Tuesday, May 27, 2014

GH's Throwback Thursday Mad Men Edition: "The Strategy"


"My Way" performed by Frank Sinatra (1969)

And now, the end is near
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I'll say it clear
I'll state my case, of which I'm certain
I've lived a life that's full
I traveled each and ev'ry highway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way.

Regrets, I've had a few
But then again, too few to mention.
I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption.
I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way.

Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all, when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out
I faced it all and I stood tall and did it my way.

I've loved, I've laughed and cried
I've had my fill, my share of losing
And now, as tears subside, I find it all so amusing
To think I did all that
And may I say, not in a shy way,
"Oh, no, oh, no, not me, I did it my way."

For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught.
To say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows and did it my way!

Yes, it was my way.

Frank Sinatra was 53 when he first performed Paul Anka's "My Way," a huge hit in 1969, as featured on "The Strategy," Mad Men's penultimate episode before its midseason finale. But according to several accounts, it was a composition the singer grew to detest.

Will Friedwald of the Wall Street Journal documented this in June 2009, on the song's 40th anniversary:

"How could Sinatra hate a song that had done so much for him? He had spent the first 35 years or so of his career singing, essentially, one kind of song, the kind in which one human being expresses romantic love for another. It simply never would have occurred to Sinatra to sing a pretentious anthem in celebration of himself. If anything, that shtick was the territory of his sidekick, Sammy Davis Jr., who had raised his own career to a whole new level with a series of iconic hits that were inevitably about singing his own praises—most famously 'Once in a Lifetime' and 'I Gotta Be Me.' That's why Sinatra hated 'My Way': Although it was anticipated, to a degree, in his 1966 hit 'That's Life,' before Paul Anka's lyrics entered his world, it would have seemed like the tackiest thing imaginable to stand in the middle of Madison Square Garden and shout out to the world how great he was. Deep down, Sinatra was a genuinely humble man who never took his own success for granted. Even though the outline of Mr. Anka's text seemed to be based on The Sinatra Story—a superstar who stumbled, fell, and against unbelievable odds scaled the mountaintop of fame a second time—the attitude of the song was something he just couldn't relate to."

Sounds a bit like this fellow:

Like Sinatra, Don Draper, 10 years his junior, is closer to being part of the World War II generation, a much more modest group of people than its progeny, than he is to the Baby Boomers. Their scrimping and saving during the Great Depression taught them the value of self-sacrifice—they worked hard, appreciated family and community ties and were loyal to institutions and traditional religion. In other words, their values had nothing to do with saying things like "and through it all, I stood tall, and did it my way" and they certainly wouldn't have talked about a man "being himself" or "saying what he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels."

They were like Shirley Polykoff, an advertising copywriter highlighted in Malcolm Gladwell's 1999 New Yorker study, "True Colors: Hair dye and the hidden history of postwar America":

"In 1956, when Shirley Polykoff was a junior copywriter at Foote, Cone & Belding, she was given the Clairol account...Miss Clairol gave American women the ability, for the first time, to color their hair quickly and easily at home. But there was still the stigma—the prospect of the disapproving mother-in-law. Shirley Polykoff knew immediately what she wanted to say, because if she believed that a woman had a right to be a blonde she also believed that a woman ought to be able to exercise that right with discretion. 'Does she or doesn’t she?' she wrote. 'Only her hairdresser knows for sure.'

Good Housekeeping, August 1969

"Shirley Polykoff wrote the lines; Clairol perfected the product. And from the 1950s to the 1970s, when Polykoff gave up the account, the number of American women coloring their hair rose from 7% to more than 40%.

"This notion of the useful fiction—of looking the part without being the part—had a particular resonance for the America of Shirley Polykoff’s generation. As a teenager, Shirley Polykoff tried to get a position as a clerk at an insurance agency and failed. Then she tried again, at another firm, applying as Shirley Miller. This time, she got the job. Her husband, George, also knew the value of appearances. The week Polykoff first met him, she was dazzled by his worldly sophistication, his knowledge of out-of-the-way places in Europe, his exquisite taste in fine food and wine. The second week, she learned that his expertise was all show, derived from reading the Times. The truth was that George had started his career loading boxes in the basement of Macy’s by day and studying law at night. He was a faker, just as, in a certain sense, she was, because to be Jewish—or Irish or Italian or African-American or, for that matter, a woman of the 1950s caught up in the first faint stirrings of feminism—was to be compelled to fake it in a thousand small ways, to pass as one thing when, deep inside, you were something else.

"'That’s the kind of pressure that comes from the immigrants’ arriving and thinking that they don’t look right, that they are kind of funny-looking and maybe shorter than everyone else, and their clothes aren’t expensive,' Alix Nelson Frick [Shirley Polykoff's daughter] says. 'There were all those phrases that came to fruition at that time—you know, "clothes make the man" and "first impressions count."' So the question 'Does she or doesn’t she?' wasn’t just about how no one could ever really know what you were doing. It was about how no one could ever really know who you were. It really meant not 'Does she?' but 'Is she?' It really meant 'Is she a contented homemaker or a feminist, a Jew or a Gentile–or isn’t she?'"

No one could ever really know who you were.

What is a man, what has he got? If not himself, then he has naught.

But in June 1969, when they were right on the verge of the 1970s, "My Way" was the perfect anthem for the Baby Boomers and their natural reaction to their parents' "fakery."

