The shock of the old - Page 2

Mad Men attracts and repels with its blasts from the "past"

The ugly extension of its dedication to retro cool, Mad Men's edge authentically emerges from the shock of the old, yesteryear's culture colliding headlong with current values. Rather than sugar-coating the past à la Happy Days — or denuding and repurposing a throwback look simply for effect — creator-writer Matthew Weiner highlights the offhand, everyday brutality of pre-civil rights, pre-women's lib American life, creating a subtle horror show that lightly dances with both seduction and repulsion. You're constantly recoiling with fascination at the complacency and assumptions cast by these maddeningly entitled men creating advertising dreams in steel towers. There's little of the overt action present in the last series Weiner wrote for, The Sopranos. Instead, the violence comes when our values brush up against those of the recent past. Regardless of what some conservatives would like, things have changed. And as the ad chauvinists of Mad Men huddle to discuss their plans for the Nixon campaign of 1960 — they picked a real winner there — they likely would never have imagined that they would be effectively sidelined as a woman and a black man would be duking it out for the Democratic presidential nomination less than 50 years later. (Kimberly Chun)

Also from this author

  • Women with movie cameras

    Cheers to CAAMFest's crop of female Asian American film directors

  • Spiking the box office

    THE YEAR IN FILM: Looking back at a triumphant year for African American films

  • Not from around here

    French synth-pop giants Phoenix and Daft Punk tap into the alien within