Live-blogging continues at newcritics, as Tom Watson returns to lead us through the thickening of the plot on tonight's episode of Mad Men, 10 PM Eastern, 9 Central. Be there or be square, and speaking of squares...
One of the themes of the live-blogging discussions has been the Mad Men's lack of cool. They are awfully square for a group of young ad men in 1960. Where's the edginess, where's the energy, where's the beat of the bongos and the rhythms of the bossa nova? Who took the bop out of their bop shoo bop shoo bop?
Tonight we may find out as the Mad Men get down to work helping that ultimate square, Richard Nixon, run for President.
And here's the irony: While John Kennedy represented all that was cool, hip, edgy, and exciting about the time, Nixon was probably its truer representative. The squares were rising. A period of reaction was on the way. The culture, particularly pop culture, was headed for a crack-up. The hip and the square had come into being in the 1950s and they were travelling towards very different places, although they didn't always know it. One of the left over running jokes from then is the spectacle of the square trying to be hip. Which may explain one of the weirder cultural artifacts of the time, popular artists looking foolish trying to appeal to both sides.
Couple that with the other favorite theme of the live-bloggers, the question of the period's real attitudes towards women---just how sexist were people back then?---and you get Juke Box Baby.
I like Perry Como and he had his own brand of cool, but this isn't it. The director seemed to know it too. I like the way he divided the TV screen, with the hip on our left and the squares on our right, and Como seems to be aware that there's a joke underneath it all. But there's something very strange going on between Perry and the juke box baby, don't you think? What is she? Sixteen?
Oh well, it's got a great beat and you can dance to it.