Monday, December 1, 2008
Mad Men in the Aggregate
Here's what I find evocative about Mad Men, if not reassuring:
By the early sixties the U.S. was responsible for nearly one-half of the world's GNP. If there ever was an entire demographic close enough to being born on third base this was it. In the corner office or on the factory floor if you could drag yourself to work your kept wifey woman had at least another decade for domestic life emptiness to sink in. Why start a Me Generation? The Us Generation had so much pie it hardly needed carving up.
It's no accident that Mad Men takes place at the Apex of America -- the peak earning years of the Greatest Generation. They kept everything under their hats -- except apparently the same prurient lusts and cultural conceits that gave rise to Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts.
What I suck from the tail pipe of Mad Men is this: No matter how many family members we send into the workforce, feelers to the next venture that would have us, or, prescriptions down to the local Walgreens, we are cheated. We want it all. Small was never beautiful -- even in this post GOP world of the immediate tomorrow. And if we can't have it all we can crave what our folks took for granted: the autopilot obsolescence of fat cars, gender bifurcation, meat and TV potatoes (heart attacks, failed marriages, and foreign oil not sponsored, endorsed, or anesthetized by Sterling Cooper).
You look at the unattainables now of our borrowed dreams and it includes:
* Social job security
* Paper plates, plastic cutlery
* Medium health care without high fructose
* Network anchors that Fox/MSNBC viewers respect and trust
* Sports heroes who look like us
To this craven observer we're aiming for our toes (are your toenails as brittle as mine?) We don't want access to clean drinking water and quality education. We're willing to reprise familiar economic hits if you forgive us through a few upcoming mortgage payments.
Mostly I spend my Mad Men bonding time floating in a thematic pool of Flotsam Jetsons. The alternative? It would be texting away the night on Second Life immersed in anti-social media.
- Marc Solomon
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