Monday, August 23, 2010

Some follow ups

One crucial detail about Roger that doesn't seem to have elicited much comment is that right at the beginning, Roger shows himself to be on the right side of the civil rights debate. That is important is that it tells us that his later resistance is not driven by racism but by his own harrowing experience. This is an important historical detail: you simply cannot relativize the horrific abuses committed by the Japanese in WW2 away. There really were bad guys in that war and there is no reasonable way to suggest that the bad guys were anybody but the Japanese and the Germans.

I also think it is very important that Don's subterfuge  is used to shame the Japanese. When he tells Peggy, Joan and Pete about it, heys says. "Don't worry about the rules," forcefully and then adds, sotto voce. "For now". The whole thing is a ruse and not tied to anyone's genuine guilt. What Don does to his rival Shaw in fooling him into bankrupting himself on a commercial is good old-fashioned American flim flam. What he does to the Japanese is to shame them according to their rules.

It's a nice touch, BTW, that he writes them a personal cheque rather than a cheque against the business.

Don seems to be the only one who understands this. Except, maybe, for Roger. One of the reasons I keep bringing up the fight club interpretation is that these two never seem so deeply opposed as they might appear on the surface.

I know I said, it wasn't worth listing all the deceptions but there is one more I think worth noting. Don takes Bethany on a "date" that is really just an excuse to go to a Japanese restaurant and see the culture. He's using her and that should leave a bitter after taste in the mouths of those gloating about these young, feminist women getting the upper hand on Don. Apparently that is only for a while.

Assuming we get to see Bethany again, I wonder how she will respond to being ignored. She was clearly chafing at the lack of romance last night. Will she offer sex in attempt to get romance or would that be too depressingly like real life?

Update: One more, Dr. Edna  quickly figures out that Sally is probably just fine and the only real problem is her whacked out mother. So she pulls a trick on Betty and asks here to meet regularly with her as a way of furthering her ability to help Sally when she obviously intends to try and help Betty.


  1. I agree with you about Roger, as I said in an earlier comment his reaction is not racist at all but borne of his experience during WWII.

    Its clear that Betty gave Dr. Edna some "red flags" that indicated to her that Betty is part of Sally's problem, not that Sally is just fine. Children are part of a nuclear family and their problems don't occur in a vacuum but in the context of that family dynamic, which is why she wants to meet with Don also. It will be interesting to see how Weiner resolves this because back in the mid-'60s, from what I've read and been told, whenever sexual abuse was acknowledged it was handled far differently than it is today. An early pioneer in this field is Dr. Suzanne Sgroi of CT, who began working in the '70s with female victims of incest, and she was among the very few who did. If that's not where this scenario is going, Weiner is playing a joke on all of us because all the signs are there.

  2. Sally's cutting her hair was an act of self-mutilation. This sometimes accompanies sexual assault, especially if the victim feels guilt that she caused it to happen, or if she enjoyed it. Sally clearly enjoyed the attention her grandfather gave her, and may have experienced premature sexual feelings as well. Grampa Gene's sudden death could have compounded the guilt she felt over that, and caused her to feel responsible for that as well.

  3. Interesting.

    Do you think the sort of hurt and anger she is expressing could be connected with non-sexual issues. She is clearly upset about something but picking which is a bit of a target-rich environment. She is scared of her mother (and with good reason) and she is angry about the divorce, and possibly afraid that she caused it.

  4. Yes, you raise several good points. Its demonstrated in the psychology literature that most children of divorce believe that they were in some way resposible for it, and I think that only adds to Sally's guilt and confusion. But if what she's going through is not an issue of sexual abuse, then why does Weiner keep throwing out these red herrings? Her acting out is sexual, and she's "sexually precocious" i.e., her interest and curiosity about sex is beyond that of most children her age. To confuse us maybe, that's happened before. On the face of it Grampa Gene taking Sally under his wing was touching, just what she needed everyone thought to counter Betty's cruelty. But that's how single mothers felt when some of the priests befriended their pre-pubescent sons, happy that an older male was taking an interest in them. Its called "grooming" behavior and its done to gain the confidence and trust of the vulnerable child, which then allows the perpetrator to take advantage of them. Because Betty was on Sally's back all the time, and Don couldn't really be counted on, Sally was emotionally vulnerable when Gene came to live with them, she was ripe for any older authority figure who took a positive interest in her and didn't criticize her all the time. I'm amazed at the anger this has caused on another site where I ventured this theory, essentially from women which is interesting, methinks they doth protesteth too much.

  5. Just remembered another clue. When Don and Betty sat Bobby and Sally down to tell them they were getting a divorce, Sally blamed Betty for making Don sleep in Grampa Gene's room because "its scary in there." Seemed innocuous at the time, but in retrospect....

  6. To be honest, I hope not. I can see the evidence but I hope that is not it.(And my take on Grandpa Gene is far too positive for that. Which isn't to say that my take might not be wrong ...)

    I think Matt Weiner has been setting us up for something with Sally for a long time. There was an entire season where Don had her mixing drinks for him followed by her sneaking a serious drink herself when Don took her to the office.

    The one thing that I am pretty certain of is that Sally—as many girls of her generation did—will shock us.