Why I Wrote A Mad Men Episode With Negroes, by Erika Alexander

Discussion in 'TV & Media' started by Shaka Zulu, Apr 14, 2013.

  1. M'Sharak

    M'Sharak Definitely Herbert. Maybe. Moderator

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    Translation, pls?
     
  2. IndyJones

    IndyJones Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Now that's just not true.

    I believe there was a (short) subplot at the beginning of the last season. And Don Draper's secretary is black and is around regularly (remember the night she spent in Peggy's apartment last season?).
     
  3. the G-man

    the G-man Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Sterling Cooper Draper and Price. The extra D was supposed to be an ampersand. My apologies.
     
  4. the G-man

    the G-man Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    As others have noted the show is ultimately about Don. Don has a black secretary but it's also clear that Don is far from the most enlightened person. In the first episode he was sleeping with a Jewish woman while bragging to Roger he hadn't hired any "on [his] watch."

    Remember, the only reason he hired her was because: (a) he had an idea for exploiting the civil rights movement, resulting in a flood of unwanted job applications from black people; (b) Cooper and Sterling (whom you might remember parading around in blackface a party) figured making him hire her was comeuppance for Don's idea and/or for sleeping with and/or marrying the office staff.

    As you point out, the show is Don's story. Don is not someone inclined to associate socially with African Americans. It would be a betrayal of the character to do what you want.

    See above, re: Don.

    As for other characters, Pryce had an affair with a black woman while his wife was in England. Kinsey also dated a black woman for a while. So what you want has effectively already occurred.

    Furthermore, as touched upon above, Roger is an overt racist. Besides his antics in blackface he separates jews from "normal" people and made his feelings of contempt for the Japanese explicit to potential clients. He's more polished than, say, Archie Bunker, but about as unlikely to have an affair with a "Negro."

    And, to be frank, Peggy isn't much better. While she felt guilty about it, she hesitated leaving Don's secretary alone with a large sum of money.

    Ironically, of all the main characters, Pete is probably the least racist.
     
  5. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I remember a great little promo for David Schwimmer appearing as guest host on SNL - he's looking at the camera saying "Tune in on Saturday and see me do things I never do on 'Friends'" - whereupon the SNL cast member standing next to him says:

    "Like, talk to a black person?"

    :lol:

    American TV still manages a remarkable lack of diversity in shows set in contemporary NYC - particularly situation comedies, for some reason.
     
  6. sidious618

    sidious618 Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah, last season had more black people than the show had had in the past. This season Peggy has a black secretary as well.
     
  7. Roger Wilco

    Roger Wilco Admiral Admiral

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    The woman who wrote the editorial in the OP is completely correct, it's absolutely ridiculous how white US television is for the most part. But I agree with the people who said Mad Men is different.

    I think if they had major storylines about black people in that scenario, they would inevitably be much more sympathetic characters than the people the show is actually about, and that would distract from the storytelling.
     
  8. lurok

    lurok Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Didn't Woody Allen movies use to get a lot of grief for that as well?
     
  9. Ancient Mariner

    Ancient Mariner Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Sounds like a wonderful show.
     
  10. the G-man

    the G-man Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Actually, it is. The characters arent supposed to be avatars of virtue or tolerance, any more than the mobsters on the Sopranos were intended as role models.
     
  11. Shaka Zulu

    Shaka Zulu Commodore Commodore

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    The thing is, although I like Ms. Alexander`s script idea, I wish that she (and everybody else that keeps on harping about this) realize that Mad Men is a historical drama set in the 1960s; to be asking for a lot of people of color to be in this is asking the for shows like Downton Abbey to have the same when there weren`t a lot of interactions between people of color in England at the time the series was set (heck, there were barely any blacks in England at the time, IIRC.) Ms. Alexander need to just write and create her own show with POC`s in it (and ask for more in shows set in the present day) rather than harp on Mad Men for not having any POC`s in its cast.
     
  12. Australis

    Australis Writer Admiral

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    Often shows do a 'diversity' thing when it wasn't true to the times it's set in. True to times now, but not then.

    I can see the point in doing something that 'didn't happen', an alt universe take, But Mad Men isn't really that show.

    That's all I'm trying to say.
     
  13. Lord Garth

    Lord Garth Captain Captain

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    Current American TV is very white-washed, though.

    As far as Mad Men back in 2007, I was a little curious about the series but doubtful at the same time because of the backwards images that immediately popped into my mind.

    Then my brother told me I should watch the series. By then, I noticed all the critical acclaim it was getting and I decided to give the series a chance. This was in the middle of the second season in 2008. I was hooked.

    I looked up more about the series online and found out that Matt Weiner wanted to tell the story about a man in a turbulent decade and that we'd see the entirety of the 1960s.

