October 12, 2009
Now that I’ve finished The Wire, I’ve started Netflixing Mad Men (which is to say – I’m still on Season 1, NO SPOILERS PLEASE). Much like The Wire, I’m having a few issues getting into it. The pilot is very much whacking you over the head with “LIFE WAS DIFFERENT IN THE 60’S.” I was commenting to the MomBoss (who is also Netflixing the show) that the show is a good illustration for why the feminist movement was necessary. Among other things.
It’s weird to relate to the characters who are from an era that’s far enough in the past to be completely out of my lifetime, but close enough to the present that these characters are contemporaries of my grandparents. And it’s pretty damn uncomfortable to think of my grandparents boozing and womanizing. Ye G-ds. And did everybody smoke in those days? My grandfather smoked a pipe, but I don’t remember any of my other grandparents smoking – maybe they all quit? But there’s just that one guy on the show who doesn’t smoke and he is constantly eating lollipops. Was society in general just stuck in an Oedipal oral fixation phase?
Anyhow, the subject line of this post comes from the junction in my mind between Mad Men and Rabbit, Run. I had a lot of trouble getting into the latter due to what seemed like a rather lot of whining. There’s nothing special about Rabbit Angstrom, which is exactly the point of the novel. What makes you so special when there’s nothing special about you?
Mad Men and Rabbit, Run are contemporaries of a sort – the former is set in the period where the latter was written – and both have that undercurrent of “Life is perfect. So why do I have this angst?” If I had a nickel for the number of allusions in the first three episodes of Mad Men to the “perfect life” that had been achieved by the wife, two kids, and house in the suburbs, I could buy a latte. But we all know that if life really was perfect, we wouldn’t be watching a drama created by same folks behind the Sopranos – we’d be watching Leave it To Beaver.
So, here we are exploring the inner angst of the 60s. And it kind of makes me squirm and/or want to slap the protagonists in the face and tell them to stop whining.
Another contemporary of the Mad Men, of course, is my darling Jack. I’ve always felt a certain resonance with the Beats, which is maybe why it’s so hard for me to relate to what they were all rebelling against. My parents were very much hippies, and being a second-generation hippie myself, it’s way easier for me to relate to the guy who would rather be a hobo than wear a suit than the suit-wearing dude who has some kind of inner ennui.
Though I must say, I think that Jon Hamm and Jack Kerouac were separated at birth. Maybe when he’s done being Don Draper, Jon could play the man himself and I could cream my pants.