Monday, October 12, 2009

7169: Mad Men Erases Ahead.

AMC series Mad Men continues the clumsy erasure of culture that Latoya Peterson noted earlier this year.

First, Don Draper and his daughter’s pretty young teacher were in his car listening to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the radio. The teacher was focused on the oratory—declaring she would read the speech to her students—while Draper obviously had completely different dreams on his mind.

Salvatore Romano rejected the advances of a gay client, and the client demanded that he be fired. Don complied with the client’s request, even sneering, “You people,” when Sal revealed details of the incident. After years of watching Peggy Olson take abuse from her coworkers, Sal becomes the first victim of sexual discrimination in the workplace. Don displays progressiveness with Blacks, yet presents blatant bias with an employee he promoted. Go figure.

Carla the housekeeper appeared throughout the installment. She busted Betty Draper with Henry, her new lover. Later, Betty and her catty girlfriends were discussing Civil Rights marches, with one woman clearly spewing racist perspectives—while Carla stood behind them.

Toward the end of the episode, Carla listened to MLK on the radio. Betty expressed confusion over Civil Rights and remarked, “Maybe it’s not supposed to happen right now.” After growing up with a Black housekeeper, hiring Carla and even having fantasies featuring Medgar Evers, why is Betty suddenly exhibiting cultural cluelessness and insensitivity?

In many respects, Mad Men is being true to Madison Avenue, revealing the root causes of the exclusivity that exists today. Specifically, Whites are so self-absorbed that all other cultures are annoying background noise and ultimately dismissed.

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