Monday, April 2, 2012

When Writers Make the Past the Present

Quite recently, I blogged about Bill Maher's latest oxymoron - the one where he claims he could easily be a Republican if the Republican party were more like Goldwater or Reagan.

Pretty dumb, huh?

Friday evening, Bill's fourth panelist was Matthew Weiner, the creater of Mad Men. I have a bit of a problem with this program, which the Brits absolutely adore. I think the reason they adore it, is the subliminal reason we're seeing all the ugly things from the 1960s rear their heads (if they dare), otherwise they're presented as television shows, something pretty from the past when everyone could smoke in an office and when women wore girdles and every nice girl was a virgin or had to pretend to be. When black people knew their place and gays didn't dare venture outside the cultural closet in which they were imprisoned.

It's kinda Yankee-speak for all those Southerners who think the Civil War was like Gone With the Wind.

Anyway, during the course of Friday's Real Time, Weiner revealed himself to be a Democrat. In the latest Mad Men, there's a curious word-play that results in a deliberate overlapping of history as well as a clever dig at the current Republican front-runner.

Watch and learn:-

Harry Francis, a character, is a PR man working for then-New York City mayor John Lindsay. Toward the end of the clip, he's heard shouting into the phone:-

"Well, tell Jim his Honor's not going to Michigan. Because Romney's a clown and I don't want him standing next to him."

History lesson time.

Of course, the "Romney" of reference isn't Willard. Instead, it's his late father, George, the governor of Michigan. Previously, in the program, Harry Francis served as PR director of Governor Nelson Rockefeller. I know most people will find this hard to believe, but there used to be such a thing as liberal Republicans - GOPers who were fiscally conservative, whilst socially liberal. Rockefeller was certainly a liberal. George Romney was another one. And John Lindsay, who later joined the Democratic party, was a third. All three men were vehemently opposed to the direction in which Barry Goldwater and the Birchers wanted to take the Republican party.

The gist of all this, as The Atlantic points out, is that there would be no way in hell any PR man for John Lindsay - let alone, anyone who'd worked for Nelson Rockefeller - would have said what Francis said about George Romney.

This is historical licence. A malapropism. A writer taking advantage of the average American's ignorance of history in order to get a subtle shot at the presumptive Republican Presidential candidate. And while it's not as overtly ignorant as Sarah Palin reckoning that the current President wants to take us back to such a time where he would actually be a slave, it's still pretty naughty (only a bit more clever).

Or as The Atlantic article concludes:-

More likely than historical commentary, it's current-day punditry. While Weiner doesn't appear to have given money to President Obama, he's given nearly $9,000 over the last six years to Democratic causes, including the presidential campaigns of John Kerry and John Edwards and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, according to CQ Moneyline.

Which makes me beg the question, why isn't Matthew Weiner putting his money where his mouth is for our current Democratic President?

Perhaps he's another Mad Man nostalgic for the 1960s?

William Faulkner once said, in relation to the South, that there, the past isn't even the past. I guess that holds true for California and all points North and West also.

1 comment:

  1. Those guys were on the Real Time panel arguing that racism won't be a problem in the future because people of different races are mating more than they did in the past. I wish they would sit down and read some Mellisa Harris-Perry or Charles Mills if they have the stomach. They'll probably think the writers aren't talking about them(they're "liberals").

    Mitt's nothing like his dad. Hopefully he was too senile to see how his boy turned out before he died.