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February 18th, 2010

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05:42 pm - Man Men Blogging
I have seen two more episodes of Mad Men season three: 4 'The Arrangements' and 5 'The Fog'. I think the heft of the series is building now. Pete Campbell's revulsion for the blackface minstrel act was a foreshadowing, as he finds himself advocating multiracial advertising, which everyone else thinks is ridiculous (a TV manufacturer asks if it's even legal). I wonder whether he will live up to this promise, or let himself down as usual.

Don Draper continues to seem slightly subdued, as his wife goes into labour and gives birth. It must be strange to be him, as women throw themselves at him. As Peggy says 'You have everything, and so much of it.' I quoted someone's comment before, that Don Draper is 'psycho, but emo with it'. I think there is an irresolvable tension within capitalism between the need to be selfish and the need to be competent. I don't think it's possible to be intelligent or happy without being compassionate. This is a very old idea - I think Aristotle called it 'eudaimonia' - and I think the problem of eudaimonia might be the central theme that is explored in series 3.

Draper's company is explicitly run by Randian objectivists and selfish bastards. It is like capitalism made plain. In 'The Arrangements' they extract a million dollars from an idiot rich boy, and Don's qualms barely disturb the efficiency of the stripping.

It's my belief that fascism can only be parasitic on humanity, and ultimately capitalism itself is parasitic on non-capitalist powers - creativity, family, empathy, altruism. I think this contradiction is looming up for Don, and I don't know how he will cope with it.

I was thinking as I watched these episodes how self-confident the aesthetic is, how whole and unperturbed the surfaces are. This is untenable, but very attractive. There are forces pushing towards clarity and honesty and yet the effect of truth will be to destroy those surfaces.

(2 comments | Leave a comment)


Date:May 14th, 2010 07:58 am (UTC)

3rd belated comment

I thought this was a genius post. Everything you say here is brilliant and captures what is so compelling about the series even though it is so very surface. It's about the meaning of the surface?

I am mostly commenting because I couldn't believe no one did!
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Date:May 14th, 2010 08:16 am (UTC)

Re: 3rd belated comment

Thanks for your comments on Mad Men. I'm so glad you liked it.

I think sometimes that when lj people post their full thoughts on something, they don't get so many comments back. I think people read it and don't have anything to add?

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