Jon Hamm predicted Don Draper’s future career moves

20 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Mad Men’ finale: How did that Coke commercial get made?.

After AMC’s hit show Mad Men took its final bow on Sunday, fans took to the Internet to debate the meaning of its ambiguous ending (caution: spoilers ahead). The “Mad Men” finale on Sunday (May 17) has touched off more media interest and speculation about what it meant than any other series conclusion since “The Sopranos” called it quits eight years ago.In the last episode of 30 Rock, when Tina Fey’s Liz Lemon was trying to convince her boss, Jack (Alec Baldwin), not to sail away and abandon his life, one of the ways she tempted him to stay was by asking, “Don’t you want to know how Mad Men ends?” Now, we all know, since the acclaimed series Mad Men ended after seven seasons on Sunday night in the US (and on Monday in Israel), and the finale had an uncanny resemblance to that Liz-Jack exchange.Jon Hamm, the actor who played disenchanted advertising executive Don Draper on AMC’s Mad Men, has offered his thoughts on the meaning behind the ambiguous ending to the series finale. The final scene shows ad man Don Draper smiling blissfully at a spiritual retreat in California before cutting to the iconic Coca-Cola “Hilltop” ad from 1971.

The show brought so much back for me: everyone smoking like chimneys; the physically uncomfortable bullet bras, girdles, hoop skirts and hair rollers; the rigid social rules that made any fate for women other than married with children suspicious and pitiable — all true for all white women. Some commenters have argued that the ad signals Draper’s escape from the clutches of Madison Avenue—and his role as a “Mad Man”—just as the ad world has begun using countercultural emblems to help sell its wares. While “Mad Men” hinted that the jingle was the brainchild of Don Draper, the show’s amoral lead character, The New York Times found its composer, Bill Backer, who helped create the ad when he worked for the McCann Erickson agency. After a strange interlude in the Midwest in last week’s episode in which angry veterans accused Don of stealing and beat him – which he accepted meekly, in a kind of atonement for the guilt behind his theft of the identity of his commander in the Korean War, a choice that has haunted him throughout the series – he hit the road.

He gives an enlightened smile, then a final ding is heard before the famous 1971 Coca-Cola ad, I’d Like to Buy The World a Coke, also known as Hilltop, plays. Others have taken a more cynical view: that Draper will mine the experience to create the iconic commercial. “The next day, he wakes up in this beautiful place, and has this serene moment of understanding, and realizes who he is.

The final episode opened in Utah, where he raced cars in the Salt Flats, but when he spoke to his daughter Sally (Kiernan Shipka) back in New York and learned that his ex-wife Betty (January Jones) was dying of lung cancer, he headed, not for home to console his children, but for California. And he discouraged any attempts to identify him as the inspiration for Draper, saying, “I’m not Don Draper.” Backer wasn’t the only person connected with the song who didn’t see the finale. Like Betty, their lives were entirely domestic, revolving around their children, shopping, orderly home management, personal grooming, cards and/or book clubs. Anna, the widow of the man whose identity he stole, lived there until her death from cancer, and he has always maintained a tenuous connection to her family, mainly Stephanie, her hippie niece who was still living in Anna’s home.

The tune, incidentally, was originally called “True Love and Apple Pie,” Billboard said, adding that Greenaway had been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2009. My mother seemed perfectly happy with her lot, but I can see why many of her bored peers, denied individual routes to satisfaction, welcomed Betty Friedan’s 1963 The Feminine Mystique as the “Aha!” moment of their lives. There, he hit a low point, and actually started to connect to the kind of encounter sessions which set the tone for the Seventies, and which Tom Wolfe speared mercilessly in his essay, The Me Decade. The article said they created record labels for which they recruited young singers who would become superstars, including Aretha Franklin, Mary Wilson, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, and the group that acquired the name the Four Tops.

