Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mad Men

Betty and I are almost done watching the first season of Mad Men.

Betty wanted to watch it because it's the first basic cable series to win the Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series. But I was originally attracted to the series because I thought it would be about angry males beating each other up.

"A syndicated drama on AMC about brutal violence amongst our society's psychologically imbalanced population," I thought. "Just like Ultimate Fighting Championship, only on AMC!"

Instead, the series is about an ad executive in the 1960's, which is actually very fascinating because it shows you what life was like back in the 60's. For instance, back then there was no air conditioner, people - including pregnant women - smoked and drank all the time, women and African-Americans (who were not called African-Americans at the time) didn't really have good jobs or any jobs at all, and worst of all, there was no Internet.

No Internet?! But how did they play World of Warcraft or download porn without the Internet?!?

Somehow people survived.

The things we take for granted today, like "smoking is bad for you", were not known back then. Some of the safety rules that we all take for granted weren't known back then either. In one episode a little girl runs around with a plastic dry-cleaning bag over her head, and instead of fretting over the girl possibly suffocating, the mom wants to know if her dry cleaning has been wrinkled.

Every episode of Mad Men includes at least one scene of what would now be considered sexual harassment. Watching these scenes make me cringe, because I can just imagine a company getting the crap sued out of it for that type of behavour.

So in many ways Man Men is so interesting because it shows you how far we've come as a society: we're better at informing the public about dangerous activities or behaviors, we're better at integrating different sexes and races into the workplace, etc.

But in other ways, it shows you how much further we have to go. For instance, women still do not get paid the same wage as a man for most jobs. African-Americans still do not get the same opportunities for school or jobs.

Fifty years from now, when people are directly connected to the web via wireless modems implanted directly into their bodies, they'll be able to download TV shows about how people in the 2000's didn't know that global warming was real or how people today didn't stop all the elephants from being killed off, and those people will think, "But it's so obvious now, why didn't they know back then?"

And then those people will launch into a wireless, mobile game of World of Warcraft, and wonder how the neanderthals of the early 21st century ever played the game while sitting in one place for hours on end.

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