Friday, January 15, 2010

Matthew Weiner and Mad Men

I caught a talk by Matthew Weiner last night at Casa Manana. This was sponsored by the AdClub of Fort Worth. Weiner discussed himself, creativity and his AMC hit show Mad Men. Interesting stuff -- Pegasus News has a good recap if you're interested.

One thing I was struck by (and I guess I shouldn't have been) was how completely self-absorbed most of the people were who the asked questions during the Q & A session. At one point, Weiner interrupted one particularly long-winded speaker and said, "Are you pitching me?" Afterwards it struck me -- oh yeah, these people are all in advertising.

I spent the first 10 years of my adult worklife in advertising, for which I'm undoubtedly going to hell. Mad Men pretty much captures the vibe I experienced, even 15 years after the show is set: the drinking, the smoking, the sexism, the ambition and absurdity. I was hooked after the opening credits.

Season 3 concluded November 8, 2009. Weiner said his team is about to embark on creating Season 4. One of the fascinating things about the series is how it weaves world events into the background of the narrative. Since Season 3 ended right before Christmas of 1963, it's reasonable to expect the next season to be set in the following year. Here's a quick list of some of the events of 1964; I'm guessing at least some of them will be touched on.

  • Capital Records releases "Meet the Beatles;" in February the quartet fly into JFK International and later appear on Ed Sullivan. Beatlemania is added to the vocabulary.
  • Ford Motors introduces the Mustang
  • NASA launches Gemini 1
  • The Rolling Stones release their first album, "The Rolling Stones."
  • The 1964 New York World's Fair opens
  • Lyndon Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law
  • Opposition begins to grow agains the expanding war in Vietnam
  • Disney's "Mary Poppins"premieres in Los Angeles
  • Barry Goldwater, wins the Republican Nomination and runs for president against Lyndon Johnson. Johnson's campaign runs "The Daisy" commercial, which juxtaposes a child counting daisy petals against a missile countdown. The final image is of a mushroom cloud. The ad ran only once, but is credited with contributing to the Johnson landslide victory over Goldwater.
  • "Goldfinger," one of the most successful James Bond film ever made, premieres. Earlier that year, "From Russia with Love" opened.
  • The Warren Commission concludes Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in assassinating JFK.
  • Comedian Lenny Bruce is sentenced to 6 months in prison on obscenity charge.
Lots to choose from; should be an exciting season!


TarrantLibertyGuy said...

Recently, a common friend (guess!) and I were at a political gathering that had a convocation or prayer-ish thing that went like this:

"Please bow your heads for the prayer. Dear God, Creator of the Universe and the most awesome economic system in the world, the capitalist system. We thank you God, for inventing this system that provides the heterosexual married families a standard of living that, elsewhere, in the God-forsaken world of socialism, may seem unreachable.

We're so thankful that we know of capitalism and that we can work together, with Your guidance, to ensure that socialism, a redistributive system of misplaced philanthropy - but not of YOU - does not progress. We pray, oh Heavenly Father, that you will help us to defeat the socialist system, which, created in 1848 by godless heathens, Karl Marx and Fredrich Engels when they penned their tome, "The Communist Manifesto".

It went on and on with drivel and poorly thought out history lessons about ECONOMICS that you could clearly hear our common friend's and my teeth grinding with accompanying sighs and closed eye-rolling. This was about a four minute prayer.

Next to the Q&A question asker, the most self-serving public speaker is frequently the 'opening prayer pray-er'.

By the way, I would've liked to have gone to the Mad Men thing. That's pretty much my favorite show on now. My only problem is that it's so well made it take forever between seasons - which are relatively short. Damn their quality!!

Dr Ralph said...

TLG - so glad you stopped by!

Weiner ended his remarks with a clip from the last episode of Season 1: "The Wheel" in which Don Draper pitches for Kodak's new slide projector, which Kodak proposes naming "the Wheel."

The set up, if you've forgotten, is Don's marriage is once again in near shambles (recap of the episode can be seen at AMC). It's one of the best written scenes I've seen on a show. Simple and moving.

See the clip on YouTube. I defy you to watch without getting choked up.

Glad to know you're a fan of the show as well.

Dr Ralph said...

Whoops -- screwed up! Here's a link to the clip on YouTube.