Don Zerilli Mooradian
Donald Draper is the devil. He used hippies to sell Coke and, I suspect, would eventually be responsible for plastering diamond-studded peace symbols on expensive handbags.
It’s all in a day’s work for insane advertising people who see humans as just so many dollars to be pilfered. Draper can have his moments of regret and, even, late in his life, empathy. But come morning, it will be back to the drawing boards inventing the next new craving for hollow headed consumers.
And while today’s average citizen likely is a more savvy buyer than in the 1960s, the economy is still fueled on consumption patterns that strip the planet raw and leave wage earners chasing the materialistic hopes and products tied to their tails in a never-ending fantasy that once the tail is caught all will be well. We feel the self-inflicted pain of chomping down on that “tale” all too late.
While Mad Men was a wonderful parade of character studies, it seems to me that too many jerks were rewarded for being jerks–big, Grade A, Jerk Hall of Fame jerks. Which of these people would you actually want to work with? No thanks.
(Even given that today’s social, if not legal, rules and regs would likely have bounced most of these folks [meaning mostly the men] out onto the street, there are still many, many Drapers out there involved in interoffice and corporate shenanigans that skirt if not outright ignore laws. So the games continue.)
To the degree that Mad Men was fun and interesting as a study in characters, it seems the initial take on Draper’s last moments on camera are along the lines of: Draper finally came to some reconciliation between Don and Dick and, oh, by the way, it would be groovy to have hippies sing about world peace and Coke. There was just enough sweet-and-sour to not disturb the show’s overall feel and character arcs.
However, I can already read and hear a growing revisionism: Draper finally “got it.” This is something I had thought would make the show worthwhile in the long run. My interest in the show was more on the meta level of how the 1960s changed the world we live in and will probably live in for a long time. Western society changed in way that separates everything after the 1960s from everything before it, (in some ways) going back thousands of years.
Really and truly, though, Draper did not get it. Most of society did not get it.
The struggle between sizzle and substance continues and will continue. The Don Drapers are still out there with their “feel good” ads and slick political campaigns. But it should not be that difficult for even the dullest among us to tell the difference between the “real thing” and a bottle of carbonated sugar water. And knowing that difference, we should act and react accordingly to those who would deceive us with pretty pictures and cute songs. Get the facts; forget the fantasy.
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