Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Rewatching Mad Men (cont.)

I believe this scene is key to understanding why Campbell shows up at Peggy's apartment that night. Here's the pattern. First, Draper thwarts Campbell's desire to engage in a sort of corporate-ladder-climbing intercourse. Clearly, given the way the scene is shot, and given the bile of Campbell's "f*ck you" at the end, sex is a weapon for Campbell. Later, when the other Sterling Cooper lads take him out for his stag party, Campbell brazenly puts the moves on one of the gals who joins the lads at the strip club. Here again he confuses force for flattery, and again he's rejected and humiliated, only this time in front of his peers.

Campbell mixes desire and power to the point that they're indistinguishable. Being humiliated by Draper in the afternoon, and in front of his peers at the strip club, forces his hand. He goes to Peggy's apartment not -- or not strictly -- because he wants some wanton nookie before he gets hitched, but to get something that Draper has (or so he thinks). Sleeping with Draper's secretary is Campbell's way of getting revenge. Again, sex to him is only a weapon. This is, in part, why Peggy's speech at the end of the second season -- the one that left me and probably you breathless -- is so powerful: what she tells Campbell shocks him; he's surprised; but it's not about the baby. It's about what she says and how she says it and the fact that she is a woman. And it's about Campbell's idea of who he is.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Shots from "Syndromes and a Century"

I watched "Syndromes and a Century" again last night after seeing it about a year ago. Something about it is so fresh and vibrant, even after multiple viewings.

Here are two powerful shots -- the first is from the rural vignette, the second from the urban one -- posted just because I think they're beautiful.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Rewatching Mad Men

It may be cheap sport, playing spot the symbols of sex and power in an episode of "Mad Men," but rewatching the first episode, it's too obvious to pass up. It's about at the 24-minute mark, right after the distasterous meeting with Rachel Menken.

Campbell: I'm not going to pretend I don't want your job, but you were right, I'm not great with people, and you are, I mean, not counting that meeting we were just in, so I'm kinda counting on you to help me out.... There's plenty of room at the top.

Draper: Look, I'm sorry I was so hard on you before. It's just this damn tobacco thing.

Campbell: You'll think of something. [Emboldened.] A man like you I'd follow into combat blindfolded, and I wouldn't be the first. Am I right buddy? [Presents hand to shake.]

Draper: Let's take it a little slower, I don't want to wake up pregnant. [Walks away.]

Campbell: [Under his breath.] F*** you.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and sometimes the outstretched hand of your weasel of an underling is just a phallic symbol appearing on your TV screen.

Oh, and would it be too much to note that the previous scene features Peggy Olsen being humiliated by the gynecologist when she goes to him to get oral contraceptives? I think not.

Independent Study Reading List, Spring 2010