Sunday, August 23, 2009

Mad Men are Bad Men

Mad Men is entering its third season and has earned rave reviews from critics. In regards to its cultural commentary, Ross Douthat summarizes a typical liberal view of the show:

Mad Men, she [The Nation’s Anna McCarthy] writes, is "concerned with
demonstrating the progress we've made in gender relations since the alienated
years before the women's movement," and with dramatizing "the disaffection of
midcentury suburbia's 'lonely crowd' and the oppressive expectations of the
feminine mystique," not to mention "the hatefulness of conformist WASP culture.

Since Conservatives usually oppose ‘progress,’ one would expect that they would hate the show; however, Rod Dreher argues, “Surely conservatives don't want to be in the position of defending a social order that degraded women, subordinated blacks…” I hope not. Moreover, Conservatives should contest Gordon Gekko prototype presented in the show. Unfortunately, Gekko is stil popular among many Conservatives today.

The characters in Mad Men want to come across as virtuous (family men who work hard) while in secret they are not (domineering husbands and neglectful parents who are never at their desk). Lacking goodness, they are unhappy too-a point missed by this POMO Cons post.
Don Draper, the show's lead, is an updated version of Fitzgerald's Gatsby. As Thomas Hibbs puts it, he "is the ultimate self-made man, an identity thief who wants to escape from his past." Like Gatsby, we see Draper's divided self as he constantly tries to sustain a myth. The difference between the two is we pity Gatsby, but not Draper. To this point, someone recently told me he stopped watching the show because "there was no one to root for." Whether or not Draper repeats Gatsby's swimming mishap, we can be fairly certain where he will end up.

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