Sunday, August 16, 2009
(who quoted Spielberg on the popularity of dinosaurs)
They’re big, they’re mean, and they’re dead.
Mad Men is a Western. Only unlike the noble Indians in John Ford's Cheyenne Autumn they don't have Richard Widmark to explain things to the audience.
Clint Eastwood made two movies about Iwo Jima.
The audience gets to choose which side they identify with.
Hollywood could put out a remake of High Noon from the viewpoint of the crazy killer Frank Miller.
At one time Hollywood was part of a culture self confident enough to treat fairly with the "other" while still respecting the community that nurtured them. Think of The Bridge on the River Kwai where Sessue Hayakawa gives a fine three dimensional portrait of Colonel Saito without expecting the audience to cheer him or the Japanese Army on.
Women did not always make up abusive fantasy figures. Dorothy L. Sayers created Lord Peter Wimsey, and fell in love with him.
Perhaps she was the exception and the pattern was set by Mary Shelley in Frankenstien.
What do women want?
A Prehistoric Man.
Ann Miller works for me, makes me want to beat my chest.
It seems to me that there is no popular equivalent for young men of Mad Men/Sex in the City or post modern bodice rippers for women that, reducing men to the role of casual sperm donors, glorify hedonism and bastardy. Pulp for men in the mass market tends to not so much denigrate women as ignore them. The overt reduction of women to objects is largely confined to the niche markets (large as they might be) of pornography and rap.
Okay, I’ll bite. In what sense is it a Western?
First as I have made clear I do not receive cable television and have only seen an episode or two of Mad Men.
As is well known (there is a tool of a phrase from the Old Left) there are only a handful of basic plots. For example My Fair Lady and Frankenstein are really the same story. King Kong is the same story as Beauty and the Beast. What makes for a Western? To me it needs a wilderness, a line between law abiding society and a savage zone, with a protagonist who can cross the line; bringing knowledge from one place into another but never completely at ease in either. If the story is simply about a primitive in their own place then it may be an interesting anthropological study (like Nanook of the North) but it is not a Western. The struggle between Law and the Wild can be set in many times and places, America, Japan (they instantly saw the connection), or Sumeria (think about Gilgamesh) or the future in Planet of the Apes. However John Wayne was spectacularly wrong about a film about Genghis Khan working as a Western. The story can work in reverse, with the primitives visiting civilization and they or those they encounter succeeding by adapting outside techniques to the new location. That was the idea behind Crocodile Dundee. The attempt to bring the Insurance Cave Men to television flopped but if done right it would have had the elements of the meeting between the ordered and the wild with growth happening. The idea of change happening because of the encounter is essential. As I said it cannot be a passive observation or travelogue. As I see it Mad Men is doing the same thing that Dundee did only here there are more primitives and they are home grown instead of imported. The women enjoy seeing them navigate through the corporate jungle and play with forks. What do they learn from us? What can we learn from them?
Aug 16, 2009 - 9:03 pm
If we are going to talk about sex then we should talk about the consequences. This is worth looking at.
Childrens Parties An Adults Survival Guide,
BTW, I provoked a dhimmi or agent on Roger Kimball’s PJM blog post on Yale to amusing hauteur. His response reads like Charlie Gibson talking down his nose.
Aug 16, 2009 - 9:16 pm
(BTW your new name has the air of Barsoom about it)
I am confident that Roger Kimball can handle any pretentious visitor from the Columbia Junior Faculty lounge or International and Public Affairs students taking a break from their 8th year of work on their dissertations. Still the thought of a delegation from the Belmont Club striding in there like the Ghostbusters cheers the heart.
Aug 16, 2009 - 10:01 pm
Jesus Saves but Moses Invests. We who believe in life can have a future in despite of those who believe in death. The demographics regarding the immigrant groups the left depend on are not the same as those of professional liberals with one designer baby. The Left thinks that they can support their indulgences with imported labor. They will find, as the Europeans are finding, that the new workers aren't going to be happy toiling down on the plantations for the liberal Masters. Some on the Left may think that their families will survive as a sort of American aristocracy, like the Kennedys, and some just truly don't give a damn about what happens after they die. Worse are some who get a thrill from creating a nightmare future for others to live in. They are capable of anything.
Jake Gittes: How much are you worth?
Noah Cross: I have no idea. How much do you want?
Jake Gittes: I just wanna know what you're worth. More than 10 million?
Noah Cross: Oh my, yes!
Jake Gittes: Why are you doing it? How much better can you eat? What could you buy that you can't already afford?
Noah Cross: The future, Mr. Gitts! The future. Now, where's the girl? I want the only daughter I've got left. As you found out, Evelyn was lost to me a long time ago.
Jake Gittes: Who do you blame for that? Her?
Noah Cross: I don't blame myself. You see, Mr. Gitts, most people never have to face the fact that at the right time and the right place, they're capable of ANYTHING.
Aug 18, 2009 - 8:06 am