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Mad Men blogging with redirection

In comments to last week’s post, Amanda French writes:

I also think that almost anything Don does is ipso facto right; exactly what “his game” is must always remain mysterious, because he’s basically the Magic Advertising Man.

Amanda is taking issue with my claim that Don was “off his game” in that Waldorf meeting with Conrad Hilton.  Very well, my Internet friend:  what are we to make, in last night’s episode, of Don’s response to Peggy asking about the Hilton account?  What. A. Total. Asshole.  And even worse, unbeknownst to Don, the encounter not only brings Peggy to tears but leads her to consider Duck Phillips’ offer.  Poor Peggy.  Smacked down by Don, she winds up ... what is the phrase?  Having sexual relations with a duck.

Oh, right, I forgot—some of you came here looking for my response to the responses to my CHE essay on cultural studies.  It’s over here, at a blog that has (a) a more international and interdisciplinary readership and (b) a “more” button.

I have to take a nice long nap after writing all that, but I’ll be back later this week with some pics from Jamie’s 18th birthday party.  With gratitude to Gojira but especially to Oaktown Girl (comment 36 32), I can report that the gathering was indeed happy and well-attended.  And that Jamie bowled an only-slightly-bumper-assisted 134 in his second game.

Posted by on 09/28 at 07:53 AM
  1. comment 36

    Correct! In base 8 2⁄3.

    I assume Jamie’s age and bowling score are expressed in more conventional base 10.

    Posted by  on  09/28  at  10:16 AM
  2. While Don’s crabbiness w/ Peggy was in direct response to a query about the Hilton account Don had just come from a meeting where he was pressured about signing a contract with Sterling Cooper. Management claimed the contract was a necessary condition for the Hilton account but it is so convenient that that the Hilton and Sterling Cooper interests are identical in this matter. Snakes.

    BTW, yesterday I was with a group that had no exposure or stated interest in the Mad Men show. The AMC Mad Men marathon was on in the background and the group was watching very attentively. The group was older so the interest may have been in the 60s sets and scenery but I can’t discount the sub-currents of the show playing with our perceptions just like the real life Mad People.

    Posted by  on  09/28  at  10:45 AM
  3. Correct! In base 8 2⁄3.

    Grrr.  Stupid base 10.  OK, fixed now.

    Posted by  on  09/28  at  11:07 AM
  4. Back to American Airspace?

    Posted by  on  09/28  at  11:12 AM
  5. Back to American Airspace?

    He was afraid that I’d keep using the expression “Twen Cen” otherwise.

    Posted by  on  09/28  at  11:25 AM
  6. I wonder how Qaddafi feels about being thrown under the bus.

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  09/28  at  11:39 AM
  7. I think Putin is the right guy. But I humbly suggest a new photo, with a ginormous Putin holding a little Obama in his palm. (ala King Kong)

    Posted by  on  09/28  at  11:48 AM
  8. elroy:  American Airspace, fuck yeah!  mds:  you got that right, brother.  Bill:  I don’t think Qaddafi ever knew he was on the bus.  Elliot:  I go to blog with the photoshops I have, not with the photoshops I’d like to have.

    Posted by Michael  on  09/28  at  12:18 PM
  9. I concur that Don certainly was a tremendous jerk that episode (both to Peggy and Betty and well, actually, pretty much everybody except the young draft dodger who knocked him in the back of the head). There’s a major fear of being tied down to anything here; that sense of freedom and unwritten denstiny that he so prizes in young Gene seems to be one of the most important driving forces in Don’s life. So much so that occupying any role (the faithful husband, the mentor for impressive young colleagues, the go-to ad man for major accounts) seems to be unthinkable. Don reminds me a great deal of Rabbit Angstrom in that way.

    Also, how about Burt Cooper breaking out the extremely sinister threat at the end of last night’s episode? Forget cutting off relations with Sterling! How about cutting off relations with the guy who’s threatening to expose your carefully crafted identity as a complete charade? I’d cut off those relations faster than a lawn mower cuts off a British interloper’s foot! (Too soon? Ok, too soon. Still not funny yet… I’ll just go back to watching The Black Knight scene from Monty Python one too many times).

    Posted by  on  09/28  at  02:02 PM
  10. Yeah, that was an amazing moment when Cooper hauled out the “who’s really signing this document” line.  One wonders if Don might have been more tempted to bolt—as he was when Campbell initially threatened him and he responded by inviting Rachel Mencken to skip town with him forever—if he hadn’t just been visited by the hallucination of his jug-hoisting stepfather, mocking him for his soft hands and his career as a bullshit artist.

    Captcha:  society.