    The very first episode takes place in March 1960. I realized that was no coincidence. And anyone who knows anything about the 1960s knows that it was a time of change. So, then I thought to myself, "I know where they're going with this..."

    As a result, it made it easier to sit through the backwardness because you're not supposed to like it. What also made it easier is that I knew things would change because, unlike the characters, I already know how that decade unfolds even though I never lived through it.

    Case in point: Don tells Roger in the first episode that no "Jews" have been hired on his watch. By the fifth season, they have a Jewish copyrighter who's the rising star who Don feels threatened by.

    Don's cheating also catches up with him when Betty not only finds out about it but also about his backstory and who he really was. It was too good of a story for Don not to get to caught, so that's something I also knew would eventually happen.

    Peggy, who started off as Don's secretary is now a Creative Director at a rival advertising firm. No I'm not spoiling Season 6 because that happened at the end of Season 5 and that's been out for a year.

    The formerly clean-cut office of Sterling Cooper is filled with facial hair now.

    Half of watching the show, for me, is anticipating what's going to happen because it has to happen and, by the end of the series, it's going to be completely the opposite of where the series started.

    And it's about how these characters react and how they adapt or don't adapt.
     
  14. gblews

    gblews Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Bigger racist characters than Don Draper have been shown crossing racial lines when the right woman comes along. Besides that, the drama that can sometimes be wrung out of a racist temporarily forgetting his or her racism for a hot piece can be quite dramatic indeed. Crossing racial lines wouldn't not be untrue to Don's character either. He is a hypocrite and this would be further proof.

    This is not something I pointed out. Don is the show's main protagonist but the show is also about other things which I did point out.
    Please don't continue thinking that racism prevents white guys from having affairs with black women. It only prevents some from having interracial affairs. Why do you think all those plantations had fair skinned slaves running around?
    Peggy is an even greater candidate for an interracial affair than Don. She is not so rigid in her thinking.

    One last thing, if I may reiterate, because you wrote something about what I "want". I'm not advocating the series include more blacks or other minorities. My only point is that if they wanted to go in that direction there is nothing having to do with the time the show is set in, the characters' personalities, or the business the characters are involved in stopping them.
     
  15. Guy Gardener

    Guy Gardener Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I'm watching Sports Night, almost completed the first season... This program is set in the distant past that was stupid enough to think that it was being filmed in the consistent present where all their righteousness would be above board and... There was an early episode where they were ranting about how drugs should be decriminalized because it's irresponsibly choking up the prison system unfairly, when about half an hour earlier I'd seen Colbert pin up a mission accomplished banner on the very subject as it became clear that weed is very soon about to be legal in all the US... But does that mean that the hundreds of thousands of kids in prison are going to be released or held because the law holding them is now non existent?

    Madmen on the other hand is a parody of history and not actually history, not that a story like Sports Night is anything but a parody of the present when it was made before it became a historical article of ancient times, parody or otherwise.

    My point?

    History is to laugh at.

    Idiots that don't know shit muddling through without grace.
     
  16. Gaith

    Gaith Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Ugh, haven't we got enough present-day set shows already?

    I'm sure there are tons of great black American-centric historical dramas left to make.
     
  17. Guy Gardener

    Guy Gardener Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    How about an alternate history where the Negroes won the War of Independence?

    I know that they were not oficially involved but that's why the Borg went back in time and struck Earth straight after World War III when they were too bloodied up already for a new fight.

    Either...

    A. The slaves sold out to the British Thrown in return for homerule of America.

    B. 10 seconds after the British lose, Washington gets a hatchet to the back of his head because the colonies are in no shape to stand up to popular uprising at that exact point.

    C. A coalition of African nations invades America to get all their kidnapped cousins back, rape and pillage everything and then plant their flag. Just imagine all these white people in pantaloons being thrown onto huge bonfires of crispy screaming white people.
     
  18. gblews

    gblews Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    No more, please. The sheer stupidity of this post is positively breathtaking.
     
  19. Guy Gardener

    Guy Gardener Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    A little stupider and you'd hyperventilate, even a little stupider and I'd kill you.

    Not on purpose mind you.

    I don't have a good reason to kill you, but if I did it's nice to know that I could probably get away with murdering you if all I have to do is keep talking until your eyes roll back.

    Fuck.

    I could be a hit man.

    Make some serious bank.

    A silent killer.

    Well not silent like a ninja.

    Not silent at all, but it would take a Poirotian genius to associate my gobshit to any existing series of bloody murders.
     
  20. Gaith

    Gaith Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Well, one could posit a scenario in which a slave ship unknowingly imports an African virus that decimates as many Europeans as the European viruses did Native Americans... leaving the former slaves and occasional already-free blacks in control of the few remaining whites.

    This could perhaps explain the world of White Man's Burden.