Mad Men

I’ve not spoken about film for a long time because the films coming out nowadays are rubbish. With their juvenile humour and the supererogatory “special effects” that draw attention away from the plot or story, films today seem targeted to teenaged boys.

These rubbish films are English-language films. It’s entirely possible, then, that foreign-language films of today are not rubbish films. My attention was incidentally drawn the other day to a foreign-language film – in this case, Italian – that’s just come out, called *La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty)*. The promotional trailer and reviews bespeak that La Grande Bellezza will be my cup of tea should I see it.

When I spoke of rubbish English-language films, I might as appropriately have said “rubbish American films”, for most English-language films are American, and therefore rubbish. While there are still English-made English-language films, they’ll necessarily be rubbish too, because they must conform to American tastes if their makers wish to make any money. In fact, most viewers of English English-language films will be American because there are now six times more American men than Englishmen.

Consider also that most of today’s big stars in English cinema act in American films. So adept are they in doing American accents, you don’t even know they’re English if you see them in these rubbish American films.

So pervasive is American culture generally in the English-speaking world, your average young Englishman of today is little more than an imitation American. In 1895 when I was born – when the sun never set on the British Empire, when the Englishman was still an Englishman – you would have been laughed at, or better still beaten up, had you even murmured that the Englishman would one day become an imitation American.

While American films of today are rubbish, this cannot be said of many of the long-running television serials that you see on those speciality American TV channels. I confess to have become an addict of one of these long running serials. It’s called “Mad Men”, and has been running so far for six years. I have a DVD boxed set of it that I got just recently, and I can hardly wait to play the next episode.

If you don’t know of “Mad Men”, it’s about the goings-on in a large American advertising agency, situated on New York’s Madison Avenue. It’s set in the very early 1960’s, and its lead character, Don Draper, is a man who lives under a false identity. Don must therefore be most careful what he says about himself to anyone – even to his wife and children, who don’t know who he really is. I suspect he may also be wanted by the police, although I don’t absolutely know this yet because I’m still only on Mad Men’s third season.

Why my fascination for “Mad Men”, and particularly for Don Draper? No doubt in part, it’s because I myself live under a false identity, and was, (and may still be) wanted by the police everywhere. Should my identity be discovered and I be caught, I face the gallows because I killed several men, although I feel I had good reason to. However, the Law would likely see this otherwise should I be brought to trial.

So, like Don Draper, I must always be careful what I say of myself to anyone. I must always be on guard and can never be truly myself except when I’m alone. My only means of heartfelt expression, albeit epistolary, is through the anonymity of this blog. Without it I would go mad.

As careful as I am on those few occasions today when I’m in the company of others, I can never know if whoever I’m speaking with isn’t an undercover policemen – or an undercover policewoman. For all I know, the beautiful blonde waitress *at the sports bar* I like to drink in – whom I’m contemplating asking to my little home for a night of love – could be an undercover policewoman sent to entrap me.

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4 comments on “Mad Men

  1. Man of Roma says:

    Not all American films are rubbish. I recently discovered that a high percentage with review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes corresponds more or less to a decent film, according to my taste. Although, yes, I generally prefer European films. I guess it is beacuse I am European. This could be a subjective factor.

  2. Jeremy says:

    Then, how about that most American films are rubbish, with the non-Hollywood ones the honourable exceptions?!!

  3. Man of Roma says:

    There is a discussion here on why most of Hollywood movies are garbage. It may be a British discussion and it might interest you.

    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20070112071415AAD9T6s

    My two cents opinion. I agree with many of the things said, among which:

    “They like to play it safe since so much money is involved” which probably favours low quality.

    In America they believe market is all. But, as for ‘culture’, some state (government, institutions etc.) help could be necessary to raise the level of art and intelligence in entertainment (help more or less provided in France, Italy, the UK, Germany etc.). I know this may sound blasphemous to market fundamentalists.

  4. Jeremy says:

    Thank you for this link. I agree with most of the sentiments expressed.

    But, what no-one said, is that the best American writing and creative talent in the celluloid medium is now directed at television.

    Think of long-running dramas like “The Sopranos”, that the Guardian said was the best drama ever done on television. While I never watched “The Sopranos”, I did watch “Six Feet Under”, that I thought superb. Now there’s “Mad Men”, that I think even more superb.

    So, Americans are still producing marvellous “films”. However, these “films”, these long-running ones, are being made – not for the cinema theatre, with its clientele the slack-jawed young – but, rather, for subscription television, with its clientele of the more discerning.

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