dave eggers is giving a free lecture tonight at the illini union, and afterwards he is going to stop by illini media. he used to work for buzz and really wants to meet us all and see how things work now. so, um, that includes me.
that being said and considering this is the kind of blush-inducing, dizzying celebrity encounter writing obsessives dream of, i need to know a few things.
1. do i think of clever shit to say now? do i wing it? do i make comments about the lecture he will have given a few hours before? do i….ACT CASUAL?
i need to write more. NEED. i have been writing in a notebook almost everyday, just making myself sit in the same place and writewritewrite. it’s been good, successful, but what i need now are people to read, people to keep me writing. myself is only enough encouragment sometimes, and realizing that has been pretty important to my college degree as a whole, let alone to writing.
having said that, tumblr is not a good place to write everyday. it’s a poor format, and this just isn’t a long-text favoring site. that’s not a problem. i’ll use tumblr. i really like my tumblr. i will, however, also have THIS.
and don’t worry, when you lose this post, i’ll remind you guys with links to my other blog with my real writing. not just my reworking of news articles and comments on photos!
Above all, Mad Men stands out for its unflinching and unvarnished depiction of the racism and sexism its characters, along with their casual cruelty toward Jews, gays and lesbians, and disabled people. Not that everyone gets the point. Historian Beth Bailey notes how unsettling it is to realize that many viewers have embraced the show’s characters and period as the epitome of cool. Similarly, historian Steven Mintz, remarks on how easily cultural criticism can shade into nostalgia. But if we were to ask scriptwriters to ensure that no one ever likes the “wrong” characters for the “wrong” reasons, our art would be reduced to moral catechisms and didactic lessons rather than intelligent, complex drama. And intelligent, complex drama is what Mad Men delivers, along with a dose of very painful reality.
It is disturbing for those of us who remember the civil rights struggles of that era, for example, to note the absence of black characters in the show. Yet that is the historical reality of the milieu in which the series’ characters move—a world of privileged individuals who may be embarrassed by Roger Sterling’s blackface performance but lack any commitment to the struggle for equality, even when they hear about the murder of civil rights activists or see events involving black Americans on television. (Betty Draper says that perhaps the violence down South goes to show it isn’t time for civil rights yet, and though she dreams about Medgar Evers while sedated during childbirth, this seems to be more related to her own needs than to any sympathy for black activists.)
To most of the white protagonists of MadMen, black people exist only as backdrops to their own lives. The personal life and feelings of Carla, the Drapers’ black nanny, are of no interest to Betty, who summarily fired in the season finale. The ad agency employees who rode up and down with the black elevator operator from the first three seasons day either ignored him completely or made clumsy attempts at conversation that betrayed their total lack of exposure to blacks in any role except as servers. Even the two white men who have black girlfriends do not see them as individuals. To Paul Kinsey, the pompous copywriter of seasons past, having a black girlfriend seems mostly to advertise his hip liberalism (she dumps him during a civil rights sojourn in Mississippi). Englishman Lane Pryce’s “chocolate bunny,” in his cringe-inducing words, seems mainly a vehicle for him to further reject his British identity. But the racism in all this belongs to the place and period, not the scriptwriters.