Thursday, February 9, 2017

I Didn't Endorse Mad Men Boy-Men When I Posted So Rare

Once, about ten years ago, during a long and lingering illness I did something I seldom did, I turned on cable TV and watched something other than news or the French station out of Sherbrooke, Quebec.  The program was one of those sleazy cabloid shows about crime, the kind of stuff that A&E went to when they figured low grade trash appealing to a bigger, stupider audience was more profitable and cheaper to produce and buy than art or subtantial entertainment.   I was watching this stuff and I suddenly realized they were going through these really awful crimes and they were pointing out what the murderers did that clued the cops into how to catch them.  I was wondering how many people in the audience, aspiring serial murderers (male sex murderers, most of them) could watch those as both inspirations and how-to instruction movies in how to kill people in ways grisly and sadistic enough to make cabloid crap out of and how to not make the same mistake that their heroes made which got them caught.   I have no doubt that there is an audience other than the one that is supposed to be watching these things, the audience that sees the role of the killer as desirable and who would love the kind of notoriety or, as they see it, fame, that being a depraved murderer gets some guy.  We know that kind of attention is a motive for some murderers, that's been known for centuries.  Before my stupidest trolls get going, I'm not the only one who has pointed this out. *

There is always the possibility of another audience than the one the movie and TV reviewers belong to, the one within the normal range of mental health who might be a soft on depravity as entertainment but doesn't make it a main feature of their personality.  And it's not just people who aspire to fame as a sadistic sex murderer or serial killer getting their reinforcement and lessons and encouragement from the cabloid sewers, lots of personality disorder short of being criminal is encouraged by entertainment.  That lesson got reinforced for me the other day after I posted a music video.

When I posted that recording of the singer Don Cherry singing So Rare the other night, I had no idea that it could be considered an endorsement of sexism and racism.  I wasn't aware that one of his major hits,  Band of Gold, was an icon of retrograde misogynistic, racist straight-white-male supremacy through its use in the series Mad Men, a series I saw about twenty minutes of before the misogynistic-straight-white-male heroes of it made me glad that we were supposed to have been past that.  I'm old enough to remember when the song was on hit-radio, just barely, and I associated it with nothing like the Mad Men mentality.  What was called to my attention was the comment threadage at You-tube in which men, most of them far too young to remember the early 1960s, some of whose fathers were probably too young to remember them but who, apparently, learned to yearn for those last years before the civil rights movement, second wave feminism and the LGBT rights movements all too temporarily made it NOT a misogynistic-straight-white-man's world of the kind that so much of the pop music, TV and movies of the time had as their substrate.   YOU might not have gotten that from that series but, reading and retching through several comment threads on the topic, it's clear that lots of baby-men did get that from it.  I can imagine all of them voted for Trump.  And that got me thinking about a number of TV shows that were produced around that period, most of them not as long lasting as Mad Men, the one about Pan Am airlines, the one about Playboy, that presented a really awful period of American culture in terms that could be taken as a glorification of straight-white-male supremacy.  

I don't think Don Cherry, who I last noticed working with the estimable Willie Nelson, after all, was that retrograde.  At least that's not what I got from his music.  Him being a notable golfer, well, that would give me more pause in that way than any of his songs I remember.   I looked at his current website (he's still with us in his 90s) and he admits that he was something of an asshole back then, as so many white-straight-good-looking jocks are. I certainly wasn't supporting any of the associations his music got from being featured on Mad Men.   I was impressed with the quality of his voice and his way with the song.  It's not even my favorite song, I'd listened to the legendary saxophone solo of Jimmy Dorsey in his final recording of his career and noticed Don Cherry's version of it.  I almost posted the Mills Brothers' version but I figured Cherry's was probably less known.

My question is what role those retrograde TV shows and other pop culture have played in creating the Trump vote.   Reading the sexist, racist, queer bashing assholes on the comment threads surrounding such stuff, anyone who doesn't think those, coming when they did, played a role in that backlash are just plain stupid.

* Note:  I wrote about this at the time of the mass murder of the Amish school girls.

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