Sunday, January 16, 2011


The implicit theme of the show, lurking and wafting between the lines like telltale cigarette smoke, is how regressive the 50s were measured by all the liberal progress America has gone through since then. 

In the context of this theme, dramatic tensions are played out among the various characters showing them struggling with the 50s in their individual conscience and in social and romantic interactions, in a more or less semi-conscious way.

The modern “enlightenment” of the writers and directors is reflected in varying degrees by various characters. The bearded office worker, for example, who has a black girlfriend, spouts vaguely Trotskyite nonsense, and went on a Martin Luther King bus ride at one point, obviously represents the progressive curve; while the silver-haired womanizing prick “Roger Sterling” (played wickedly by actor John Slattery) epitomizes the gold standard of the 50s Unevolved Man.

Indeed, Roger Sterling is depicted as a worse "lout" than the anti-heroish star of the show, Don Draper (as Debbie Schlussel in her review calls him, adding that the actor who plays him, Jon Hamm, is "hot"), the latter of whom the writers and directors tend often to endow and imbue with vaguely progressive (i.e., liberalish) qualities of character.  One scene, for example, vividly showed this, when Roger Sterling, at a garden party among 50s business bigwigs, puts on a blackface minstrel act on the stage set up in a gazebo, and was unselfconsciously reveling in it, while Don Draper scowled and sulked in the wings then stalked off in a liberally indignant huff. Many more scenes of various kinds throughout the seasons could be adduced to illustrate more or less the same point.

In this light, I find that the show often dips a little too unctuously into a kind of arrogantly self-congratulatory/self-flagellating denigration of the era of the late 50s/early 60s in its heavy-handed mocking of their “regressive” ways compared to all the unquestionable “Progress” we enlightened politically correct New Americans have managed to develop since that time. (In this respect the show resembles the CBS television police drama Cold Case.)

In doing so, it indulges in the Myth of the Fifties that has been constructed by 60s-era counter-cultural academics and their progeny in the various pop media throughout the 70s and beyond.  Like most effective myths, the Myth of the Fifties is not 100% false: it weaves many facts and truths about the era deftly in a tapestry of caricature, satire, exaggeration, and agenda-driven mockery, denigration and hypercriticism. (One of the perhaps more trivial examples of this mockery occurs in scenes that show one or more of the characters hacking and coughing because of their habit of smoking cigarettes with abandon: this comes off as a little too heavy-handed and rings more of burlesque buffoonery than of realism.)

I just wish the show would more often err on the opposite side -- toward celebrating the martini-guzzling cigarette-smoking secretary-chasing-around-the-desk joi de vivre of the 50s, Dean Martin style; rather than indulging in exposing the dark, pitiful and regressive side.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

You know the old saying.

My former blog, The Hesperado, was mysteriously "removed" by Google and Magog.  And since I had other blogs linked to it (such as Resource for The Hesperado and Jihad Watch Watch), they were swallowed up into the wormhole too.  

Some six years of writing essays on the problem of Islam, and the related problem of the West ignoring the problem of Islam in a variety of ways (such as, for example, a major blog website yanking a person's blog because it was found by some belatedly zealous official -- probably at the instigation of a complainant with a deluded ax to grind against me (the Jihad Watch reader and anger-management-challenged defender of Robert Spencer "awake" comes to mind) -- to contain what their terms of service describes as "content that promotes hate or violence towards groups based on race, ethnicity, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status, or sexual orientation/gender identity. For example, don't write a blog saying that members of Race X are criminals or advocating violence against followers of Religion Y") -- all vanished this morning, before I could swallow my last gulp of coffee.

So I made lemonade.