Phi Beta Cons

Mad Nonsense

I was recently reminded of the scene in Mad Men in which the meticulously dressed Draper family enjoys an irenic picnic together in a beautiful suburban park. When the picnic is over and the family is ready to leave, mother Betty gathers their considerable load of trash and tosses it to the winds, letting it float all over the immaculate grassy lawn. When I first read about this scene months ago, it sounded preposterous to me, and it looked even more preposterous when I finally caught up with the series on DVD.

Plus, I learned that Betty is supposed to be a graduate of Bryn Mawr, in anthropology, no less. Honestly, this level of littering in a pristine suburban park, which, according to the givens of the series is probably located in well-off Westchester County (the Elysian Fields, if you grew up in the Bronx), would be unimaginable for even a high-school dropout of those days. But for a snooty, perfectly groomed Seven Sisters graduate?

This may seem like a trivial point, but it is important to expose the intense propaganda of today’s television shows, designed to make us present-day people feel superior to those in the past, so we will be more content with the chaos of the postmodern, post-countercultural world we now inhabit. And it should also alert us to more serious fabrications and veritable snow-jobs, such as those concerning the condition of women.