Retrolicious–Mad Men 6.7: “For Immediate Release”

Hosted by Tami Winfrey Harris and Andrea Plaid

A Judas kiss, if we've ever seen one.

A Judas kiss, if we’ve ever seen one.

It’s a minute after Dr. King’s assassination, and the Sterling Cooper Draper Price gang are back to business as usual: Don does his usual dick-swinging; Pete fails in coming for folks far more grown than he; Roger Sterling goes after a woman young enough to be his daughter. And Joan and Peggy…well, check out what Tami and I, along with Renee Martin from Womanist Musings and Fangs For The Fantasy, said about those two, complete with spoilers.

Tami: Oh, Pete…naw! He was totally creeping on Joan. I think we all realize that Don Draper is a horribly broken human being, but what is it that makes Pete feel so much more objectionable? Is it just that he is soooo bad at being the alpha? Is it that his privileged disdain for most everyone seeps through in every interaction? You can just feel him feeling he is better than you. Is it that he rarely–save the occasional monologue on racial equality–shows a shred of human decency? The bank guy compliments Joan on being an effective CFO; Pete makes it about the man “wanting” her. Ugh.

Renee: For me part of it is that Pete is a rapist.  As bankrupt as Don is, he has never raped anyone.  Like Pete, Don has had his moments of basic human decency as well.  For me it comes down to how low each individual man is willing to sink.

Andrea: Renee, Don did use sexual coercion to make an ex-lover, Bobbie, get in line. So there’s that.

As for Pete…I think his leering is more along the lines of his always angling for a moment to lord something over someone than creeping on Joan specifically. Coming for Joan was his latest lording attempt. And, as you and I have discussed before, Tami, Vincent Kartheiser possesses that physical trait that creeps you the hell out: the baby head on a man’s body. (Cf: Leonardo DiCaprio.) So, Pete looks like a 12-year-old trying to get shitty with grown-ass Joan. As always, my reaction to Pete’s attempts is, “Really?”

An object lesson of what happens when you try to come for grown folks.

An object lesson of what happens when you try to come for grown folks.

Tami: Told you so. I said last week that Pete’s views on equality had limits and this week we identified one of them. To quote my friend Barry, “So Pete strikes me at the type who wouldn’t have a problem frequenting a whorehouse that had a black prostitute on staff, but if he caught his father-in-law with said prostitute, would emphasize to everyone that she was a black prostitute.” Yep. And in the retelling, the prostitute would get bigger and blacker just to illustrate his father-in-law’s depravity.

Of course Pete’s reaction is not surprising at all. What is surprising–no, just a little sad–is that several modern-day commenters around the web seem to have missed the racism in Pete’s comments or at least found them funny. Black women–still the butt of the joke in 2013.

Renee: I’m not surprised that the internet failed on this one.  The internet allows people to say things they wouldn’t dare to say in public.  I also think that Weiner or whoever did the casting for this scene encouraged this.  It didn’t escape my notice that the actress who played the prostitute was not as well kept, (read: hair, makeup, clothing etc.) as the White prostitutes in the background.  She was meant to be perceived of as less than from the very start.

Tami: Bob Benson seemed to appreciate Papa Trudy’s choice of evening companion.

Andrea: She was quite lovely–and a lovely contrast to the other women we could see in the place. So Weiner failed to make the woman a joke to me.

Tami: Speaking of, what is up with that dude? Really. Bob Benson seems to be everywhere, offering to pay for everything for coffee to toilet paper to, um, relations. If Matt Weiner is a believer in Chekhov’s gun, then Bob Benson is going to go off really, really soon.

Oh, can we subtitle this episode, “How Roger Sterling Got His Groove Back”? Cause The Silver Fox–he was on fire.

“I close deals!”

Yes, you do, baby.

Andrea: Gurl, yaaaaaaaaasssss! I’mma take a minute to appreciate the allness that is John Slattery’s bed hair. That Talia Balsam wakes up to that man and his hair… ::waves church fan::

John Slattery's bed hair. That is it, and that is all.

John Slattery’s bed hair: that is it, and that is all.

Renee: It was nice to see Roger do something besides wallow about how tough his poor little rich White boy life has been.  That said, I have never been a huge fan of his character so there was little cheering from me.

