Race, Religion, and Rights: Otherness Gone Mad

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Date
2014-01-01
Authors
Lucht, Tracy
Lucht, Tracy
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Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication
Abstract

Inevitable yet often unnamed, the looming political radicalism of the late 1960s acts as something like a silent partner in the Mad Men narrative, relying on viewers' historical knowledge of the social tension outside Sterling Cooper to underscore the contrived nature of the world within it. Just as the series spans the period between the emergence of liberal and radical white feminist discourses, it also bridges key moments in the civil rights movement, from the boycotts, voter registration drives, and sweeping oratory of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., to the assassinations of civil rights leaders and activists; rioting in Watts and other cities; and the emergence of a black power movement. Historical hindsight lends dramatic tension to the Mad Men narrative, allowing the writers to focus their energies on character development. As series creator Matthew Weiner said: "I think there is a resonance to the kind of glory of that period, and the foreboding of what happened, that seems accentuated by the time that's passed in between. It didn't seem to be on anybody's mind then as it is now" (Tobias, 2008).

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This is a book chapter from Mad Men and Working Women: Feminist Perspectives on Historical Power, Resistance, and Otherness (2014): 142. Posted with permission.

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