    Posted by Michael  on  09/28  at  02:22 PM
  11. Eek, I’ve only read this with half an eye, using my special Internet Friend Spoiler Skimming Skills, because I haven’t seen the latest episode yet. I’m keeping an open mind & will reply soonest. smile

    Posted by Amanda French  on  09/28  at  02:38 PM
  12. I am relieved to see that this web-log has returned to its roots in good ol’ American Russian-fearing values (captcha; no shit).
    Khadhaffy gave me the creeps, with the shades and uniform; Chavez not so much, he looks kinda friendly.
    As Dr. Strange might say, “By the Pate of Putin!”

    Posted by  on  09/28  at  02:47 PM
  13. Totally OT, Michael, but I thought if anyone should know about this band, it’s you.

    Posted by Gary Oxford  on  09/28  at  03:21 PM
  14. Well the White House (Qaddafi tent?) seemed to not work in Happy Valley, so perhaps allowing Putin to look over it for a while may help.

    Still trying to figure out how “downers” could produce such cool hallucinations, it would have made things a whole lot cheaper after October 6, 1966 and especially after October 24, 1968.  Gosh i loath October.

    Posted by  on  09/28  at  11:42 PM
  15. Does he have to beg? Someone with some mad Photoshop skills, please get the man some pictures of al-Qadhaafy that are commensurate with his training and experience.

    Posted by  on  09/29  at  02:32 AM
  16. And now, a word from those no longer peering over our landscape.  Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi (sic) called on Monday for a new global definition of terrorism.

    Posted by  on  09/29  at  03:20 AM
  17. glad to see Reuters is not only keeping us up to date on Ghuydhaphi and Chavez’s new definition of terrorism, but also enlightening us on Khaddhaffi’s sartorial and shopping skills

    Posted by  on  09/29  at  02:13 PM
  18. I wonder where, in the new definition of terrorism, we would fit the use of unmanned drones that allegedly kill terrorists but really have a hard time telling them from innocent civilians. (They all dress alike and the drone pattern recognition software isn’t quite there yet.)

    Posted by  on  09/29  at  02:20 PM
  19. Don is complicated. Peggy is complicated. The relationship between Don & Peggy is complicated. Don is almost always right. Don was probably right in substance with Peggy, if wrong in tone.

    Peggy has been a copywriter for two years. She is 24. She does not have a degree, let alone an Ivy League degree. Yet in the room with Duck, she immediately asks for the Copy Chief position. I love Peggy, but she is a little nuts.

    Also remember Don was once where Peggy is, with a weak background. My guess is that it took Don ten years of being a total jerk to become head of Creative.

    Peggy needs to stop asking, and take what she wants. She definitely needs to become meaner and more active at office politics. She needs to become so indispensable at SC that management begs her to advance. Remember, Stirling and Cooper came to Don with offers.

    There’s a lot of other stuff in that scene:father-daughter, feminist etc. I recommend the blog “Basket of Kisses” where the commenters analyze at excruciating length.

    Posted by  on  09/29  at  02:28 PM
  20. Peggy needed just a ton of harsh. She is on the edge of blowing it.

    How it’s done:Don gets an outside offer, lets the grapevine spread the word, and Roger rushes in with the partnership. I’m scared Peggy will get in Don’s face with Duck’s offer, and Don will be forced to say “Bye.” Sleeping with Duck was not a great career move.

    The other guys don’t tell her about Hilton. Pete is still offering Peggy advice. Yes, it’s sexism, but they wouldn’t have done that with Joan, because Joan was freaking scary. I think the doors are open to Peggy, but she has to “man-up” and intimidate the boys she is working with.

    Posted by  on  09/29  at  02:52 PM
  21. Well American culture sure took a big beating today (at least from my viewpoint of the viewshed).
    Phyllis Schlafly:

    I submit to you that the feminist movement is the most dangerous, destructive force in our society today. [...] My analysis is that the gays are about 5% of the attack on marriage in this country, and the feminists are about 95%. [...] I’m talking about drugs, sex, illegitimacy, drop outs, poor grades, run away, suicide, you name it, every social ill comes out of the fatherless home.

    Frank Gaffney:

    If Bill Clinton, on the basis of special interest pandering and identity politics, was properly called the first Black American President, on that same basis, Barack Obama should be called the first Muslim American President. […] But there is evidence that a lot of Muslims think he is Muslim. But whether he is or whether he isn’t, the key to me, is is he pursuing that is indistinguishable in important respects from that of the Muslim Brotherhood…

    Senator Ensign:

    When you take into account cultural factors — the fact that we drive cars a lot more than any other country; we are much more mobile. ...  If you take out accidental deaths due to car accidents, and you take out gun deaths — because we like our guns in the United States and there are a lot more gun deaths in the United States — you take out those two things, you adjust those, and we actually better in terms of survival rates.

