Friday, July 23, 2010

Jon Hamm vs 10 questions

There's an article up at with "Mad Men" actor Jon Hamm taking on 10 questions that appear to be from fans by looks of the various sources of the questions. Frankly I don't watch the show but I've heard people talk as if its a full on accurate retelling of what happened in 60s America. I doubt that but the show does get a lot of attention so why not take a stab at some of his answers.

Is Mad Men really about men or about women? —Ellen Speicher, COLUMBUS, OHIO
I'll give a lame answer: both. There are at least three phenomenal female characters on our show in Peggy, Joan and Betty. It's very much about how they are dealing with this world that these men nominally run. I don't think you can have a show about men that doesn't deal with women. But the overarching presences are the men.

First off foul on using lame. Two thankfully he does quantifies by saying "this world that these men nominally run". Yes most of the spots of power were held by men in this time but let's not fool ourselves into thinking that most men help spots of power.

Don can be a cad at times. What do you think are his redeeming qualities? —Sarah Fisher, SANTA MONICA, CALIF.
You have to understand that Don is an incredibly damaged human being, had a terrible childhood. What he has accomplished, he has accomplished through the strength of his own will and his own ambition. I think that's what resonates throughout the show. It's a constant striving to be better. He fails, and he makes bad decisions. He's not a superhero by any stretch of the imagination.

This one is interesting. In all the talk I've heard about this show you would think that Don Draper was Skeletor, Megatron, Serpentor, and Mum-Ra rolled into one with a dash of Voldemort, a side of King Koopa, and a glass of Lord Zedd. I wonder if the show actually does some examination of whether or not the damage done to him relates to the damage he does now or is it just week after week of "Don Draper is the devil." talk.

Do you think Don would be as popular if he had to pay for his crimes, so to speak? —Jessica Jones, SYDNEY
I think in many ways Don has had to pay for his crimes. Certainly not in the literal sense, but definitely karmically. His dishonesty with his family and with himself has come back to reap dividends, and not in a good way.

People like for villains to pay for their crimes. Makes them feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside and helps them go to sleep at night. But (and I'm not in the know on exactly what he's done mind you) chances are he has done some serious shit that would land him a nice long prison sentence if he were to literally pay for them. That would call for a pretty drastic change.

What qualities do you think men lack today that were present in those from the Mad Men era? —Octavio de la Torre, PALMDALE, CALIF.
There's a cordialness that men had when dealing with the opposite sex, even when they were being blatantly sexist. It's a weird conundrum. But that's been replaced with men treating women like absolute garbage and not even being polite about it, which is too bad.

Okay honestly this is the one that made me decide to post. Okay back in that time (just as there are now) there are types of cordialness at work here. You have the genuine cordialness that's simply a matter of being nice to everyone. This is the stuff we wish everyone had. You have the misguided cordialness that's a matter of men being socialized to think that they must a specific kind of nice to women. While not outwardly malicious it really isn't the same as genuine cordialness because it patronizing to women and and men and heaps a lot of unfair expectations on both. I think with proper guidance those who display this could be shown the way to express genuine cordialness. Then you have the truly evil type that is better called "cordialness". This is the malicious intent of feigning niceness in the thought that some sort of reward or favor will be granted by said woman (and are more than willing to take said reward/favor is things don't go their way). These are the ones you need to watch out. This is where your abusers and attackers lie.

Now depending on what type of cordialness we're talking here then I think its pretty obvious which one people would like to see more of, which one just needs to be corrected, and which one needs to simply be done away with.

Why the nuance you may ask? Because it would be foolish to think that every man alive who acts cordial can be placed in one of those three groups (and probably more if you think about it). I mean yeah it makes you feel all empowered and shit to presume the absolute worst or even absolute best faith in every man who are/were nice to women but its just not true.

What's your view on how the show has dealt with the racial and political issues of the '60s? —Leonard Colvin, NORFOLK, VA.
We've dealt with them in an honest way. I've read reviews that take us to task for not having more African Americans or dealing with gay issues or women's issues. And I think that criticism is fundamentally flawed because the show is not a travelogue through the '60s. It's about very specific people in a very specific place at a very specific time. That comes with warts and all.

Unfortunately I agree with him. Thing is women weren't where they are now back in the 60s (because if they were I think the women's movement would have shaped up pretty differently). Non-Whites were not in the same position we are now back then. If they were then at least the Civil Rights movement would have started off very differently. Gays were not as prominent then as they are now or else just like women and non-whites they're speaking up would have been differently. Not to say that this justifies a total shut out of those groups. I mean hell I'd like to see a show were men start speaking up as well but sadly such a thing would not have happened in a timed piece like "Mad Men".

You know I think I'll have to get around to watching this show some day but it will probably be a long while but I have so many other things to watch on my plate and I don't want to overload myself on tv.