According to a Wikipedia page on the subject, "The term 'Me' generation refers to the self-involved qualities that some people associated with it. Americans born during the 1946–1964 baby boom were dubbed the Me generation by writer Tom Wolfe during the 1970s. The phrase caught on with the general public at a time when 'self-realization' and 'self-fulfillment' were becoming cultural aspirations among young people, who considered them far more important than social responsibility."

"The new introspectiveness announced the demise of an established set of traditional faiths centered on work and the postponement of gratification, and the emergence of a consumption-oriented lifestyle ethic centered on lived experience and the immediacy of daily lifestyle choices.

"The cultural change during the 1970s was complex. The 1960s are remembered as a time of political protests, radical experimentation with new cultural experiences (the Sexual Revolution, happenings, mainstream awareness of Eastern religions). The Civil Rights Movement gave rebellious young people serious goals to work towards. Cultural experimentation was justified as being directed toward spiritual or intellectual enlightenment. The 1970s, in contrast, were a time of disillusionment with idealistic politics, particularly after the resignation of Richard Nixon, the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and the end of the Vietnam War. Unapologetic hedonism became acceptable among the young, expressed in the disco music popular at the time.

"The development of a youth culture focusing so heavily on self-fulfillment was also perhaps a reaction against the traits that characterized the older generation. Baby Boomers gradually abandoned those values in large numbers, a development that was entrenched during the 1970s.

"Health and exercise fads, New Age spirituality, discos and hot tub parties, self-help programs such as EST and the growth of the self-help book industry became identified with the Baby Boomers during the 1970s. The marketing of lifestyle products, eagerly consumed by Baby Boomers with disposable income during the 1970s, became an inescapable part of the culture."

Last week, when we talked about the runaways of the late 1960s—or at least the difference between a WWII runaway and a hippie in 1969, those members of society who had chosen to leave society altogether—we left a large part of the younger generation out. What were the rest of the Baby Boomers up to, if not smoking pot and listening to The Fifth Dimension?

With "The Strategy," Matthew Weiner answered that question: They were all busy shopping.

We've yet to see an episode of this series where there are more mentions of this activity. On that June weekend in 1969, these characters get in more retail therapy than at any other time in the series' past seven years.

"I want you shopping all day and screwing all night."

(I guess at least she gets to do the first part.)

"We're going to eat this delicious breakfast, and then I'm taking you shopping."

And I assume Don does, because Megan goes home looking like this:

Even Bob seemingly spends his whole Saturday shopping, then shows up Sunday at Joan's place bearing gifts:

All of which is why Copy Chief Peggy Olson, an active member of the "Me" generation, has absolutely nothing to worry about.

And why her mentor Don Draper, who worries about a lot of things (that he "never did anything," that he "doesn't have anyone"), never worries about her.

"Do you hear this? Do you think that's a coincidence?"

When Don dances with Peggy to "My Way," it resembles a father-daughter dance at a wedding for a reason—Don is indeed giving her away. He's passing a baton.

Peggy is concerned that she doesn't know how to sell to mothers, to women she can't relate to, to women a big part of her envies. So Don tells her not to worry about telling people what they should want, that instead she should focus on communicating her own desires in her ads.

Peggy wants a sense of family that is less proscribed, that might just be a group of friends, so that is what her Burger Chef ad ends up being about—and the reason it will be successful is because it is the truth. As much as Don is a product of his time, Peggy is a product of hers, and rather than denying her age, she should be relishing it, because her insights, wisdom and perspective are about to form and shape a whole generation of working women just like her.

Peggy doesn't have to worry about not knowing how to advertise to stay-at-home moms. Because pretty soon, nearly all the moms will be working outside the home.

And as illustrated by the youngest characters on this episode, they'll be spending for reasons neither she nor Don could ever imagine.

Lizabeth Cohen talks about this in her 2004 book A Consumer's Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America:

"By 1965, a majority of Americans would make their homes in suburbs rather than cities. The home ownership at the heart of the Consumers’ Republic [Cohen's term] did more than expand the numbers and enhance the status of suburbanites over urbanites. Through their greater access to home mortgages, credit and tax advantages, men benefited over women, whites over blacks and middle-class Americans over working-class ones. Men, for example, secured low VA mortgages and the additional credit that home ownership made available, as a result of their veteran status in World War II and the Korean War, while women generally did not. White Americans more easily qualified for mortgages, including those dispensed through the GI Bill, which worked through existing—and consistently discriminatory—banking institutions, and more readily found suburban houses to buy than African Americans could. And while some working-class Americans did move to suburbs, increasingly they tended to settle in “cops and firemen” suburban towns quite distinct from where successful professionals and entrepreneurs lived. A metropolitan landscape emerged where whole communities were increasingly being stratified along class and racial lines.

"The stratification of the residential metropolis in postwar America was accompanied by a similar segmentation, as well as commercialization and privatization of public space, of what previously had been the urban downtown. By the mid-1950s, a new market structure—the regional shopping center—well-suited to this suburbanized, mass consumption-oriented society, emerged, a vision and soon a reality where the center of community life was a site devoted to mass consumption, and what was promoted as public space was in fact privately owned and geared to maximizing profits. As developers and store owners set out to make the shopping center a more perfect downtown, they explicitly aimed to exclude from this community space unwanted social groups such as vagrants, racial minorities, political activists and poor people. They did so through a combination of location, marketing and policing.

