Monday, July 8, 2013

The Left Conservatism of Mad Men

I don't watch the show (or any TV), but might, if I had the time, especially after reading this surprising article at the "hard left" CounterPunch by one Stewart J. Lawrence — How “Mad Men” Brought Back the Paterfamilias.

The article, subtitles "Father Knows Something," explains that the show "has managed to have it both ways with two different kinds of audiences: on the one hand, those who long nostalgically for the American glory days of the 1960s, when gender roles were clearer, simpler, and more circumscribed, especially for women, and on the other hand, viewers who interpret the show as testimony to the collapse of corporate patriarchy and the dawning of the modern feminist era." That's no small accomplishment.

Te author explains that the shows director "seems intent on shifting the show’s gender drama away from the workplace towards the family and allowing his charming but beleaguered patriarchs to shine proudly once again — but this time as parental role models." Mr. Stewart continues, "It turns out that these ego-driven men have real emotional needs, and rather than heartlessly abandon their families when they need them most, are willing to step up to the challenge — and lead." His conclusion:
    If that sounds like a striking departure from so many contemporary television dramas, that’s because it is. In the family world of the 1960s, a mere 5% of children were born outside of a setting that included a father and mother living at home. By 1980 it was 18 percent, and by 2000 it had risen to 33 percent. Today, the number is 41 percent. The rise of the single Mom is part of the social landscape of our times, and men, it seems, are so far out of the family picture that writers like Maureen Dowd can write a book entitled, “Are Men Even Necessary?” and no one even bats an eyelash. Father’s Day, once a proud counterpart to Mother’s Day, is not even considered a serious marketing opportunity any more. And yet the culture, amid all the celebration of the “Super Mom,” is still starved for a stronger male presence, just as the nation’s children are.
Christopher Lasch, the Pittsford, New York, resident quoted in this blog's header, might have a lot to say about this show.

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