Tami: Worse than losing the Vicks business to Pete has got to be Don and Roger pulling his ass out of the fire, with all their swaggering, self-centered arrogance.

Renee: I guess just like you doesn’t always work for White men.  I found it interesting that Pete decided the best course of action was to go running to Trudy.  He couldn’t conceive of how this would damage his relationship and furthermore, he didn’t pause to think about explaining exactly what he was doing in a whorehouse.

Andrea: Ya know, Renee, I think the father did think it through, though, and knew that Pete would do the very thing that would bring the result he wanted: Pete out of his daughter’s life–and the family. I think the father knew Pete would go back and tell Trudy and knew that his daughter would not only not believe Pete due to not only wanting to consider that her father would cheat on her mom, but do it with a Black woman, let alone a Black sex worker. (Ah, the fruits of ignorance from white privilege in general and white female privilege in particular.) Dad’s plan worked like a charm…and I’m thankful for it.

Tami: Peaches and Herb. That is all.

No, one more thing: ‘Tis a sin and a shame that Julia Ormond is relegated to playing Megan’s mother.

Andrea: Hold up–that’s the same Julia Ormond from Legends of the Fall? (Now, that’s a film needing some Racialicious analysis! A Table for Two, mayhaps?) You know, I’m here for her as Megan’s mom, though. I love that she’s an older woman fully and casually in her sexuality, as she slept and left Roger a bit turned out.

Tami: I love the episodes of this show that are about the business. About our gang making magic happen. The merger with Cutler, Gleason and Chaough was a magnificent reset and I wonder what the fallout will be. There will be redundancies.

Joan comes for Don's dick-swinging ass.

Joan comes for Don’s dick-swinging ass.

And Joan was right. As impressive as it is to see Don work, it is all about Don. His big Hail Mary Pass may mean big things, but there is no doubt the move is better for him (and Roger and Bert) than for Joan or Peggy or Pete. What is important to Don is that Don comes out on top.

Renee: It irked me that Don didn’t bother to consult with his partners on this deal whatsoever, even though it amounts to a typical Draper tactic.  It did however drive home what Joan was saying about everything being all about him.  As a single mother, that money would have set Joan and her son up for life but none of that was a consideration for Don.  I cheered when she talked about her personal sacrifice so that they could get the account he so callously tossed away.

Andrea: I’m really, really devastated with Joan about Don’s forgetting/ignoring that Joan slept with the Jaguar dude for the company, which extends to Don. It seems that Joan using her sexuality to secure her life always has some vicious cautionary-tale element, from her doctor ex-husband raping her and her still going through with the marriage to now her sleeping with the Jaguar dude to secure the account for the firm and Don cavalierly chucking the account. Once again, Joan is slut-shamed for her sexual choices and the reasons for them.I think we really need to have fuller discussions about “survival sex” or agreeing to sex for other reasons beyond pleasure, reproduction, and/or even survival in feminism…

And I was heartbroken to see Peggy get reset in this. She ran to Cutler, Gleason, and Chaough to get away from Don and to grow in her profession on her own terms. And now she’s taking orders from Don again to go type a press release, like she’s a secretary all over again. And there’s Don with this ain’t-it-cool-I’m-your-boss-again grin on his face–again, nary a thought about the effects of his professional dick-swinging, especially on the women he’s framed as caring about. If I was Peggy, I would’ve walked back to my office and screamed and threw shit.

 

 

  • http://profiles.google.com/ruthieoo Ruthie O

    I completely agree with Andrea: “I think the father did think it through, though, and knew that Pete would do the very thing that would bring the result he wanted: Pete out of his daughter’s life–and the family.” During the confrontation, Pete’s father-in-law told Pete that he knew Pete “would do the right thing.” And I do believe that he was willing to sacrifice his daughter’s good opinion to get Pete out of his life.

    And Pete’s stance on civil rights is pure capitalist. He respects the black community enough to not turn his nose up to their spending potential. But the idea of seeing black folks as fully human people? No way.

    Also, do you follow Tits and Sass? It’s my new favorite blog; written by sex workers, it covers lots of political, safety, and cultural issues surrounding sex work. They did a post dedicated to Joan last season.