I said as much in an email exchange about Mad Men with my friend Paul Nathanson, a cultural historian and co-author (with Katherine Young) of a prodigiously researched series of books on misandry. I would have expected Don to be skeptical, as he was when he sparred verbally with the bohemian friends of Midge, one of his mistresses, in the series’ early seasons, but he eventually embraced the emotionalism. Hamm also spoke about the effect of filming some of the final scenes away from the castmates he had worked so closely with over the past several years. “To be set adrift for the last few weeks, really experiencing that aloneness, that self-exile that Don was experiencing, it was very disorienting, which hopefully played,” Hamm said. “It was thematically kind of perfect. He moved into advertising and created music for commercials touting the products of such corporate giants as Nabisco, Sony, Miller Beer and Campbell’s soup, The Message said.

Most men of the era didn’t wear well-cut suits to work, but uniforms for their jobs in factories or mines “and considered themselves lucky if they could support themselves and their families as they were expected to do” (families being bigger then as well as dependent on a single salary), with failure to do so costing them extreme stress and humiliation. Everybody picks up and thinks, oh, that’s too bad – that guy had a nervous breakdown.” Even though the series has ended, Hamm reminded fans that it was not the end for its characters. This ending will likely be talked about as much as the unexpected finish to the previous series on which Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner worked as a writer/ producer, The Sopranos. For all the men’s “privilege” over Betty and Joan, Betty and Joan, deploying their own strategic wiles — in Joan’s case deeply feminine wiles — do survive and triumph, do retain their ability to love.

One aspect of this frenzy of both speculation and leave-taking was that many people wrote personal articles about how the series mirrored their lives: I counted three pieces with the theme “I am Sally Draper.” Not to belabor the point, but that goes for me as well, although I am several years younger than the character of Don Draper’s spirited, rebellious and confused daughter. Perhaps men like Don Draper (for whose PTSD there was no understanding or support) felt, and perhaps understandably felt, they had earned some rewards for their wartime service to America’s women and children. Likewise, many women in their “comfortable concentration camps,” as Betty Friedan shamefully labelled the suburbs, were pleased as punch to be there. Later, my father worked at Fortune Magazine, which was located in the rather portentously named Time & Life building (an episode in Season Seven was named Time & Life), where the Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Pryce Agency was situated for many years.

If there was a “problem that has no name” amongst America women, it was a problem afflicting a small, white, well-off, educated heterosexual collective. Mad Men was a Proustian return to childhood for people who grew up in the Sixties, an era that has never been captured on film or video so evocatively. And though Peggy and Joan struggled to break through the glass ceiling, there were other women, in other fields, like Rachel Menken, the confident department store heiress deferred to by every man at Sterling Cooper, who handled inherited power with competence and aplomb. When Jennifer Getzinger, who was one of Mad Men’s directors (among the episodes she directed were the extraordinary The Suitcase in Season 4 and the Season 5 opener), visited Israel in 2013 for the Cinema of the South Festival in Sderot, I spoke to her about Weiner’s meticulousness, his conviction that every detail mattered. Which made Peggy’s declaration to potential boyfriend Abe Drexler that her lot as a woman — unable to join the tennis and golf clubs where men advanced their careers — was similar to the lot of Negroes, jolting, revisionist and seemingly out of character.

But the series is much more than nostalgia, which Don told us in the finale of Season One means, in Greek, “the pain from an old wound.” It’s an incisive look at how the world changed during the Sixties. As Don said, “Change is neither good nor bad, it simply is.” We can look at that world now, where drinking, smoking, sexual harassment and napping were accepted parts of office life, with anger, disgust, envy or fascination, but we can never go back. Betty Draper’s inimitable parenting style – in one of her earliest scenes, she catches her five-year-old daughter with a drying cleaning bag over her head and is only concerned that the girl may have left the clothes on the floor – can make us shudder, but it was an era where parents did not worry as much about their children, for better and worse, and where the children had much more freedom. What binds the more formal and repressed era of the early Sixties to the later, freewheeling period is still the capitalism that held the country together.

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