MrGordon commented on The very white poetry of 'Mad Men'I'm a black professional and I'm a fan of Mad Men. I've seen every episode. But it is indeed a white, white show. Whenever I give some analysis as to why a character did what they did, I ask myself, "What would I do in that situation?" Well, I would never be in that situation because I'm black. And my dad, who was a young man in the 60s would have never been in that situation because he's black. The show is very much about the upper-class urban white experience during a very socially and politically volatile time in America. I can't approach the show as if it's "blank." It is whiteness that gives these characters full range to be completely engrossed in something as superficial and douch-baggish as selling the American Dream in the form of products...beans, Jaguars, pantyhose...whatever. But I think a part of the show (and maybe I made this up to appease my own guilt about enjoying show) is a criticism of the banality of whiteness and how it can completely protect already privileged people from very serious and complicated issues that were raging at that time. Black people couldn't get away from that and women, for the most part couldn't either. I find that point of tragedy in all the characters, particularly the men. Whiteness is their flaw. Race has been dealt with here and there, but it was treated more like a small annoyance than anything. They had that equal opportunity ad as a joke, then had to "hire one of them" just to shut the people up and get back to selling stuff. The issue of sexism isn't handled that much more delicately either. Joan fucked her way into a partnership, because she had to, even though she's one of the smartest people in the office and Peggy only had a voice when a man was next to her, even though, the audience knows that she is extremely talented. The women are given the space to deal with the sexism of the 60s but the race stuff, Mad Men isn't touching that. Because to put a black character on the show as a professional equal, and to handle it authentically, would be to show the hazing, the inequality, the brute ugly force of race relations in America. Mad Men isn't build for that and the audience doesn't want to feel all that white guilt bubbling up. So yeah, its pretty damn white.
Posted on June 12th, 2012 4:32pm