"The shopping centers of the 1950s and 1960s also contributed to a new calibration of consumer authority in the household between men and women that in many ways limited women’s power over the family purse. For all the attention that shopping centers lavished on women, they did little to enhance their social and economic power. Rather, as mass consumption became more and more central to the health of the economy, shopping centers and the stores within them celebrated the family as a consumer unit and paid increasing attention to men as the chief breadwinner and consumer. Men’s increased involvement in family purchasing was also reinforced by the huge expansion of credit that shopping centers encouraged, making credit cards and other forms of credit the legal tender of mall purchasing. Until the passage of equal credit legislation in the 1970s, the growing importance of credit deepened men’s oversight of their wives and daughters, as male names and credit ratings were required for women’s own access.

"The economic and social stratification of metropolitan America was reinforced by marketers and advertisers, who simultaneously discovered the greater profits to be made in segmenting the market into distinctive submarkets based on gender, class, age, race, ethnicity, and lifestyle. The Consumers’ Republic was founded in the 1940s and 1950s on the conviction that mass markets offered endless potential for growth and appealed to all Americans. 'The rich man smokes the same sort of cigarettes as the poor man, shaves with the same sort of razor, uses the same sort of telephone, vacuum cleaner, radio and TV set,' and drives a car with only minor variations, Harper’s Magazine typically asserted. But by the late 1950s, advertisers, marketers and manufacturers began to worry that mass markets would soon be saturated as more and more Americans bought a house, car, refrigerator and washing machine.

"The alternative that emerged, and flourished by the 1960s, was market segmentation, the division of mass markets into smaller market segments defined by distinctive orientations and tastes, each to be sold different products, or if the same product, to be sold in a totally different way. As segmenting pioneer Pierre Martineau argued in a groundbreaking article in the Journal of Marketing in 1958, a member of a market segment defined by social class or other criteria is 'profoundly different in his mode of thinking and his way of handling the world.... Where he buys and what he buys will differ not only by economics but in symbolic value.'

"During the last half century, Americans’ confidence that an economy and culture built around mass consumption could best deliver greater democracy and equality led us from the Consumers’ Republic to what I call the 'consumerization of the republic.' Americans increasingly came to judge the success of the public realm much like other purchased goods, by the personal benefit individual citizen-consumers derived from it.

"I do acknowledge in this book that the linkage made in the Consumers’ Republic between citizen and consumer spawned some important grassroots, democratic political action, most notably the Civil Rights Movement that began as a drive for access to public—often commercial—accommodations in the North right after World War II. If citizens had a patriotic responsibility to consume, then denying them was a violation of both a free market and a free society, it was argued. And I also explore how the democratic expectations raised by the Consumers’ Republic fueled the impressive consumer movement of the 1960s and 1970s, as citizen consumers aimed to hold corporations and government to higher moral and quality standards.

"But by the beginning of the 21st century, more often than not, Americans are asking of the public domain, 'Am I getting my money’s worth?' rather than 'What’s best for America?' Knowingly or not, they speak in an idiom that evolved out of the perhaps initially naive but ultimately misguided conviction of the Consumers’ Republic, that private markets could solve the nation’s social and political as well as economic problems, somehow delivering greater democracy and prosperity to one and all at the very same time."

By the 1970s, as Juliet B. Schor notes in her 1999 book The Overspent American: Why We Want What We Don't Need, "expert observers were declaring the death of the 'belonging' process, which had driven much competitive consumption, and arguing that the establishment of an individual identity—rather than staying current with the Joneses—was becoming the name of the game. The new trend was to consume in a personal style, with products that signaled your individuality, your personal sense of taste and distinction. But, of course, you had to be different in the right way. The trick was to create a unique image through what you had and wore—and what you did not have and would not be seen dead in."

In this self-serving, self-defining, youth-worshiping culture, it could hardly be a surprise then that the women who'd previously read women's magazines for tips on homemaking were now suddenly consumed by the desire to go shopping for clothes and buy beauty products that would keep them looking forever 21.

And it was no different in Good Housekeeping. As the months progressed from spring to summer to fall in 1969, the magazine started publishing more and more ads for clothing (which were much more geared toward going to a department store and buying the clothes, rather than—what had been more popular previously—buying the fabric and using the patterns to sew the clothing yourself).

Good Housekeeping, June 1969

Good Housekeeping, June 1969

Good Housekeeping, June 1969

Good Housekeeping, August 1969

"When asked to describe themselves in the late 1960s," writes Linda Przybyszewski in The Lost Art of Dress: The Women who Once Made America Stylish (in bookstores now), only 38% of people over 60 years of age were willing to call themselves old or elderly. Another 60% preferred to think of themselves as middle-aged. Which meant they were planning on living to 120. This loss of perspective was propelled by two shifts in the nature of the American population. The less obvious of the two was that more people were living longer.... The more obvious shift was the arrival of the Baby Boomers and their influence on our culture. During the Youthquake, growing up no longer seemed a worthwhile goal. 'Middle age has been abolished by the new fashions,' Mary Quant assured us in 1967. 'Provided you're prepared to take trouble about it, you just suddenly get old somewhere between 65 and 80, and until then, you can stay looking young.' Quant was 32 when she made this announcement. She was still being photographed in childish jumpers, and already wearing the hairstyle that became a necessity among designers who profited from the Youthquake: bangs halfway over the eyes. This coiffure covers as much of the face as possible in order to hide the lines that mark the no longer young. The Baby Boomers and their favorite designers couldn't avoid middle age any more than anyone else. Their problem was that they turned it into a tragedy, while discarding all the styles that their elders had claimed the privilege of wearing."

