Thursday, 16 September 2010

Mad Men: Picking up "The [wrong] Suitcase" In the first post about "The Suitcase," I concerned myself with the way Getzinger's camera conspired with blocking to frame the characters oppressively, and I want to build on that at the beginning of this one, but need to backtrack a bit first. In that post I noted that Getzinger switches to a medium shot and opens up an abyss beneath Draper that terminates in his office. I was spectacularly wrong. At the beginning of the episode, Draper's office sits atop an abyss, as the shot after the aforelinked one clearly demonstrates: The abyss does open up, but Draper escapes it by hanging a hard left into his office. That his office is all that saves him from falling is significant when the state of life outside of it is considered. I may be reading too much into this, but note that the wall at the end of the hall is dark, much like the bottom of a hole. If this dynamic is operative (instead of merely interpretative), that would put Draper's office at the "top" of the abyss and the end of the hall at its "bottom." Why would this be significant? Because after emerging from the restroom (after a series of encounters I wish I had time and space to write about), Peggy observes the lowliest of the firm's creative team at that bottom: And proceed to mock her for, need I even say it? Just in case I need to: Peggy is climbing up to the "top" of the abyss, with the directionality being clearly indicated by the natural sunlight streaming through the windows at the hallway's end. Now, I have a number of problems with the argument as set up here; foremost among them, it seems like I may have let the content of the episode (not to mention the arc of the series) overdetermine the visuals here. Peggy is on her way to becoming Draper's equal, and when coupled with the current state of his life and career, his being positioned at the "top" of anything other than an abyss would be ironic; that is, Peggy is clearly on her way up, and barring some great miracle, Draper is clearly on his way down. Is my entire analysis here predicated on the existence of the abyss I claimed had been created with the cut to this shot? Probably. Absent some more compelling visual evidence, I'm not comfortable making a case as dependent on an initial observation as this one seems to be.* Besides, I can make the case for their coming equality without having to build a house of cards. In the first episode of the first season, "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," Peggy—during her first day serving as Draper's secretary—reveals that she allowed Peter Campbell to enter Draper's office to retrieve his fountain pen; while in there, Campbell stole the research into the death drive that Draper had tossed in the trash, then used said research during the meeting with Lucky Strike. Draper upbraids...
Faith maintenance It turns out Dan Riehl is as adept at reading words as situations: I should apologize and confess to having previously torn off a quick, mostly hyperbolic and silly rant in response to this by Michael Gerson. I read through it, but right over my name, as well. So, I didn’t think Mr. Gerson was genuinely interested in what bloggers might actually think until now. h/t Newsbusters. Translation: Until someone else pointed out that he’d quoted me, I didn’t think he was interested in what people like me have to say. That’s a remarkable confession when you think about it, and says quite a bit about the current state of conservative blogs: everyone assumes they know what everyone else is thinking, so they stop reading what they actually write but continue to attack each other anyway. As far as I can gather—it’s rather confusing—it seems like the purity test of the week is not whether conservatives will be pragmatic and advocate voting for Christine O’Donnell, but whether they will hold their tongue or speak their piece about her obvious flaws as a candidate while doing so. Were I a fiscal conservative, I’d be bothered by the disconnect between her life and her professed ideals to the point of questioning whether the latter were nothing more than lip service; but as I am, for the most part, just chuffed that the Republicans of Delaware selected an unelectable candidate, I don’t feel the need to weigh in. Not even on the Donalde’s latest self-deflating argument, because I’m increasingly convinced that he’s engaged in some sort of performance art. No actual human, much less a teacher, could consider this an invitation to debate, or respond to its inevitable (and quite reasonable) rejection by issuing the following complaint: There’s a word for this: Anti-intellectualism. And that stance marinates in a devilish sauce of hard left-wing hubris and deceit. It’s further soaked in hatred, for to hate one’s enemies is to categorize them as beyond the pale of reason and civilization. The worst thing about this cooking show? The Donalde spent all night writing the script. So my choices are “sad, sad little man” or “brilliant performance artist,” and because I want to maintain my faith in humanity, I’m going with the latter.

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