April 13, 2010

Finale: NEM DAM: The New redruM


Everyone got it backwards. It wasn't really about men at all. It was about women.

By Don Draper

The next several months will give all of us time to consider a number of things. That certainly goes for me. I've been through a lot over these last 13 episodes. However, I think my wife, Betty, has been through a heck of a lot more. I feel for her and would like to take this opportunity right now to let her know how much she means to me. "I love you, honey."


When Weinstein came to me with the script, I was a warm and sensitive guy of the '90's. I was politically correct. I was courteous. I didn't smoke and almost never ever drank, except of course for when I was alone. In preparing for this role, I had to let my gym membership lapse. There were no more whey shakes, artificial tans, spinning and various pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, skin creams etc...

Everything I had been taking was now a no-no. Needless to say, I had to change who I was in order to find out who I really am. Matthew should get all the credit though. After all, it took a wise guy to deceive everyone about "NEM DAM" this past season (that's what we call it). Everyone got it backwards. It wasn't really about men at all. It was about women.

I'll leave you with this. Here are two people's exchanges I found on Facebook who I think really had insights into the larger meaning about the MAD MEN era and the production of the show:


From Paul @ Facebook

For me, it's one word... erotic chemistry. The pronounced sexual divide between the genders generates an electric field that crackles in the gap. The masculine and feminine poles are humming strongly in this show, within the characters themselves as well as between each other.

Draper is the self-created uber-male, whose vulnerable past has been all but smothered by layers of cool detachment. He is the ultimate cold coquette, drawing women passionately into his orbit and then challenging them with the icy blast of his cynicism. His irresistible form hides a chewy center.


From Denise @ Facebook:

I agree and would add that for me the show is an incredibly accurate portrayal of a time and place.

I've had debate with female friends who are unglued by the "in-your-face" sexism. Some feel the show is blatantly misogynistic. I don't hold the same view. I believe it captures a piece of our past. A time when most women were raised to believe that a goal in life was to be beautiful for your man, to find a man and marry. College, a job... all avenues to take you closer to that ultimate goal. And for many women there was nothing beautiful about that. Betty's character development shows the inner struggle and desperation that had to be brutal for some. I personally loved her scene with the BB gun. It was powerful... and real.


From Paul @ Facebook:

Denise, it's interesting to hear a perspective from a female who is familiar with the era. Today I say: "vive la difference" although I was educated as a social constructionist according to the P.C. canon.

I like this show because it reflects a very un-PC reality--that women generally prefer alpha males. Not guys who act macho but those who know how to lead and who project ease with their own values and a sense of integrity and calm in a crisis. In my experience, women will consistently choose such a male over another who offers them more freedom to make decisions.

Note: In case you're curious, I'm neither alpha nor beta... what's after beta? Theta? Yeah that's me. :)

I think this show could be a significant factor in helping to integrate the post-war erotic dilemma that women find themselves in: how to reconcile a powerful erotic drive towards strong males with an inner desire to develop their own "masculine" drives to develop careers and public achievement.


From Denise @ Facebook:

I'm a big fan of the show. I love how the characters have developed with each new episode. And I'm hooked by the storyline. But my interest goes beyond this.

In some of the episodes, the writers give us a glimpse into the strategies of some well-known brands. Actually, the insight that drove strategy. Lucky Strike, for example. One of my favorite scenes is when Draper asks his waiter why he smokes a particular brand of cigarettes? Draper pushes the envelope by ignoring the reams of traditional research (I think he actually threw it in the trash can) and instead he chooses - in the field - to just ask some simple questions. Later in the conference room with his client... you see how the strategy may have actually unfolded. Whether it's true or not, it does illustrate some of the creative process. And it's fun to watch.

I'm also fascinated by AMC's ad trivia in front of commercial pods. The trivia not only supports the show's content, it adds value for advertisers. Many of the facts relate directly to the spots that are airing, giving them some context. This must have an effect on viewership of the spots. I find myself watching.. even though I've DVR'd the show and can FF. I can't think of any other program/network that's used this technique. Maybe someone else has? Maybe someone out there is purchasing media for the show and can speak to the approach the network is taking with advertisers?


From Paul @ Facebook:

I also really enjoyed the scene with the waiter, because I thought it showed how open-ended questions (OEQs) are such a fantastic tool for obtaining information beyond a simple logical response.

An OEQ, followed by a long wait without any "help" for the respondent (a vacuum) leverages awkwardness and forces the respondent to invest beyond a yes-no, multiple choice answer.

When responding to an OEQ, it is very difficult for a respondent to dissemble in the usual ways, because:

1. Since their identity is on the line, and their preferences are being sincerely requested, they'll enjoy talking about themselves if given the chance.

2. If vacuumed well (don't "bail" them out) they'll tend to talk more and give off more information in body language, tonality, facial expression. etc.

In his position of authority seated in the chair, and the waiter standing, Draper first establishes rapport and then applies pressure in the form of a vacuum from a position of authority.


See you all next season. In the meantime call me, let's have lunch! - DD

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