Good Housekeeping, July 1969

Naomi Wolf wrote an entire book in 1991 about what she considered to be the most harmful result of this time period, a heightened realization of "the beauty myth," which she defined as follows: "The beauty myth tells a story: The quality called 'beauty' objectively and universally exists. Women must want to embody it and men must want to possess women who embody it. This embodiment is an imperative for women and not for men, which situation is necessary and natural because it is biological, sexual and evolutionary: Strong men battle for beautiful women, and beautiful women are more reproductively successful. Women's beauty must correlate to their fertility, and since this system is based on sexual selection, it is inevitable and changeless."

Good Housekeeping, July 1969
In Wolf's chapter on women's magazines, she writes, "Though many writers have pointed out that women's magazines reflect historical change, fewer examine how part of their job is to determine historical change as well. Editors do their jobs well by reading the Zeitgeist; editors of women's magazines—and, increasingly, mainstream media as well—must be alert to what social roles are demanded of women to serve the interests of those who sponsor their publication. Women's magazines for over a century have been one of the most powerful agents for changing women's roles, and throughout that time—today more than ever—they have consistently glamorized whatever the economy, their advertisers, and, during wartime, the government, needed at that moment from women.

Good Housekeeping, June 1969
"By the 1950s, the traditional women's magazine's role was re-established: 'In psychological terms,' writes Ann Oakley in Housewife, 'they enabled the harassed mother, the overburdened housewife, to make contact with her ideal self: that self which aspires to be a good wife, a good mother and an efficient homemaker.... Women's expected role in society [was] to strive after perfection in all three roles.' The definition of perfection, however, changes with the needs of employers, politicians and, in the postwar economy that depended on spiraling consumption, advertisers.

"In the 1950s, advertising revenues soared, shifting the balance between editorial and advertising departments. Women's magazines became of interest to 'the companies that, with the war about to end, were going to have to make consumer sales take the place of war contracts.' The main advertisers in the women's magazines responsible for the Feminine Mystique were seeking to sell household products.

"In a chapter of Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique entitled "The Sexual Sell," she traced how American housewives' 'lack of identity' and 'lack of purpose...[are] manipulated into dollars.' She explored a marketing service and found that, of the three categories of women, the Career Woman was 'unhealthy' from the advertisers' point of view, and 'that it would be to their advantage not to let this group get any larger....they are not the ideal type of customer. They are too critical.'

Good Housekeeping, July 1969
"The marketers' reports described how to manipulate housewives into becoming insecure consumers of household products: 'A transfer of guilt must be achieved,' they said, 'Capitalize...on "guilt over hidden dirt."' Stress the 'therapeutic value' of baking, they suggested: 'With X mix in the home, you will be a different woman.' They urged giving the housewife 'a sense of achievement,' to compensate her for a task that was 'endless' and 'time-consuming.' Give her, they urged manufacturers, 'specialized products for specialized tasks'; and 'make housework a matter of knowledge and skill rather than a matter of brawn and dull, unremitting effort.' Identify your products with 'spiritual rewards,' 'an almost religious feeling,' 'an almost religious belief.' For objects with 'added psychological value,' the report concluded, 'the price itself hardly matters.' Modern advertisers are selling diet products and 'specialized' cosmetics and antiaging creams rather than household goods. In 1989, 'toiletries/cosmetics' ad revenue offered $650 million to the magazines, while 'soaps, cleansers, and polishes' yielded only one-tenth that amount. So modern women's magazines now center on beauty rather than housework: You can easily substitute in the above quotes from the 1950s all the appropriate modern counterparts from the beauty myth.

Good Housekeeping, June 1969
"When the restless, isolated, bored and insecure housewife fled the Feminine Mystique for the workplace, advertisers faced the loss of their primary consumer. How to make sure that busy, stimulated working women would keep consuming at the levels they had done when they had all day to do so and little else of interest to occupy them? A new ideology was necessary that would compel the same insecure consumerism; that ideology must be, unlike that of the Feminine Mystique, a briefcase-sized neurosis that the working woman could take with her to the office. To paraphrase Friedan, why is it never said that the really crucial function that women serve as aspiring beauties is to buy more things for the body? Somehow, somewhere, someone must have figured out that they will buy more things if they are kept in the self-hating, ever-failing, hungry, and sexually insecure state of being aspiring 'beauties.'

"The modern form of the beauty myth was figured out, with its $33-billion thinness industry and its $20-billion youth industry....the beauty myth simply took over the function of Friedan's 'religion' of domesticity. The terms have changed but the effect is the same. Of the women's culture of the 1950s, Friedan lamented that 'there is no other way for a woman to be a heroine' than to 'keep on having babies'; today, a heroine must 'keep on being beautiful.'"

Good Housekeeping, September 1969

(I think that last one's the creepiest.)

Of course all of this explains a great deal about what I wondered a few posts back: How GH, and women's magazines in general, could have suddenly been publishing diet story after diet story at the same time they were publishing more ads for sandwiches you could make for the husband and kids.

Good Housekeeping, June 1969

Good Housekeeping, June 1969

Good Housekeeping, June 1969

And in the summer of 1969, just in time for Peggy's Burger Chef ad, GH started pushing one other thing more than before: burgers.

Good Housekeeping, June 1969

Good Housekeeping, June 1969

Good Housekeeping, June 1969

This was a few years before the slogan "Have It Your Way" even existed. But back to that in a moment.

In his "True Colors" article for the New Yorker in 1999, mentioned above, Malcolm Gladwell also talks about another haircolor line: L'Oreal.

