viewer it needs have three elements: Acknowledgement of the universe's benign indifference, recognition of the utter loneliness of human existence and a commitment to something or someone outside oneself even in the face of those two principles.
According to their press release, Jon Hamm is on the cover of the October Details: "After years of struggling, Jon Hamm finally arrived with Mad Men, creating a style icon who's come to help us rediscover our lost masculine cool. He is…THE LAST ALPHA MALE." Haha, okay! The last, you say! Bonus fun profile sentence: "Hamm's high-school girlfriend's older brother's college roommate was an eager actor named Paul Rudd." And a spoiler alert: worst so-obviously editor-inserted last sentence of a magazine profile ever. Should have been headlined Jon Hamm Has A Sad.
Don Draper didn't know his father, so he examines figures of male authority that he dreads becoming. One is Roger Sterling. Unfortunately, Don's current trajectory points to a Sterling finish. Right now, he's an entitled lush who skips out on his family, cuts corners, sleeps with the secretaries and-worst of all-he settles for mediocre copy. One day you're taking a drunken self-congratulatory lap around a conference room of potential clients, the next day you're in a dusty corner office wistfully dictating your memoir to a bored secretary.