In a thoughtful essay for Esquire, Tom Junod -- who penned the magazine's 2003 piece about the iconic photo of a man falling from the World Trade Center on Sept 11 -- weighs in on the mini-controversy surrounding Mad Men's newest promotional image. When AMC came out with its poster, which depicts a man falling against a white background with only the words "March 25" in the show's signature font, most people saw a reference to the show's opening sequence, but some saw an unnecessary visual evocation of 9/11. Junod sees both: the poster references the opening sequence which itself was always intended to speak to the "Falling Man" photo, and the show itself has always known the influence 9/11 had on its viewers:
You see, by that time it was clear ... the legacy of 9/11 was not going to be moral clarity but rather moral unease — an almost vertiginous sensation of the ground giving way beneath our feet, along with just about everything else. That sensation, alas, has never gone away, and it is what has been mined brilliantly by the makers of Mad Men. If, in 2003, America was finally able to look at a two year-old photograph suggesting that it had to revise what it thought it knew about how people died on 9/11, by 2007 it was primed to watch a prime-time melodrama suggesting that it had to revise what it thought it knew about how people lived in 1960.
Junod wonders whether there was ever any genuine outrage at the Mad Men promotional poster, and it'll be interesting to see whether his essay elicits any more. Either way, it's worth a read.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.