"In 1973, Ilon Specht was working as a copywriter at the McCann-Erickson advertising agency, in New York. She was a 23-year-old college dropout from California. She was rebellious, unconventional and independent, and she had come East to work on Madison Avenue, because that’s where people like that went to work back then.

"At McCann, Ilon Specht was working with L’Oreal, a French company that was trying to challenge Clairol’s dominance in the American haircolor market. L’Oreal had originally wanted to do a series of comparison spots, presenting research proving that their new product—Preference—was technologically superior to Nice 'n Easy, because it delivered a more natural, translucent color. But at the last minute the campaign was killed because the research hadn’t been done in the United States. At McCann, there was panic. 'We were four weeks before air date and we had nothing—nada,' Michael Sennott, a staffer who was also working on the account, says. The creative team locked itself away: Specht, Madris—who was the art director on the account—and a handful of others. 'We were sitting in this big office,' Specht recalls. 'And everyone was discussing what the ad should be. They wanted to do something with a woman sitting by a window, and the wind blowing through the curtains. You know, one of those fake places with big, glamorous curtains. The woman was a complete object. I don’t think she even spoke. They just didn’t get it. We were in there for hours.'

"'I was a 23-year-old girl—a woman,' she said. 'What would my state of mind have been? I could just see that they had this traditional view of women, and my feeling was that I’m not writing an ad about looking good for men, which is what it seems to me that they were doing. I just thought, Fuck you. I sat down and did it, in five minutes. It was very personal. I can recite to you the whole commercial, because I was so angry when I wrote it.'
Good Housekeeping, August 1969

"Specht sat stock still and lowered her voice: 'I use the most expensive hair color in the world. Preference, by L’Oreal. It’s not that I care about money. It’s that I care about my hair. It’s not just the color. I expect great color. What’s worth more to me is the way my hair feels. Smooth and silky but with body. It feels good against my neck. Actually, I don’t mind spending more for L’Oreal. Because I’m'—and here Specht took her fist and struck her chest—'worth it.'

"The power of the commercial was originally thought to lie in its subtle justification of the fact that Preference cost 10 cents more than Nice 'n Easy. But it quickly became obvious that the last line was the one that counted. On the strength of 'Because I’m worth it,' Preference began stealing market share from Clairol. In the 1980s, Preference surpassed Nice 'n Easy as the leading haircolor brand in the country, and two years ago L’Oreal took the phrase and made it the slogan for the whole company. An astonishing 71% of American women can now identify that phrase as the L’Oreal signature, which, for a slogan—as opposed to a brand name—is almost without precedent.

Good Housekeeping, August 1969
"The truth is that Shirley Polykoff’s sensibility—which found freedom in assimilation—had been overtaken by events. In one of Polykoff’s 'Is it true blondes have more fun?' commercials for Lady Clairol in the 1960s, for example, there is a moment that by 1973 must have been painful to watch. A young woman, radiantly blond, is by a lake, being swung around in the air by a darkly handsome young man. His arms are around her waist. Her arms are around his neck, her shoes off, her face aglow. The voice-over is male, deep and sonorous. 'Chances are,' the voice says, 'she’d have gotten the young man anyhow, but you’ll never convince her of that.' Here was the downside to Shirley Polykoff’s world. You could get what you wanted by faking it, but then you would never know whether it was you or the bit of fakery that made the difference. You ran the risk of losing sight of who you really were. Shirley Polykoff knew that the all-American life was worth it, and that 'he'—the handsome man by the lake—was worth it. But, by the end of the '60s, women wanted to know that they were worth it, too."

If Peggy and others like her are able to tap into this concept of treating oneself, no matter the cost, now that women actually have their own money—and soon their own credit cards—to spend, then her work on the Burger Chef ad in Mad Men's "The Strategy" could be taken to a whole new level. She could be responsible for helping a whole generation of tired, working, guilt-ridden mothers—moms who just want a chance to relax and do something nice for themselves at the end of a busy day. She could be the brain behind Value Meals at McDonald's—a specialized, individual menu item, just for you—behind the Frappuccino at Starbucks and the multitude of stipulations you can give your local barista. She could someday be responsible for the first iPod, available in a variety of colors—whichever one suits your temperament. Hell, she could be the generator of the million-dollar wedding business in this country, because a "Career Woman" would absolutely want her wedding to be done "her way."

And she could be the ad director for Cabbage Patch Kids, My Buddy, for the burgeoning, unique-to-you toy industry in general, as seen on those summer GH pages and in the Barbie and Erector set purchased by hopeful dads on this episode:

Yeah, that's gonna go well... (and remember, Bonnie bought this Barbie, not Pete himself)

Good Housekeeping, June 1969

Good Housekeeping, July 1969

Good Housekeeping, August 1969

But back to Burger King.

Two days after "The Strategy" aired last week, the 61-year-old restaurant chain announced that it would be discontinuing its "Have It Your Way" slogan:

"Burger King is scrapping its 40-year-old slogan in favor of the more personal 'Be Your Way.'

"Burger King says in a statement that the new motto is intended to remind people that 'they can and should live how they want anytime. It's OK to not be perfect... Self-expression is most important and it's our differences that make us individuals instead of robots.'

"It may seem odd for a fast-food company to champion individuality, but Burger King isn't the only one trying to project a hip, non-corporate attitude to gain favor with customers. Since 2012, for instance, Taco Bell has been touting its 'Live Mas' slogan, which means 'live more' in Spanish.

