Monday, August 23, 2010

It's a mad mad world

One of the reasons why I like the 1960's era television show "Mad Men" is the way it exposes humanity's hubris. Humankind has a tendency to look down upon the follies of previous generations, rarely questioning which follies they will be known for in the near future. I love the gasps as "Mad Men" characters drink cocktails while visibly pregnant, a mother sits in the front seat of a car with an infant in her arms and no seat belt, or children play with dry cleaner bags over their heads. I gasp too. I think of fetal alcohol syndrome, the strength of a mother's grip vs. the velocity of a baby in a forward car collision, and how easily small children could become disoriented while suffocating. I don't have any moral reactions to these behaviors, but I am not used to seeing them in these "enlightened" times.

These anachronisms are fun, but I think the most striking thing about setting the program in the recent past is that the despite our progenitors stupidity about certain things, they were every bit as vigilant as we are now about their particular causes. Their causes seem foreign to us -- "T zones," careerism, machismo, communists -- but I think we can related to fact that they're choking on these artificial restraints on their behavior and beliefs just as much as their toddlers were choking on plastic bags. Maybe part of us realizes that in another 30 years we'll be laughing at people using cell phones (brain cancer) and think it's odd that our pets didn't have legal rights (why don't they?), but that doesn't keep most people from remaining blissfully unaware of the tenuous foundations on which their fragile lives rest. It's amazing to me how effective for most people a suburban white picket fence is at keeping out life's demons. Not like I'm much better. Instead of the picket fence, I choose to keep my demons on more of a large, open ranch, figuratively speaking, but I understand that it is basically a matter of preference.

6 comments:

  1. and that as what to do with what?

    ReplyDelete
  2. How some of our culture and norms have changed over the generations. But what hasn't changed much is how we live in denial of how mental we still are..we just change the scenery so to speak. That's my take on it.

    Grace

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'd say Grace is right.

    I don't have much to say, but I like this post.

    "but that doesn't keep most people from remaining blissfully unaware of the tenuous foundations on which their fragile lives rest. It's amazing to me how effective for most people a suburban white picket fence is at keeping out life's demons."

    ... or keeping them locked in and constantly wandering around in the back yard.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The recent firebombing of a Tennessee mosque is another good example of how little things have changed even in developed nations.

    ReplyDelete

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