    So, to sum up: If we would just use our guns and automobiles to run down, gun down, and kill: feminists, muslims, gays, deadbeat dads, and so forth; we would have great health care???

    Posted by  on  09/29  at  08:28 PM
  22. With gratitude to Gojira but especially to Oaktown Girl (comment 32), I can report that the gathering was indeed happy and well-attended.

    Michael - I am so happy to hear the wonderful news that all the WAAGNFNP offerings made on Jamie’s birthday behalf were accepted by Great Gojira… Praise Be to Lord Astaroth! Looking forward to the part-ay pics!

    Posted by  on  09/30  at  01:26 AM
  23. Okay, I’ve now done the reading viewing! I’m now actually a bit more open to the idea that we’re supposed to see Don as “off his game” with Connie Hilton. You know why? Because Don sat down in the wrong chair. Reluctantly, but he did it. I fully expected Don to charmingly but firmly get Conrad the fuck OUT of HIS chair, but instead Don displayed a rare sackless moment and let CH take and keep the upper hand. Mistake, if you ask me.

    Which, by the way, is mostly why he was such a dick to Peggy. Don is losing control and he knows it. Worse, it’s going to be harder and harder for him to be the best at what he does. What he tells Peggy to do ("Get better. Quit asking for things.") is his tried and true method of advancement. He’s as angry at himself as he is at her, in that scene, and he’s giving himself the same advice that he’s giving her. The only problem is that that method might not be the right one for him any more—Don might not be able to get any better at what he does. Doesn’t matter beyond a certain point how well you swim when you’re swimming with sharks. Connie told him last time that he *does* need to ask. But asking means admitting you’re subordinate.

    And asking has worked well for Peggy up to this point. It was a big deal for Peggy to start asking for things: nice girls don’t ask. Still, given where she is in her career, Don’s asshole advice is probably right for her at the moment.

    In general, the secret of Don’s advertising magic is that he takes whatever crap is going on in his own life and turns it into a compelling campaign. (Instead of dealing with it, by the way.) The zenith of that technique was, of course, the Carousel pitch, which set whats-his-face to sobbing. And I went back to that scene with Sal and Don on the airplane, and it’s true: Don does warn Sal as well as reassure him, with the telling and rather *too* appropriate tagline “Minimize your exposure.”

    But sometimes Don is depicted as having adman magic that doesn’t come from there and that seems forced. The “It’s toasted” Lucky Strike campaign and the speech he gave to the Madison Square Garden guy who was going to tear down Penn Station (thank heavens it’s only fiction and they didn’t really do that!) amounted to “Ignore the bad publicity.” I don’t know why that’s such genius. And just in general, the stylized dialogue of Mad Men is beginning to grate on me a bit.

    Final point: I forgot to mention how grateful I was for the disability studies reading. That was actually very useful. And wasn’t that a masterful reading of the line “He’ll never golf again” from that dude who used to be on The Nanny and As The World Turns? Good work, British dude!

    Posted by Amanda French  on  09/30  at  01:41 AM
  24. Gosh, following Amanda is not easy in this queue. 

    Cultural studies inquiry?  In which department/discipline/speciality will i find responses to this question???  Consider that a contingent of farmers and farmworkers came together to participate in a rally featuring FoxNews commentator Sean Hannity.  Consider that the talking point of this event was government intervention that harms various economic interests with special support from corporate lobbyists.  The key talking point was that the “farmers” needed CA to turn “their water on,” especially in regard to the snail darter fish, an seriously endangered species.  So the question: Did the farmers (who knew that the water had actually been turned on three months earlier, as scheduled and agreed to) agree to participate in this rally, knowing the talking point was a lie, agree to do so because of either participating in something that would be on TV, or participating because they could say they were close to Sean Hannity???? Inquiring minds need to know why relatively decent conservative people would consensually participate in creating a disinformation moment????

    As weird as it seems there is a cultural studies research environment here, and in many ways, we need it now more than ever.

    Posted by  on  09/30  at  03:18 AM
  25. Mad Men, *Sigh*

    MM was practically the only feature on that newfangled TV contraption that I’ve halfway followed recently.  Unfortunately, several technical glitches associated with the digital reconfrabulation of said medium have left us high and dry this season.

    Must remember to pester that outlaw brother-in-law to fetch bootleg files soon, so’s I can rejoin the informed gossipeers.  Chesterfields are mild!

    Posted by  on  09/30  at  04:26 AM
  26. Isn’t this sort of interview the topic and focus of critical inquiry of cultural studies?? Here Ken Burns is discussing base issues of race, class, democracy, and so far forth, all the while celebrating what it is to be a citizen in the nation.  He is so well informed.

    Posted by  on  09/30  at  04:46 AM
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