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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Growing older with grace, wisdom and Mad Men

(Please note if you are not a fan or viewer of Man Men this blog may confuse you. To savor it best, I recommend you watch Season 4 Episode 8 The Summer Man -- before going any further. Unable to do that, scroll to the end of the blog for a mini-recap.)

Sometimes the worlds of fantasy and reality collide in my brain and meet in my blog as a special gift for me. This is one of those times and I want to make sure that I get it right. Follow along and let me know.

Nothing is subtle about Joan
This past Sunday evening I was glued to my television, watching along with many of you, the latest installment of Mad Men.  I found it both profoundly upsetting and insightful as it demonstrated the disempowerment of office manager and queen of the ample bosom Joan, by the earnest and naively well-intentioned Peggy.  

Joan, caught up in her own misguided I-as-victim psychology uses what she believes is her greatest power as sexualized woman to thwart the always-inappropriate sexual harassment by free-lancer Joey. For those of you offended because you find what Joey said unrealistic, I say to you, you have never been on the receiving end of it in Corporate America, especially before Anita Hill made pubic hair so very public.

Unfortunately Joan intends to resolve the matter by using her femme fatale powers on a client, most brilliantly the Sugarberry Man from Ham(m), who would sweep away the problem as her knight in shining armor---the very fantasy that keeps her trapped as victim. Oh, the bitter irony!
Joan works her co-workers

Yet, I can sympathize with Joan, as angry as she made me.  She, like many women who have no role models, fall back on what have been their strengths (the office sexpot) rather than risk the untested.  She chooses not to tell Don  was what really going on with Joey, instead using some fuzzy and vague  “I’ve been hearing complaints” nonsense in part because she knows she does use her sexuality as part of her power.

The tragic scene in the elevator between Joan and Peggy was fantastic. Peggy cannot possibly understand how what she did was effectively disempower Joan.  Joan cannot possibly understand how Peggy is the newly emancipated female on the horizon and she is about to become antiquated caricature.

Ernest Peggy

When Joan later bursts into tears when her husband talks about her friends at work, it’s hard to feel sorry for her. How we mere mortals complicate our own lives and are reflected back at us in the wonderfully complex characters in Mad Men.

In the real world on that very same day Ines Sainz, a female sportscaster from Mexico, was reported to have complained about being sexually harassed in the Jets Locker room. I watched the interviews on the "News" as she dripped out of her Victoria’s Secret pushup bra, feigning ignorance about her style of dress. As the news reported it, the players made off-color jokes and innuendoes as she tried to conduct an interview. She has apparently been covering football, albeit in Mexico, for nine years and every photograph I have seen of her is provocative. So I seriously ask you, why don’t I ever see any men in women’s locker rooms?

Funny Sofia 
I watched several of these interviews with Ines and I felt like I was looking at an episode of Modern Family with the hysterically funny Sofia Vergara -- a bombshell Columbian actress who understands how to make sexy funny.

Sofia was recently quoted in the new issue of Self Magazine,

"I wanted surgery, I told my mom, 'As soon as I'm older, please take these boobs away.' She said, 'Sofia, shut up. When you're 18, it will be different.' 'I was like, 'Why would I want these huge tits?' I'm a 34 DD. It's hard to dress. No matter what I wear, I look like a stripper."

Ines on the field
So when I watch Ines speaking in her broken English  “ I hab nine years doing dis and I never have any trouble like dis” -- I admit it, I start to laugh. She sounds just like Sofia's character on the show.

So listen Ines, sex sells and you’re selling it. If that’s how you choose to package yourself, be prepared for the consequences and stop walking into rooms with naked men. Go for your 15 minutes, the Playboy spread, whatever frivolities come your way. Tune into Modern Family and check out Sofia’s great impression of you.  You, unlike Joan, have no excuses and plenty of role models to choose from.

Allow me to conclude that it all balanced out rather nicely in my Mad Men world. Those scenes with the hirsute Don in the pool at the infamous New York Athletic Club were delicious (except for the coughing at the end of one lap) and his heroic and grownup treatment of Peggy is almost enough to redeem him in my eyes. That’s where Man Men keeps it balanced, a sex symbol for everyone, just the way I like my fantasy life.

As Don Draper has said, "People tell you who they are, but we ignore it because we want them to be who we want them to be."

1 comment:

  1. ines was the ms universe entrant from mexico, so no doubt that ridiculous rack isn't even hers. and who cares anyway what a couple of guys say behind or in front of your back? what? she doesn't know how to put them in their place except to tattle on them? pleh..let me at them.