"Fernando Machado, Burger King's senior vice president of global brand management, noted in an interview that 'Have It Your Way' focuses only on the purchase—the ability to customize a burger. By contrast, he said 'Be Your Way' is about making a connection with a person's greater lifestyle.

"'We want to evolve from just being the functional side of things to having a much stronger emotional appeal,' said Machado, who joined the company in March."

So, in 45 years, we've gone from "What if there was a place where there was no TV, where you could break bread, and whomever you were sitting with was family?" to "Be your way."

No wonder we're such a lonely, overspending, overeating, disconnected country of technology addicts.

But there is hope: According to the article, "whether the new tag line can help Burger King's image over the long term remains to be seen. The company, along with McDonald's Corp., is fighting to boost sales at a time when people are moving toward foods they feel are fresher or higher quality."

I still think the cradle-to-grave advertising means fast food is stuck with us forever, though.

Because if your childhood was anything like mine and you're between the ages of 25 and 45, a huge part of why you watch this show is because of scenes like this one. There is something heartwarming about watching the beginning of divorced or single parents taking their kids out to eat if it's something you yourself have experienced. Whether it's Don eating in a diner with Sally or the three single parents sitting at a table at a burger chain above, there's a certain nostalgia triggered in Gen X and Gen Y, the next generations.

Adam Gopnik talked about this a bit in his 2012 story for the New Yorker, "The 40-Year Itch":

"When the new season of Mad Men began, just a few weeks ago, it carried with it an argument about whether the spell it casts is largely a product of its beautifully detailed early-1960s setting or whether, as Matthew Weiner, its creator, insisted, it’s not backward-looking at all but a product of character, story line and theme. So it seems time to pronounce a rule about American popular culture: the Golden 40-Year Rule. The prime site of nostalgia is always whatever happened, or is thought to have happened, in the decade between 40 and 50 years past. (And the particular force of nostalgia, one should bear in mind, is not simply that it is a good setting for a story but that it is a good setting for you.)

"Our aughts arrived with the 60s as their lost Eden, right on schedule. That meant too many 60s-pastiche rock bands to mention (think only of Alex Turner, of Arctic Monkeys, sounding exactly like John Lennon), with the plangent postmodern twist that in some cases the original article was supplying its own nostalgia: there were the Stones and the Beach Boys on long stadium tours, doing their 40-year-old hits as though they were new. With the arrival of Mad Men, in 2007 (based on a pilot written earlier in the decade), 1960s nostalgia was raised to an appropriately self-conscious and self-adoring 40-year peak.

"That takes us to the current day, and, at last, to the reasons behind the rule. What drives the cycle isn’t, in the first instance, the people watching and listening; it’s the producers who help create and nurture the preferred past and then push their work on the audience. Though pop culture is most often performed by the young, the directors and programmers and gatekeepers—the suits who control and create its conditions, who make the calls and choose the players—are, and always have been, largely 40-somethings, and the four-decade interval brings us to a period just before the 40-something was born. Forty years past is the potently fascinating time just as we arrived, when our parents were youthful and in love, the Edenic period preceding the fallen state recorded in our actual memories. Matthew Weiner, born in 1965, is the baby in his own series."

I have quite a few more matchups from "The Strategy" that I'll be posting next week along with my midseason-finale post.

Until then, "I bring the authority. He brings the emotion."

Sunday, May 18, 2014

GH's Throwback Thursday Mad Men Edition: "The Runaways"

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"Runaway" by Del Shannon (1961)

As I walk along, I wonder
Oh, what went wrong with our love
A love that was so strong.

And as I still walk on
I think of the things we've done together
Oh, while our hearts were young.

I'm a-walking in the rain, tears are falling and I feel a pain
A-wishing you were here by me to end this misery
And I wonder, I wa-wa-wa-wa-wonder

Why, why why why why why she ran away
And I wonder, oh where she will stay-ay,
My little runaway, a-run-run-run-run-runaway.

I'm a-walking in the rain, tears are falling and I feel a pain
A-wishing you were here by me to end this misery
I wonder, I wa-wa-wa-wa-wonder

Why, why why why why why she ran away
And I wonder, oh where she will stay-ay
My little runaway, a-run-run-run-run-runaway
A-run-run-run-run-runaway, a-run-run-run-run-runaway.

Thursday, May 8th, would have been the 94th birthday of Saul Bass, had he lived to see that age, a man famous for designing virtually everything worth buying in the 1960s. By May 1969, the time period we're likely seeing on Mad Men's Episode 7.5, "The Runaways," he'd already generated posters for the decade's most famous films—films like Vertigo, Spartacus and The Man With the Golden Arm (talked about in greater detail on Steven Seighman's blog, The Jump Cut). Some have even said that the opening credits of Mad Men resemble Bass's work—the silhouette of a suited man falling, falling, falling...

But it wasn't until 1969 that Bass would create a logo for something that would make his work truly ubiquitous: the Dixie cup.

According to the Smithsonian, Dixie cups offered "something at once refreshing and profoundly sobering. [They were] a pioneering product that ushered in the wave of single-use items—razors, aerosolized cans, pens, bottles of water and the paper cups you can find at doctor’s offices, backyard barbecues and, of course, the office water cooler."

It's the kind of item that promotes a great deal of freedom, an item you can easily throw away.

