Mad Men, Mad World: Sex, Politics, Style & the 1960s

Edited by Lauren M.E. Goodlad, Lilya Kaganovsky, and Robert A. Rushing. Duke Univ., $27.95 (448p) ISBN 978-0-8223-5418-5
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One of the most critically acclaimed and culturally fetishized television shows of the past decade receives an intellectual deconstruction in this collection of academic essays. Sixteen entries address the broad range of historical, cultural, and philosophical elements of the series’ settings, situations, and characters. Collectively, they combat the show’s “altered... vision of the 1960s, and of pastness itself.” This is done most eloquently in Jeremy Varon’s piece, “History Gets in Your Eyes: Mad Men, Misrecognition, and the Masculine Mystique,” wherein he argues that the show is rooted in fantasy, and while the program “does not entirely escape the question of history,” it does miss “an opportunity to engage it more deeply.” Mabel Rosenheck asserts in “Swing Skirts and Swinging Singles: Mad Men, Fashion & Cultural Memory” that the show’s meticulous detail derives not from a desire to achieve historical accuracy but from a “contemporary negotiation of past and present and a representation of the performance of cultural memory.” Throughout the book are intelligent discussions dissecting the central themes addressed in the show, such as masculinity and feminism, identity, and race relations and representations. Perhaps too academic for the casual Mad Men fan, the book nevertheless accomplishes the admirable feat of offering considerable critique and examination from a standpoint of admiration and fandom. Photos. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/21/2013
Release date: 03/01/2013
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