MADD Men’s Politically Incorrect Truths

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I love the show – and I love this article, which tells some uncomfortable truths:

By AW Morgan

You have to hand it to the brains behind Mad Men. The creators of AMC’s highly rated television series about an advertising agency in the 1960s have committed a Kinsley Gaffe—defined as the accidental revelation of Politically Incorrect truth.

Example: An episode in Season 4, “The Suitcase,” treats as background material the second heavyweight title fight between Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston in 1965, which Ali, of course, won. When lead character Don Draper asks his secretary, the aging Miss Blankenship, whether she will watch the fight, she answers: “If I wanted to see two Negroes fight, I’d throw a dollar bill out my window.”

Needless to say, the writers of the show intended to demonstrate the “casual racism” among whites back then, not reveal a truth about blacks; i.e., they are prone to violence, or about whites, many of whom lost interest in boxing after there stopped being white champions. Miss Blankenship unbosomed a Kinsley Gaffe.

While the alleged casual “racism” of the characters merely divulges the liberal biases of the program’s creators, they don’t likely know they are depicting a world that in many ways was better than the one we live in now. Or do they?

Mad Men is all white, all the time, probably a rather pleasant surprise for viewers weary of Hollywood’s annoying insistence on thrusting blacks, Asian and Hispanics into preposterous roles on nearly every television program. The program’s writers don’t create ridiculous black characters, putting them in positions such as doctors or lawyers that they typically did not attain back then,. Such is the incredible whiteness of Mad Men that The Root, the Washington Post’s race-baiting web publication for angry blacks, has a “Mad Men Black People Counter.”

The only blacks one sees in Mad Men are in tangential roles that depict them in subservient jobs: elevator operators, waitresses and waiters, and, of course, household domestics who care for the homes and children of rising white executives. Back then, such was the only contact many whites had with blacks.

The only important interaction Draper has with a black person other than his house servant, Carla, is a conversation with a black busboy about the type of cigarettes the waiter smokes and why. Draper’s employer, Sterling-Cooper, is still the agency charged with peddling Lucky Strike cigarettes.(They later lose the account to the real agency that handled Luckies.)

Another episode features the advertising executives stumbling upon the knowledge that Admiral Televisions sell particularly well among blacks. Pete Campbell, a rising star in the agency, tries to engage an elevator operator, Hollis, in a discussion about the RCA television he purchased. Campbell asks Hollis why he purchased the brand, but gets nowhere. Hollis explains that “we’ve got bigger problems to worry about than TV.” Viewers know what those “bigger problems” are.

One character courts a black girl, but his colleagues think he does so only to prove how interesting and smugly liberal he is. The couple eventually squabbles over his reluctance to join her on a trip with the Freedom Riders to the benighted South. Later in the series, a British character, who appears headed for a divorce, dates a black girl who works at the Playboy Club. His irascible, old-fashioned father literally cracks him in the noggin with a cane and orders the errant son back to his family.

Another Kinsley gaffe: A black thug robs Roger Sterling, a partner in the firm, and his love interest, at gunpoint.

No search for the great white defendant there. And it serves as a reminder: All stereotypes are true.

Also missing from the program, besides black faces, are long sermons about Civil Rights. The “movement” simmers in the background, while the white characters, oblivious to it all, go about their daily routine. In a sense, that too depicts the reality that many white Americans did not anticipate the coming explosion.

When a young and obviously Jewish leftist, aptly named “Abe,” tries to persuade another main character, disaffected Catholic Peggy Olson, that she must support civil rights for blacks, she is unmoved. “Most of the things that Negroes can’t do, I can’t do, and no one seems to care,” she says. Well, another Jewish leftist, the original Ugly Betty, took care of that.

One must wonder, by the way, how any sane person can look at the program’s sexually liberated women, contemplate what has happened since then, and think the sexual revolution was a good thing.

Anyhow, The Root is unhappy about Peggy’s attitude, observing that while Mad Men may be, as feminist historian Susan Coontz claimed in the Washington, “TV’s most feminist show,” it doesn’t do much for blacks: “Mad Men is all about progressive gender politics—as long as it comes wrapped in white skin.” [Mad at ‘Mad Men’, By: Salamishah Tillet, October 17, 2010] ….

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