With the exception of maybe this smarmy fellow, we haven't seen many characters drinking out of disposable paper cups on Mad Men. And Bob Benson only ever really drinks coffee from a paper cup, and it's always one specific kind of cup, the Anthora—though something tells me he often has to drink from two. (You might have spotted a box of Dixie cups in the background in an episode in the show's early years, seen below, but I don't recall anyone ever drinking from one.)

In 1962, Peggy and Joan probably would have been horrified by the idea of consuming a cocktail at a party from a paper cup. And in May 1969, they might still be.

You know who wouldn't be? These guys:

In one of AMC's "Behind the Scenes" videos this week, Mad Men Property Master Ellen Freund said, "It was a lot of fun doing two parties in one episode because they're totally different parties. For Betty's party, the silver came out, all the good stuff came out. Perfect appetizers. But everything for Megan's party was very casual—plastic glasses, paper cups—things that were appropriate for 1969 youth Los Angeles."

The effort Betty puts into preparing for Henry's party is becoming a hallmark of the older generation at this point (much like her feelings about the Vietnam War, the state of which she apparently blames on the younger generation's lack of patriotism).

And in spring 1969, Good Houskeeping published party-planning ads that would have appealed to her:

And some that would have appealed to Megan:

(Paper cups with handles and a photo with amazing graphics? I'm sold.)

And here's Betty's latest spring 1969 GH doppelganger, from a Breck ad on the back of the May issue:

I can't decide which one looks happier.

Here's Megan's:

I mean, c'mon.

As Don struggles to find authenticity this season, he is surrounded by younger folks like the ones drinking beer out of paper Dixie cups at Megan's party (the red Solo cup was soon to follow in the 1970s) who are doing the same thing—but their struggle is mainly with "the phonies," as Holden Caufield might say, the older, World War II generation and its stodgy ways.

Matthew Weiner titled this episode "The Runaways," and Don Draper is the epitome of such. As a younger man coming of age, he escapes a life that looks like this:

Dick Whitman steals his new identity and throws away his old one. It's disposable.

As Don Draper, he makes an exciting new world for himself. He's the hero of his own story—and though much of his reality is essentially false, he's happier than what he considers the alternative.

Or is he?

In the past few seasons, we've learned that it's actually impossible for Don to run away from his true self, and no matter how much he might achieve as Don Draper, it will never be enough to heal Dick.

Dick Whitman's story is a 20th-century adventure. Though he has to do it as Don, when he runs away, he experiences the American dream, rags to riches. He makes a life out of nothing.

By 1969, though, young runaways, like Roger's daughter Margaret and Don's niece Stephanie (both in ponchos, coincidentally), were embarking on a very different kind of odyssey:

Karen M. Staller explains this well in Runaways: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped Today's Practices and Policies:

"As evident in the New York Times, there was a dramatic shift in the construction of runaway stories and thus in runaway discourse between 1960 and the late 1970s. In the early part of the 1960s, runaway adventures were characterized as safe, harmless, and predictable. Intervention by police (or other adults) was quick, in part, because runaways were so easy to identify by their dress or demeanor. If children weren't quickly caught by adults, they were forced back home by lack of resources (such as food or shelter). Children came from relatively happy homes or, at the very least, ones to which they could return. They did not go very far away or, if they did, they went to predictable places at predictable times of year (making intervention easier).

In the mid-to-late 1960s (with a crisis year in 1967), runaway discourse commingled with that on hippies. During this period, the story frame of the safe adventurer imploded as it mixed with discussions about wandering long-haired youth of the counterculture and its underground. Adventures were no longer safe. Children were drawn to counterculture areas (rather than to fairs and carnivals). Children could be gone for long periods of time, and they were not easy to identify because they blended into the counterculture scene. Adult hippies were uncooperative, and police no longer were effective agents of social control. In short, runaway children could vanish in the underground counterculture abyss and disappear forever. The earlier 1960s story frame of safe runaway adventures could not survive these new rhetorical and social conditions.

As public discussion on hippies receded, a newly constituted 'typical' runaway emerged. This one represented an entire population of similarly situated children. This typical runaway was street-based, left home for long periods of time, and was in danger of exploitation and victimization. These runaways came from unhappy homes to which they were unwilling to return. So rather than being forced home by lack of resources (as in the early 1960s), these runaways were driven to 'survival sex.' Police were no longer able to thwart runaway episodes nor could they protect children. In fact runaway youth were mostly on their own."

This does not bode well for Miss Sally Draper, who's already run off to school after witnessing her father's adultery, attempted to alter her identity via a fake license and said on a couple of occasions that she's willing to hitchhike if necessary, the most recent of which happened Sunday night:

"They'll never let you out. You're too little."

The poncho: the standard runaway uniform of 1969.

And I meant to post this last week, but here's a throwback to Good Housekeeping's idea of hippies at the time:

Yeah, that's pretty far off.

That sweet scene shared by Sally and Bobby showed the most authentic connection and intimacy of any this entire season (rivaled only by Roger and Margaret's looking up at the stars in "The Monolith"—during which they didn't likely "think of a number"). And really, that's what the New Wave runaway was mostly looking for, as represented accurately this episode: an authentic connection. It's something that doesn't often seem possible in a world that is all pretense and facade, constructed by people like Don Draper, who can hide within it, and Betty Francis, who was literally a model when she met him.

(That "perfect nose" of hers seems to have gotten her involved with another phony, hasn't it? Somehow in her self-righteousness Betty failed to notice the very slim difference between a politician and an ad man.)

"Are there others like you?" Peggy asks Michael Ginsberg in season five's "Faraway Places," after he tells her that while he believes he's a Martian, his adoptive father has told him he was born in a concentration camp.

