Sunday, 14 March 2010

Nostalgie for the Mad

First law of TV: whenever a show wins critical acclaim it is 100% certifiably politically correct. “Mad Men,” the latest retro hit depicting life, love and Lucky Strikes in 1960 era Madison Avenue, looks “incorrect” enough, but that's only to allow the audience/critics to assume an even more politically correct attitude toward the benighted dopes of that age. Don't let that unapologetic cloud of cigarette smoke take you in. Real meaning: the whole era was in a haze compared to the present. Its immediate appeal is based on dramatic irony, where the audience knows what the characters do not, in this case, the Truth About Everything. The show is especially dishonest on the sexism issue, making the women into silent suffering pioneers instead of the babes on the make that they were – and are. Still, the fact that so many corporations are vying for product placement on the set seems to belie the creator's smug moralizing. The advertisers really seem to want their brands to be associated with these white-shirt primitives. Maybe today's Madison Ave types wistfully recognize their own lineage in the cast's uninhibited greed and calculation, a nostalgie for the mud as the French say. Or maybe we all recognize something of ourselves in their uninhibited life. People actually said what they wanted to say back then, without everything getting strained through the stifling filter of “acceptable” behavior. It was a “mad” time but it was a free time, a time when men were men and fags were … cigarettes! Good God! The air was choking with them, but man, at least you could breathe.

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