Home' Scoop : Scoop 50 Summer 2009 Contents the best period in men's fashion ever and the spec-
tacular curves o f Christina Hendricks as Joan.
Thankfully, Mad Men is catching on. If the US
experience is anything to go by, the third season
here will double in viewer size from season two,
which doubled from season one.
The reason for this has been magazines such as
Scoop. The show's real revolution has been at the
pointed end of cultural dissemination. Interna-
tionally and locally, glossy magazines have revelled
in the incandescent glamour of the show.
High-end men's mags like Esquire, GQ and, in
Australia, Men's Style have littered issues over the
past two years with shoots inspired by the slim-fit,
straight tie, perfectly barbered aesthetic of the early
1960s, and heralded the show's stars and creators
as defining yet another rebirth of cool.
In fashion, the look has been complemented
on runways for several collections, touched on by
Gucci, Armani, Burberry, Hugo Boss and Ralph
Lauren as well as embraced by department store
mainstays like Ben Sherman.
Eventually it will dilute through to the Kmart
crowd but you can already see the style-Alphas
in business districts wearing close tailoring and
rocking a pocket square. So, with the mainstream
reluctant to bite, it also begs the question, why is it
so popular the snootier end?
The first thought was nostalgia.
This was the age where the concept of cool went
mainstream. By 1960, reefer-blowin' Jazzmen had
been producing bebop and perfecting cool as a way
of being for the better part of two decades, but the
idea of an upwardly mobile white man as steel-
eyed salamander squinting through the smoke
(with saxophone soundtrack) reached its peak
just before the 60s revolution made tie-dye and
flares (gack!) cool. The boomers love it because it
reminds them of their childhood (or an imagined
version of it) while the Xers love it because they
can play post-modern games of "Spot the historical
But sentiment only goes so far.
The world of Mad Men is Neanderthal by
today's standards, prompting a can't-look-away
fascination. Sexism and racism are so casual in
the show as to be simply part of the furniture. In
one episode, an office party watching the Nixon-
Kennedy election descends into an adultery-fest.
Fuelled on bourbon and creme de menthe, one
of the young execs chases a secretary, tackles her,
lifts up her skirt to spy her knickers and trium-
phantly hollers to the laughing onlookers "Who
A stiff drink before an 11am meeting is par for
the course. Everyone smokes relentlessly. Most
of the men conduct affairs with only rarely a
moment's pause. Most of the women endure the
infidelities without mentioning it.
All of this means that, as well as being an eerie
drama, Mad Men sheds another light on "old-
fashioned values". We get to sneer at the hypocrisy
and wonder, "What value these values?"
But there's the twist. Judging the outrageous-
ness reeks of hypocrisy. I love all that stuff.
Parts of Mad Men appeal savagely to the un-
reconstructed male in the same way Rambo does.
This was the last time in the Western world where
male-as-dominant-species was an unquestioned
fact. Even the most middle class of us were,
momentarily, undisputed kings of the universe.
We could mainline our lizard brains 24-7,
knocking off a stiff whisky in the morning, fol-
lowed by a boozy lunch, then taking the afternoon
off work to enjoy bleary, draining sex with the
mistress, before the train trip home to the adoring
wife and kids.
Categorically immoral, but all within the grey
area of social acceptability at the time. To the
rogue chromosome buried in the DNA of all men
that sounds kind of cool. Anyone who says other-
wise is a liar.
As season two's closer demonstrated earlier in
the year, for Don Draper it had become exhaust-
ing, physically and spiritually. And the cosmos
knows I don't have the energy or funds for that
kind of manic philandering.
More accurately, I probably don't have the
cojones for it either.
Nor would my missus put up with it for a
moment. That I respect (and fear) that means that
even unreconstructed specimens are finding some
structure. In words soon to be uttered in Mad
Men: the times, they have a-changed. sm
Mad Men series three screens on Movie Extra in
February 2010. Series one and two are out on DVD
and Blu-Ray. Daniel Murphy is deputy editor for FHM.
"Most of the men conduct a airs with only a moment's pause.
Most of the women endure infidelities without mentioning it."
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