Thursday, April 12, 2012

Manly Thor's Day Special: Roger is back

Well, at least the ad says he is. I'm trying to believe but I have my doubts. I'm more and more worried that he and Don are both being turned into a couple of the sort of pussy boys we see all around us these days in the name of "progress". This is tragic.

Guy's like Roger are always undersold both as characters and as human beings. Notice how easily he is written off in this era of dismissive judgments,
On a pure plot level, there's plenty to talk about. Roger, who has always been borderline useless, seems headed for a disastrous reckoning thanks to his utter non-engagement with the Mohawk account ...
Oh well, take him out back and shoot him then.

But the truth is that guys like Roger are absolutely essential for society to work and a failure to adequately recognize this has always been a problem for this series. As I've written before, they've had to recognize his importance to the cast. The show just doesn't work when you take Roger out of it. And Don Draper doesn't work when you take Roger out of it. (This is much like Casablanca—everyone thinks Bogart is the essential player but take Claude Rains out and that movie would have been born dead.)

Now, ultimately, he might be replaceable in the show. I can see how Ginsburg could replace Roger in Don's life and how that might work. And that might even be great television. But it wouldn't be Mad Men anymore. It would also be a travesty of history.

Consider: It was Roger Sterling''s generation that wrote, promoted and ultimately passed all the civil rights bills. That's the problem right there in a sense—boomers are resentful of Roger and his generation because an honest consideration of what they did  would expose just how shallow and vapid our "achievements" really are. Everything really good that happened in the 1960s would have been impossible without the greatest generation. Although boomers think of that decade as their time, they actually had almost nothing to do with the important achievements or the serious failures of that era.

So we resort to that favourite boomer method of dealing with facts we don't like: we argue by making shit up.

The single greatest failure of Mad Men is that it fails to give the men of that generation their due. And I say the men of that generation advisedly. Matt Weiner may think he can rewrite history in the name of political correctness but that is just cover for a vile lie driven by boomer vanity.

Ignore all the moral and political correctness and take a good look at Roger, especially if you're a young man. Don't focus too much on specific incidents but rather pay attention to the whole of the man. If you are looking for a role model, you could do a lot worse.

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