After John McCain closed out the Sharron Angle rally on Friday, her campaign coordinators played a bit of amateur propaganda. Pictures of foreclosed houses, stock photos of agonized couples looking at stacks of unpaid bills, a chart of unemployment rates, all flashing by quickly to a soaring soundtrack. At the crescendo of all this pictorial despair appeared the image of First Lady Michelle Obama. In it she is reclining on a beige chaise lounge in a sleeveless violet dress, one hand cupped along the side of her neck, revealing her diamond wedding ring that matches her teardrop diamond earrings, and above her is the big word Vogue, the [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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.
Julie Klausner: A big pet peeve of mine is when people confuse Bob Fosse's stiff jazz hands for spirit fingers.
Natasha Vargas-Cooper: UGH! Jazz hands are like Lady Liberty's crown of spikes. They make a precise statement. Spirit fingers are for RENAISSANCE FAIRE WEIRDOS.
Julie: They're deeply sexual, Fosse's hands, especially when you consider that he stuck his troll pole in every chorus girl.
In advance of the new season of Mad Men starting this weekend, today Mad Men Unbuttoned is released! Written by your friend and mine, Natasha Vargas-Cooper, the book launches way out from her cultural exploration project, The Footnotes of Mad Men. Here's a little chapter on some history of advertising in the period of Mad Men, from Doyle, Dane, and Bernbach, the real-world firm that haunts the halls of TV's Sterling Cooper.
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 [...]
All case summaries via SCOTUSblog.
16. Snyder v. Phelps: "Does the First Amendment protect protesters at a funeral from liability for intentionally inflicting emotional distress on the family of the deceased?"
15. General Dynamics Corp. v. United States: "Whether the government can maintain its claim against a party when it invokes the state-secrets privilege to completely deny that party a defense to the claim."
Julie Klausner: You and I are, it's safe to say, closet Camille Paglia appreciators.
Natasha Vargas-Cooper: Safe.
Julie: Closeted because she occasionally says crazy craziness, like when she wanted to rub herself all over Sarah Palin.
Natasha: Her political stuff is bonko but I intensely adore her cultural criticism.
Julie: When she got "politikul," twas a folly. Yet, I think Paglia is a better writer than her fellow agitators like say your Katie Roiphe.
Natasha: Don't bait me with my love of Katie Roiphe.
Julie: She's also funny, she can spin an adjective and she's persuasive.
Natasha: I love Paglia because she's she's bawdy [...]
The main ingredients of American counterculture formation all guest-starred in last night's "Mad Men" episode: abortion, Berkeley, Vietnam and, most ominously: young people. The â€˜youthquake' is not just an explosive population boom, it's when, supposedly, teenagers and college students seized control of culture from adults. At the very least, they seized control of the consumer goods market. Beginning around the 1920s, a common theme in advertising was to offer a return to youth and vitality (and relevance in the towering industrial age) through consumer goods. Oatmeal, face creams, sodas all made mention of youth in their slogans. But that was selling youth to the aging. In the 60s, the [...]
With this introduction, we begin a brief series on the recent life of the American musical. No, for real! The hideous, hilarious, wonderful, big-business of musical theater. This series is guest-edited by our own Natasha Vargas-Cooper.
Natasha Vargas-Cooper: Julie! Are musicals, as a genre, dead?
Julie Klausner: You startled me! What are you doing in my home? Wearing my favorite shirt-dress!
Natasha: Nobody expects the musical inquisition.
What do young women really talk about when they talk about The Twilight Saga: Eclipse? We asked experts Mary HK Choi and Natasha Vargas-Cooper to fill us in. Warning: contains spoilers, multiple pop culture references and graphic sexual language! Their analysis may also cause sudden-onset epilepsy in people under 18 or over 33.
Natasha Vargas-Cooper: What are your loins telling you about Twilight Part 3. Sparklequest?
Mary HK Choi: WELLZ. I LOVED it!
Natasha: It was exactly what I desired.
Mary: Plus? The dialogue was better this time.
Mary: Last time, I had to re-up my understandingness and suspension of disbelief every 6 seconds [...]
I spent yesterday at Sharron Angle for Senate Campaign Headquarters, in a strip mall in northern Las Vegas. The phonebank volunteers were targeting likely Angle supporters in rural parts of the state to take advantage of early voting, which ended last night. Most of my fellow volunteers (I was, I believe, the only fake volunteer) were over fifty—with the exception of Summer and Jordan, two bubbly seventeen-year-olds who both had family in the military—and white and not originally from Nevada. By coincidence, the three women in my adjoining cubby were from all from Pennsylvania, having moved to Nevada after their children were grown. The ladies, with their various shades [...]
Natasha Vargas-Cooper: I ain't going to lie to you. I went in wanting to hate. I was queasy thinking about what Fincher/Sorkin had to say about the Digital Generation and I was resistant to suffering through Jesse's flat-affect-acting.
Sasha Frere-Jones: I enjoyed the narrative locomotive, but the movie might as well have been about a struggle over the Enzongium contract in Quadrant K9. I would have liked that more, actually. This is first and foremost a movie about Sorkinese, a language that finds a comfy home in litigation. "The West Wing" was Walking and Talkingâ„¢-The Social Network is Sitting and Talking and Occasionally Dartingâ„¢.
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.
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 [...]
If real intimacy comes from shared vulnerability, perhaps there is nothing that makes one feel more used than false intimacy. We saw examples of this all throughout last night's episode: the invasive psychological test that went straight for the Freudian soft spot (how do you feeeeeel about your father?); Peggy's wormy baby-faced boyfriend cajoling her into sex; the instant kinship between creepy Glenn and Sally; and of course, the great climax featuring a broken Don Draper who, after a lonely Yuletide party, breaks all his own rules not so much for a quick plow on the couch but for a sleepover with the woman who knows what his kids want [...]
You know what hitting an emotional bottom sounds like? It's the open palm of a hooker's hand making contact with stubbly face in a darkened room on Thanksgiving as she joylessly rides you! That's what it sounds like: slap, slap, slap, welcome to the fall of 1964! This is the moment for which three seasons have prepared us: the cool and muted extended twilight of the Eisenhower patriarchy has at last gone pitch-black.