The Re-Branding of America: Mad Men

Pop Culture, re:brand

Love Mad Men. I’ll digress before I socio-politically rant off topic. The best advertisement for any show is the opening credits — Mad Men being advertisement does this brilliantly. A taste of the what before the so what …

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Why watch Mad Men? Why Tweet? I don’t know, probably because everyone else is doing it; but, you just do — if you don’t like it, stop doing it. If you don’t like it, you don’t get it — but you’ll probably keep doing it because you want other people to think you get it.

Again, digress.

Our world is a mad mad ad world. Note the colorful, illustrative, detailed, skyscrapers portraying an idealized fantasy. No windows on these buildings, because you cannot see into the machine, you cannot see beyond the curtain to the Wizard of Oz. However these advertisements that tower above your reality, they are all you see as you come crashing down. Don Draper, the man behind the machine has no face. He has no identity beyond what he does — he is whatever you imagine him to be, and yet you don’t even know he exists. You live in his world the he creates, you are the product of a person who isn’t. The world is the canvas of an ad executive. To a man that is a mystery, the world reflects his ambiguity; the result: chaos created when perception is the reality. It’s all smoke and mirrors, it’s all smiles and veneers. That dream they create though — in the midst of all the chaos it creates — that portrayed ideal is “The Best America Has to Offer” it is “The Gift That Never Fails.”

Most apropos of all is the song — the theme — “A Beautiful Mine.” What a beautiful mine it is in which we live, just awaiting the explosion. What’s more American than fireworks, who cares how quickly you burn out as long as you burn bright?

Watch this space: the show is pretty much amazing

Sidenote: As a product of mediated modern society, I like shows where I can align myself with a character; Mad Men is not one of those shows. (Unless you count the one girl who worked at the grocery store, went to campaign on the Mississippi Delta, and dated Don’s colleague). Mad Men has not too many black people — to my mom’s disdain. However, that’s the necessary authenticity in a show built on the subtext. The opening scene featured a subtle dialogue between Don and an older black waiter, I’m not going to explain the scene because you should watch it for yourself. The scene though, sets the racial premise of the era and the series that will follow; the dialogue catalyzes Don’s Lucky Strike campaign, and career as far as we know. Personally, I think there’s a little nudge nudge to the Elvis theory.  The black characters Mad Men does have, are there for a specific reason — they play roles that blacks played in the fifties. They have jobs that fade into the background, but what they say, how they say it, and their points of view are those of people who see the world for what it is — not what Don Draper presents it to be. For the record though, I was a fan of Titanic. If it had black people just to be politically correct, that’d be borderline — and by borderline I mean, straight up and down — ridiculous.

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