I decided to try out a little program on Netflix called Mad Men. Perhaps you may have heard of it? Just kidding, of course, it seems that I am the only person on the entire planet that had not until this past week. I have to say, while this will not be a review of the show itself (which I think is a must-see, for the record), that it was one of those things that you sit down watch thinking you will just see a few and then find yourself completely immersed in, not only the intricate and well-written story line, but an entirely different period in history. Watching Mad Men has been like stepping into a time machine with the dial set to the early 1960’s.
All of the knowledge from history classes, the reading of classic literature, and watching Nick at Night (only me?) could not prepare me for watching this period drama and having that window into a time that people have long touted as “the good ol’ days” opened in such a candid fashion.
The good ol’ days, you say? And, may I reply, for whom?
The age of innocence, the age of purity…again, who is perpetuating this madness? Mad Men as been mostly acclaimed for it’s historical accuracy. I can truly see where that is a fact. But, without all of the cinematic sugarcoating that was a trademark of the time, it is blindingly apparent that it was not all perfectly coiffed housewives and dinner on the table at 5:30 sharp. That need to make a pretense that all is well and perfect in life and in film is exactly why I do not believe that the television programs and movies actually made in the 60’s do not seem to do it the honest justice that it deserves. The shows that I grew up watching, the My Three Sons and Leave it to Beavers, painted an extraordinarily different picture than the one that I have witnessed in the last week glued to the television. And while I am not saying that every piece of Mad Men is unwavering truth…I believe it does take on the some of the more controversial topics of the period– topics that make me cringe and wonder how people can look back on the 60’s with such open nostalgia when the flaws were so vast.
While it was a certainly a different time in our country -with it’s simplicity without the ailments of technology or the fears that are more common in our current day and age- I would far from say that these were the glory days of our society as a whole. In fact, from now on, if I hear someone say that, I will most certainly think they must be out of their ever-loving minds.
These are just a few of the reasons that belief that the “simpler” time was where our world was at it’s “pinnacle of perfection” makes you a total a-hole in my book:
Sexism was as common as a dapper London fog trench coat and a Fedora:
This may (or may not) come as a shock to you…but I do not have a feminist bone in my body. Before you yield the pitchforks, ladies, it is because I do not need to be. I have been offered the same opportunities, equal or higher pay than my male counterparts, and I am the person that actually taught sexual harassment seminars as a precautionary measure for a corporation as opposed to someone that has been a victim to harassment.
I am a strong woman, a force to be reckoned with, and in my glory days of cutthroat motivation to succeed I was never passed over, looked over, or denied a raise or promotion based on the position that I take when I pee. But do you know why? Because it is the 2000’s and that business is illegal, immoral, and I could sue the pants off of anyone that tried. If this was not the case -say, like the 1960’s- I would not be a stay-at-home mom by choice, I would be one because it was what was expected of me. And, if I did choose to work, I would be answering phones while getting my rear grabbed by superiors and I could not say a word for fear of losing my minimally paying job that I was lucky enough to have when what people really thought I should be doing was snagging a man and pumping out babies at home where I belonged.
It was a “man’s world”. Thinking that that was the “golden age” of our society means that you are a sexist prick. So, shut your mouth and go home and stare at your frozen dinner quietly and think of how you probably would have a wife if you were not such a neanderthal and respected women more.
Racism was not even a term yet. White people believed that they were superior to minorities just like they believed the sky was blue.
There are people now that are still considered “racists”– though this is not a new problem. It has been passed down from generation to generation like fine china or a piece of antique jewelry. While today, having those opinions shows a true lack of personal character, in the 1960’s it was something that just was. As much as women were not respected, minorities were openly disrespected. The 60’s were a time of extreme measures taken against African-American people that attempted to stand up for themselves, to protest the injustices that they were faced with, and for having what was then considered the “audacity” to believe that they deserved the same human rights as their white counterparts.
So, if you are on your porch swing telling people how much you miss the “good ol’ days” when black people were not allowed to share a bathroom with you…I hope one of those “border jumpers that is sneaking into this country and taking all of the jobs” accidentally plows into your house after a car brake malfunction and sends that swing straight up into a tree. Serves you right, bigot.
The nuclear family that people claim is destroyed now was nothing short of a joke then.
I love to hear people talk about the sanctity of marriage and the current divorce rate. One, they are hardly ever correct (that percentage is not a hard and fast number and tends to change greatly when age and economic factors come into play) and two, the increase in that rate has certainly gone up but I think some of that is for the healthiest of reasons.
In the 60’s people just did not divorce on a whim. Or, a lot of times, when they were being cheated on, abused, ignored, or any other reason, for that matter. For some, it was because women did not have the skills to support their families (and even if they did have the skills they were guaranteed to make a fraction of what a man would thus making it even harder to support a family) to and others, a strong belief that people “just did not do that”. Females that were divorced were seen as “damaged” by the men and judged harshly by the women.
Yay. I want to go back to a time where being unhappy in a marriage is better than being alone. No. Thank. You. Very. Much.
Does it even need to be mentioned that the idea of Gay Rights was barely a twinkle in an activist’s eyes at that time? When the way that people were born was still considered “sexual perversion” and they were forced to live false lives just to fit into a society that openly hated them?
Yes, if I hear about how “family values” were so much better in the “good ol’ days” one more time I may just hope that your grown children’s grown children get divorced from their wives to marry men and open an interior decorating studio with your family name on the door for all to see. I hope it upsets you so much that you can never show your face at the bingo hall ever again. N-37, indeed, my friend.
I get it. In a weird way, I do. There were no cell phones, no video games, family time was board games and charades, and people could go to bed with their doors unlocked. But, the truth is, it was also a time of intolerance and outright ignorance. With the evil time-consuming invention of the internet has also brought knowledge to the masses. We are more informed, more aware, and able to stand up and fight for the injustices that still plague us without fear of repercussion. There are no second-class citizens anymore (and getting closer every day to a country where you can marry whomever you love wherever you like). We have choices now, not just expectations.
I would never trade that for all of the fancy nylons and ice cream socials in the world.
Okay, maybe we could bring just this one back…
I'm just living minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day.