‘I’d Rather Be Peggy than Betty’: Female Audience Responses to Mad Men
The music starts and a graphic animation of a businessman enters an office. Suddenly everything starts to dissolve: the man loses his grip and starts falling from the top of a skyscraper. The fall is accompanied by the abundant adverts covering the building. Most of them are women’s products and tell us about a powerful, new target: the new woman. After all, these are the sixties, and the times, as everybody knows, they are a-changin’. So the man falls and nothing seems to stop him. But relax — we are told. The freefall was just a bad dream; suddenly the man is again in his office, relaxed, smoking a cigarette. After some episodes enjoying these opening credits, the audience will recognise Don Draper, creative genius of fictional ad agency Sterling Cooper, as the man who falls and then lights a cigarette as if nothing had happened. And viewers will learn that the fiction is taking them to a time when the reign of the white male is still in force. That is what Mad Men, successful AMC historical drama, is about: the joy of the white male hegemony just before its decline. Or to put it in other words: the fun display of bad habits, negligent parenting, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and many other vices of the time.
KeywordsFocus Group Sexual Harassment Popular Culture Feminist Issue Modern Woman
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