While Waugh wore his reactionary heart on his sleeve in Brideshead, Weiner maintains plausible deniability in Mad Men by methodically depicting how unenlightened the upper-middle class WASPs of a half century ago were. We in the audience are scandalized to note, for example, that even the most respectable parents in 1960 devoted more time to socializing with other adults than to obsessively overseeing their offspring’s next leap up the steep slope of the meritocratic pyramid.
Moreover, many families in 1960 can afford a home on just one income. As Betty Friedan noted, housewives are imprisoned in their suburban homes, escaping in Mad Men only, well … any time they feel like it.
Worse, firms pay married workers more than equally productive single ones, in violation of all the tenets of Friedan and Friedman. Employers back then felt they had a “duty to society,” a concept with which our advanced cultures are no longer familiar.
Today the assumption is that we do not need taboos against divorce and against irresponsible personal behavior. Instead we see people pursuing personal fulfillment and personal moral codes shaped to suit each person's desires. The irresponsible parents are no longer labeled as such. Illegitimacy of births is now simply single parenthood, another lifestyle choice.
Even more shockingly, the employees at the Sterling Cooper ad agency knock off work right at 5:15 PM each day. They appear to have some weird Depression-era relic of a notion of solidarity among American workers: that if the bosses want more work done, they should hire more workers.
Nowadays if the bosses want more work done they outsource and pressure employees to work longer hours.
Read the whole essay and his previous essay that builds up to this one. Also see my post Feminists Who Go Crazy For Don Draper. Mad Men is a nostalgic look at a time when people were more authentic and less driven to spout politically correct nonsense. The reality is still there under the rhetoric. You just have to believe your lying eyes.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2009 November 04 09:26 PM Culture Compared|