"I don't know," he responds. "I haven't been able to find any."

Is there any runaway in history braver or more alienated than a survivor of the Holocaust?

In Michael Ginsberg, you have the perfect storm this episode: a Holocaust survivor who has post-traumatic stress that's being triggered by extenuating circumstances, a.k.a. "the computer."

He's working for an unbearable boss who is stunting his creativity. He stays late in the office to finish tag lines for HandiWrap, which was also quite a disposable product of convenience—here are the ads Good Housekeeping ran for it in spring of 1969 (and it got the Seal, so you know it was a hot commodity):

He's trying to come up with creative verbiage to sell this modern-convenience dreck, not to mention the Burger Chef ads, which would only contribute to this new on-the-road, no-need-to-go-home American lifestyle—except those would be even more insidious because they'd appeal to children, if guys like Lou had anything to do with it (the inspiration for his "Scout's Honor" comic was "Underdog," which, like many other cartoons of the time, was used invariably to sell junk food to kids—below is one of many that sprouted up in GH that year).

So besides the stress of the computer, Ginsberg has the stress of coming up with tag lines that have to be right but can't be too creative or his boss will veto them—the same boss who is currently holding a secret weekend meeting next to the computer, during which he likely says the phrase "final solution" while Ginsberg reads his lips (a term Lou and Cutler have used to describe what they plan to do to Don; it's conveniently also a term Nazis used to refer to their plan to annihilate Jews). And Ginsberg's also the kind of guy who immerses himself in government conspiracy theories and anti-establishment literature—and he probably does so more than most at that time.

It's no coincidence that Weiner has altered Ginsberg's appearance through the years to resemble the most famous social sci-fi writer of that time period, whose 1969 novel described horrible incidents he experienced during World War II, and whose 1968 short story "Welcome to the Monkey House" somewhat resembles Ginsberg's ideas about the computer "turning everyone into homos."

Besides seeing 2001: A Space Odyssey, Ginsberg is surely watching films like Night of the Living Dead and TV shows like Star Trek and The Twilight Zone. And he is most likely reading books like this one:

His world view is informed by many different things, none of which match the pop culture world of Betty Francis, who glorifies the government's decision to stay in Vietnam and then goes to her bedroom to watch Gomer Pyle.

Ginsberg is merely trying to do what Kurt Vonnegut Jr. described once in a PBS Think Tank interview about Woodstock. It's what every other runaway of this time was doing—looking for a tribe.

Unfortunately, after going so far as to cut off his nipple to deal with the pressure (just look at his word choice the past few episodes, by the way, to catch the PTSD-related references: "They're trying to erase us"; "It's going to get us, one by one..."; "It's like a hydrogen bomb in my head"), Ginsberg is headed somewhere to join a tribe he never wanted to join. I hope for his sake, he's able to get out of it and express himself authentically without being labeled as a lunatic.

Because by the early 1970s, the fallout of the hippie movement would have many people feeling as such. Or at least feeling let down, or confused by what had happened. As Martha Bayles says in the PBS Think Tank interview about the concert we'll probably see by the end of this season, the largest gathering of runaways at that time, "I think [Woodstock] was a failed project because a lot of young people believed in peace and love, but they didn't have a very good guide as to what peaceful or loving actions really were. And it was very much about personal liberation and not very much about how to treat other people. How to treat other people became a very confused and chaotic issue for a lot of young people. Even if they weren't at Woodstock or they weren't at the extremes, there was a lot of moral confusion. And by moral confusion, I mean how to treat other people. And if you add in the toxic emotions that are brought about by drug abuse, you have a recipe for real disaster. And people who felt mistreated by their friends and their lovers and so forth in the '60s were always accused of having middle-class hangups, you know. 'Hey, you know, what's your problem? Why do you object to what I just did to you? You know, you're just hung up on middle-class morality.' And that affected a lot of people. I don't know how the polls would measure that, but that affected a lot of people."

Reminds me a bit of the scene where Don says he doesn't want anything, he just wants to go to bed. And Megan and her friend Amy from Delaware say, "What you need is more drugs."

It's a very different "tucking in" than Lou Avery offers him.

This week I'll be posting even more fashion and interior decor matchups (there were tons this time).

Until then, "I'm smart. I speak Italian."

American Tune by Paul Simon (1973)

Many's the time I've been mistaken,
And many times confused
And I've often felt forsaken,
And certainly misused.
But it's all right, it's all right,
I'm just weary to my bones
Still, you don't expect to be
Bright and bon vivant
So far away from home,
So far away from home.

I don't know a soul who's not been battered
Don't have a friend who feels at ease
Don't know a dream that's not been shattered
Or driven to its knees.
But it's all right, it's all right,
We've lived so well so long
Still, when I think of the road we're traveling on,
I wonder what went wrong,
I can't help it,
I wonder what went wrong.

And I dreamed I was flying.
I dreamed my soul rose unexpectedly,
And looking back down on me,
Smiled reassuringly,
And I dreamed I was dying.
And far above, my eyes could clearly see
The Statue of Liberty,
Drifting away to sea
And I dreamed I was flying.

We come on a ship we call the Mayflower,
We come on a ship that sailed the moon
We come at the age's most uncertain hour
And sing the American tune.
But it's all right, it's all right
You can't be forever blessed
Still, tomorrow's gonna be another working day
And I'm trying to get some rest,
That's all, I'm trying to get some rest.