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Paul Levinson's Open Salon Blog

Paul Levinson

Paul Levinson
Location
New York City, New York, USA
Birthday
March 25
Title
Professor
Company
Fordham University
Bio
Paul Levinson's The Silk Code won the 2000 Locus Award for Best First Novel. He has since published Borrowed Tides (2001), The Consciousness Plague (2002), The Pixel Eye (2003), and The Plot To Save Socrates (2006). His science fiction and mystery short stories have been nominated for Nebula, Hugo, Edgar, and Sturgeon Awards. His eight nonfiction books, including The Soft Edge (1997), Digital McLuhan (1999), Realspace (2003), and Cellphone (2004), have been the subject of major articles in the New York Times, Wired, the Christian Science Monitor, and have been translated into ten languages. New New Media, exploring how Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and blogging have changed our lives, was published in September 2009. Paul Levinson appears on "The O'Reilly Factor" (Fox News), "The CBS Evening News," the “NewsHour with Jim Lehrer” (PBS), “Nightline” (ABC), and numerous national and international TV and radio programs. He reviews the best of television in his InfiniteRegress.tv blog. Paul Levinson is Professor of Communication & Media Studies at Fordham University in New York City

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MAY 28, 2012 1:14AM

Mad Men 5.11: Prostitution and Power

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Masterful Mad Men 5.11 tonight had not one but two blockbuster stories, each about one of the two leading women on the show.  In both cases, the results were among the most profound and game-changing we've seen not only this season, but in the entire series.

Advertising as a profession could be considered a kind of prostitution - selling your creative soul to your client - but tonight that becomes literally true as the Jaguar client (or, actually, a major car dealer who is one of three who will make the decision as to what ad company will get the Jaguar campaign) lets Pete and Ken know that he'd be much more inclined to go with our crew if he could spend a night with Joan - in bed.  Pete brings this to Joan, who laughs in his face, and rhetorically adds that the company couldn't afford to pay her what she'd want for something like this.  That's enough to get Pete to call a partners' meeting.

The response of the partners is a keen tableau of where each man  is at.  Don, showing again that he has a well a decency in his core, walks out of the meeting, saying their ad proposal will be strong enough to get Jaguar.  Roger, showing again how despicable he can be, has no problem with offering Joan to the dealer.  It's not, by the way, that Don is always decent and Roger is always despicable.  Indeed, it's never knowing for sure where each man will go - with his decent or despicable side - that makes Mad Men so interesting.  Morse has no problem with making Joan an offer to do this, as long as it's made clear to her that she doesn't have to do it  if she doesn't want to.  And Lane, knowing there are no funds to offer Joan any money, cleverly gets her to ask for five-percent of the company - to become a partner.


Mad Men has dealt some great parallels in personal and professional lives this year, and tonight's was especially evocative.  The Jaguar tag-line that Ginsberg comes up with and Don pitches is that Jaguar is the one beautiful thing that a man could really own.  And owning Joan for a night is the price Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Price, etc have to pay in order to land Jaguar.  Except Draper doesn't want that, but Joan does - or, at least, she wants being a partner enough to spend the significant part of the night with the Jaguar dealer.

And as Joan moves up in the organization, Peggy moves out.  Don, decent about Joan, is as insensitive and rude as ever to Peggy.  She comes up on no notice with an account winning line for  Chevalier cologne - it was Ginsberg's account, but he wasn't around - and seeks some appreciation from Don.  What she gets is Don saying Ginsberg can go to Paris, and when she complains, Don literally throws some money in her face and says here, go to Paris.

This sets in motion a short chain of events that leads to Peggy taking an offer with Sterling et al's main competitor.  Given Joan's ascension to partnership, Peggy would likely not have been too happy with our company in any case, making this development an especially smooth piece of story line.

A story of two women.  Each seizing on opportunity to move up in their world, in which most of the cards are seriously stacked against them.  More power to both of them.

See also Mad Men Season 5 Debut: It's Don's Party  ... Mad Men 5.3: Heinz Is On My Side ... Mad Men 5.4: Volunteer, Dream, Trust ... Mad Men 5.5: Ben Hargrove ... Mad Men 5.6: LSD Orange ... Mad Men 5.7: People of High Degree ... Mad Men 5.8: Mad Man and Gilmore Girl ... Mad Men 5.9: Don's Creativity  ... Mad Men 5.10: "The Negron Complex"

And from Season 4: Mad Men 4.1: Chicken Kiev, Lethal Interview, Ham Fight ... 4.2: "Good Time, Bad Time?" "Yes." ... 4.3: Both Coasts ... 4.4: "The following program contains brief nudity ..."  4.5: Fake Out and Neurosis ... 4.6: Emmys, Clio, Blackout, Flashback  ... 4.7: 'No Credits on Commercials' ... 4.8: A Tale of Two Women ... 4.9: "Business of Sadists and Masochists" ... 4.10: Grim Tidings ... 4.11: "Look at that Punim" ... 4.12: No Smoking!  ... Mad Men Season 4 Finale: Don and -

And from Season 3: Mad Men Back for 3 and 3.2: Carvel, Penn Station, and Diet Soda and 3.3: Gibbon, Blackface, and Eliot and 3.4: Caned Seats and a Multiple Choice about Sal's Patio Furniture and 3.5: Admiral TV, MLK, and a Baby Boy and 3.6: A Saving John Deere and 3.7: Brutal Edges ... August Flights in 3.8 ... Unlucky Strikes and To the Moon Don in 3.9 ... 3.10: The Faintest Ink, The Strongest Television ... Don's Day of Reckoning in Mad Men 3.11 ... Mad Men 3.12: The End of the World in Mad Men ... Mad Men Season 3 Finale: The End of the World

And from Season Two: Mad Men Returns with a Xerox and a Call Girl ... 2.2: The Advertising Devil and the Deep Blue Sea ... 2.3 Double-Barreled Power ... 2.4: Betty and Don's Son ... 2.5: Best Montage Since Hitchcock ... 2.6: Jackie, Marilyn, and Liberty Valance ... 2.7: Double Dons ... 2.8: Did Don Get What He Deserved? ... 2.9: Don and Roger ... 2.10: Between Ray Bradbury and Telstar ... 2.11: Welcome to the Hotel California ... 2.12 The Day the Earth Stood Still on Mad Men ... 2.13 Saving the Best for Last on Mad Men

And from Season One: Mad Men Debuts on AMC: Cigarette Companies and Nixon ... Mad Men 2: Smoke and Television ... Mad Men 3: Hot 1960 Kiss ... Mad Men 4 and 5: Double Mad Men ... Mad Men 6: The Medium is the Message! ... Mad Men 7: Revenge of the Mollusk ... Mad Men 8: Weed, Twist, Hobo ... Mad Man 9: Betty Grace Kelly ... Mad men 10: Life, Death, and Politics ... Mad Men 11: Heat! ... Mad Men 12: Admirable Don ... Mad 13: Double-Endings, Lascaux, and Holes

20-minute interview with Rich Sommer (Harry Crane) at Light On Light Through



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The Plot to Save Socrates

"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book




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