Tuesday, 09 July 2013

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Mad Men: Who's "In Care Of" what now? In my first post on “In Care Of,” I discussed the importance of the logic of the “Oh Really” sequence to the episode; in the second, I not only proved that cowboy hats aren’t the new lasers, but also that Matthew Weiner is dedicated to creating pain by any means necessary, including undermining the importance of structural elements like the “Oh Really” sequence. In other words, my first two posts were about how Weiner creates tension via the visuals and sustains it by undermining the visuals that created it via the narrative. Most television shows — and most television writers — have a particular set of visual and narrative crutches they break out when they need to rouse their viewers. For example, Joss Whedon favors hackneyed speeches undermined by immediate circumstances: BUFFY: No, it doesn’t stop! It never stops! Do you — do you think I chose to be like this? You have any idea how lonely it is? How dangerous? I would love to be upstairs, watching TV or gossiping about boys or — God, even studying! But I have to save the world. Again. Or: LOKI: Enough! You are, all of you are beneath me! I am a god, you dull creature, and I will not be bullied by – (HULK flattens LOKI by SMASH) Whenever one of Whedon’s characters starts to speechify like William Wallace pontificating about the theoretical possibility of Scottish independence, that character’s likely to find his or her authority undermined either by their own words or someone else’s actions.* Whedon telegraphs it to a man who proceeds to semaphore it at your face. Which is why Mad Men continues to make for compelling television: Weiner and his writers are clearly aware of how they’re manipulating us and, like a great boxer, always slug us where we’re not expecting. Especially when they’ve established those expectations in a particular episode. In the last scene of this one, he combines the “Oh Really” sequence with its content-dependent and confessional opposite. To wit: He opens with this long shot of the Draper/Whitman family. They’re all clearly staring up at something, and because of the extremely high angle, seem to be dominated by whatever that something is. Establishing that something’s doing the dominating before actually showing it on screen has two effects: the first is to rouse our curiosity; the second, to remind us of what’s become obvious by now, i.e. that this family’s been burdened by an unknown and unspoken something for quite some time. Of course Don knows what it is, but to Sally, in particular, there’s just been this horrible presence that’s tainted her father’s relationships with everyone. She has no idea what it is, but this shot’s telling you here it is. But before cutting to this looming presence, Weiner thinks we need a refresher on how close this family is at the moment: These are the children. They’re together, but: They’re also apart from Don. Each slightly encroaches into the others’ shot, but for...
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It contains all the colors of the rainbow, from white to white.* Before you laugh, you should know that intellectual heavyweights like the Internet's own Jeff Goldstein are a crucial part of the movement to make "North Colorado" the 51st state. The movement's "willing to make our voices heard even while being labeled kooks and 'fringe' elements," which is a good thing, since it sounds like something concocted by kooky fringe elements. Who are these people? Don't know. But according to Jeff they represent a growing number of contiguous outlying counties that surround the Denver/Boulder doughnut hole owned by the hipsters and Democrats, and the many out-of-state (and illegally out-of-country) imports who have taken over Colorado government, at least for the time being[.] I wonder what those counties have in common? Let me see now: Kit Carson - 94.8 percent white Logan - 92.2 percent white Morgan - 92.8 percent white Phillips - 96.9 percent white Sedgewick - 96.0 percent white Washington - 96.2 percent white Weld - 93.4 percent white Yuma - 97.5 percent white They "represent" a group wants to form a state that will be on average 94.94 percent white. They specifically want to exclude urban areas like Denver County, which threatens their Great White Fever Dream with its 10.4 percent blackness. Not that their desire for a white state prevents them from explicitly comparing their plight to the Civil Rights Movement. Except if you scroll down, you'll see that their new white state will require that "the streets run with blood like we've never seen before." (That sounds ominous until you remember how low a benchmark that is for shut-ins like these.) So it'll be just like the Civil Rights Movement, only with lots of guns and violence. I bet Jeff's sitting at home right now thinking about rolling naked on the floor -- I mean grappling -- and choking the life from some dusky liberal relativist. Because there's nothing racist about wanting to create a white state if it's just an accident of ideology that everyone invested in its creation is white. Unrelatedly: *Stolen from a comment David Cross made when I saw him perform at the Irvine Spectrum Center many years ago.

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