If you haven't seen the most recent episode and are worried about spoilers, just stop right now. OK. Fair the warned, says I.


I've been holding back on Mad Men talk because I have a fairly lengthy piece I'm thinking about posting about Don Draper, passing and the black experience. But save that for another day. I want to know what people thought of that rape scene. I'm a guy who thinks Hollywood is too violent. Not like "Think about the children!" violent. I don't buy that crap. My concern is story, story, story, story. I think movies and TV often lean on sensational acts of violence and sex to camouflage their story flaws. Rape scenes especially disturb me. I made the mistake of watching Derailed a gratuitously violent movie with a senseless rape scene in it. I wish I could have those hours of my life back. I basically agree with Anthony Lane (my favorite critic working, and a master of language) on this:

We have, it is clear, reached the lively dead end of a process that was initiated by a fretful Martin Scorsese and inflamed, with less embarrassed glee, by Tarantino: the process of knowing everything about violence and nothing about suffering.

That said, if I love you as a story-teller, I will watch you do anything. I can take viscous violence as story-telling. I can't take it for show. Anyway, I thought the rape of Joan was one of the must agonizing scenes I've watched in recent memory--agonizing in a great way. Kenyatta on the other hand was extremely disturbed by it--in a bad way. Something about it really bothered her--she feels like they're actively punishing Joan. I would be more sympathetic to that if there weren't other women on the show, and other women who were sexual. I think they're saying something about the limits of sex as power. I can't help but to juxtapose Joan (and to some extent Bobby) with Peggy, who has grown in stature and is on the brink of passing all the junior people in the office.

It's like in the past women were limited in how they could show power--limited to ways that basically affirmed what a men were comfortable with. Joan is threatening to men in a way that can be squelched--as we regrettably saw. But Peggy scares--or is starting to scare--the hell out of the men in the office, and they have no idea what to do about it. How can they stop her, short of killing her? Isn't this about the limits of an "old" sort of power as compared with a "new" power that women have access to? And yet what gives Peggy her foot in the door is her insights as women--remember Belle Jolie?

A lot of this is me just talking. I'd love to hear from some women fans of the show. I could be off my rocker. But I do love the show. This will not be popular, but I think it's first two seasons are as good as the first two seasons of The Wire.

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