It’s a mad, mad, mad world
While I was disconnected to writing for way too long, in that interim, two unbelievable examples of the human species became power centers, one on either side of the world. Can you say narcissist? And that’s not even the worst of it. That’s me being kind for a change. Sadly but inevitably, the worlds around these all-powerful leaders shifted and morphed as well. Transient change, one hopes. Hope is a beautiful thing even if it does tend to trick your mind sometimes.
It was so dispiriting to watch and experience these worlds to the point that a few weeks ago, I decided I had enough disgust to last a lifetime (mostly in the Western hemisphere). I needed a timeout – a self-imposed news embargo, from the interminable news cycles that were spinning out of control. I found that giving up my news addiction was an unexpectedly easy habit to form. That’s saying something for a (recovering) news junkie. There was no more devouring of news of any kind except for my daily ten minutes of skimming the headlines of The Times. Especially no more TV news channels, the kind with talking heads, 24 x 7. And amazingly, nothing drastic happened. My life continued. And, if anything, I gained back a modicum of peace of mind and a better quality of life.
So then I began to have this gap hour every evening where I suddenly had the freedom to explore my options. I could read I suppose but I already had other reading stints during my day and night. I could spend more time checking out stuff on my smartphone, but I am smart enough to know that it was only making an idiot out of me.
Switch instead to binge worthy streaming content and a whole new world opened up. Depending on the show, it was some combination of messy, real, fantastical, down-to-earth, historical, contemporary, futuristic, melodramatic, creepy, funny, sad, mad and more. Pure delightful, sometimes disturbing, concoctions that had to be forcefully (if not always successfully) controlled from becoming binge consumption to bite sized entertainment. After too many hours of working, I had found a safe haven of fiction that kept me away from the real news of the day helping to restore my sanity and relax my mind at the same time, even if only for an hour each evening.
And that’s how I finally got around to watching one of the olden goldies of episodic content – the brilliantly produced, Mad Men series. It goes back a long time, all the way to 2007 when the series first aired. That’s ancient for this kind of popular content and I was only now getting to see what all that excitement had been about.
No, not dreamy Jon Hamm. Although, that one is incredibly….talented! 😉 The entire show (and I’m only done with the first season) is so very well done. And as I savored each moment of each episode, rationing myself to one a day, I realized something obvious that was also rather profound.
We have come a long way. Baby.
Mad Men is set in the world of advertising of Madison Avenue, circa 1960. To give an idea, here’s a description of Episode 1 of Season 1: New York City, 1960s. In the ego-driven Golden Age of advertising, everyone is selling something and nothing is what it seems.
This show pulls you in right from that beginning and doesn’t want to let you go.
On the one hand, I was thoroughly delighting in the engrossing drama and entertaining art of it all. And on the other, I watched in horror the deplorable behavior of men and the abuse that women of those times were putting up with it. In the series, I watched the incessant smoking, the three martini “business” lunches, the business men, the advertising executives (all men), the power brokers (all men), the creative directors (all men), the copywriters (men again), the secretaries and typists (all women) and the amazingly, deeply unequal relationship between the sexes, both at home and work. Blatant abuse of women by men, and the acceptance of the abuse by the women was the normal. This was 1960…not that far back in the scheme of things. Truly. Unbelievable.
And that’s when it struck me…as bad and broken as things seem in today’s world with today’s gross headlines, there is still reason to hope and reason to be grateful about real progress. For instance, even in the short time that the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have been around, more powerful men and influential industry luminaries than we ever saw in that series have lost their careers and reputations as their depraved behavior was exposed. Our tolerance level for this bad behavior is at an all time low and continues to decrease. As of October 2018, 201 powerful men had been brought down by the movement, and more than half their replacements were women. And in the 2018 midterm elections, there were a record 36 new women voted into Congress. This would have been unheard of in the mad world of the ’60s. Secretaries and typists only? Ha.
We have come a long way, baby. Indeed we have.
So, if you feel like me about the sad current state of things, don’t let a couple of temporarily powerful, odious, divisive leaders (parading as human) come in the way of all that has been accomplished by the good. That doesn’t mean I’m ready to watch the nightly news yet. But when all is said and done, good trumps evil over time.
Wait for it.
Angela Natividad [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D
RibaX [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D