Belmont Club

You might just find

John Boot has an article in Pajamas Media asking “Why Do Women Love Mad Men?”.  Boot wants to know why female audiences apparently love the lead character in a TV drama set in a 1960s advertising agency named Don Draper. Wikipedia says that “Mad Men has received highly positive critical response since its premiere. Viewership for the premiere at 10 p.m. on July 19, 2007, was higher than any other AMC original series to date. A New York Times reviewer called the series groundbreaking for “luxuriating in the not-so-distant past. … in the period in which Mad Men takes place, ‘play is part of work, sexual banter isn’t yet harassment, and America is free of self-doubt, guilt, and countercultural confusion.'” How can they like him, when he’s such a cad?

The WSJ says “behind the smooth-talking, chain-smoking, misogynist advertising executives on ‘Mad Men’ is a group of women writers, a rarity in Hollywood television. Seven of the nine members of the writing team are women. Women directed five of the 13 episodes in the third season.” Stranger and stranger. Boot has a theory:

What do women want? The answer is obvious. They want Don Draper. But they don’t know why. … here he is picking up a stewardess in an out-of-town hotel under an alias while his pretty little wife is home pregnant. Any other TV hero who behaved like this would have the feminists outraged, but a glance around the women’s blogs shows that if Mad Men is a soap that men need not be ashamed to watch, it’s women who are positively swooning over the character and the show, which returns Aug. 16 and has earned 16 Emmy nominations for last year’s second season. Why does Don get a pass?

Maybe because at least some in the audience want to give him one. Boot thinks Don Draper’s appeal rests on a secret longing for the two-fisted, hairy-chested, hard-drinking man who political correctness has hunted to extinction. Audiences admire him both because he is admirable in a certain sort of way, but most of all because he can be safely viewed through a TV show where audiences can, as the NYT puts it, indulge in “luxuriating in the not-so-distant past”. Just as we prefer to encounter tigers through the bars of a cage rather than have them sitting beside us in our living rooms, modern politically correct audiences can find a Don Draper amusing because he is at 40 years’ remove. As Saving Private Ryan and Jurassic Park proved, liberal audiences don’t mind watching powerful and unbridled creatures rippling in action provided the scene is set at a safe distance. The Greatest Generation is admired despite the fact — of perhaps because of the fact — that it incinerated cities, interned alien races and nuked enemy population centers into radioactive ash. The key to understanding the popularity BBC’s historical dramas or science fiction fare is that they provide acceptable action settings for the kind of people politically correct society no longer allows. Like Walter Mitty such societies have a life of secret longings hidden behind their pursed and narrow lips.

It is double-think at its finest, and nobody needs it more than the Left. After all, what committed socialist likes to be reminded that all government money comes from private enterprise? That would take all the fun out of spending it. Who wants to tell the European Union that the only reason it isn’t a nonentity like the African Union is because it stands on the shoulders of a history it despises? Where would all their moral authority go then? Fantasy is an indispensable part of modern political life.  Contradictions must pass unnoticed if the play is to be allowed to continue. Yet the audience occasionally glances outside the theater. Part of the attraction that Left feels for Jihadis and primitive warriors lies precisely in that they haven’t followed their politically correct instructions. Groucho Marx once said that he would never want to be a member of a club that would accept him as a member. In an analogous kind of way the Left never truly admires someone stupid enough to believe them. Desert raiders are liked exactly because they aren’t timid souls living in council housing staring down at their shoes waiting desperately for the community policeman whenever ‘youths’ come to rob them.

Boot says “Mad Men is a testament to … a consensus that the unpleasant parts of the past ought to be enthusiastically buried. There’s no monster of the deep so fearsome that it can’t be chased away for a moment or two with a pitcher of martinis.” Yes there is if there’s a lingering suspicion that we might need something like these monsters back one day. The problem with September 11 and the global financial crisis aren’t that they happened, but that  they happened where they couldn’t be hidden; couldn’t be waved away with a pitcher of martinis and a TV remote.  Not everyone wants to be reminded that fantasy doesn’t work forever and that maybe the politically correct man won’t be able to cope when the day comes.  But if that someday comes then let’s bring them all back. Not just the Don Drapers but the good and true men who have no “secret place wherein to stoop to sin and shame”. Until then, the party goes uneasily on and the glances pass on many levels.

I saw her today at the reception
In her glass was a bleeding man
She was practiced at the art of deception
Well I could tell by her blood-stained hands

You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You just might find
You get what you need

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