Like others, I found myself frustrated with last night’s Mad Men finale, but not entirely sure why. The series has always been fraught with tension and the closing shot of Don chanting at the Esalen Institute felt off to me. It was too comical, too easy. Then the Hilltop Coke commercial. At the time, it was the perfect embodiment of our country’s highest aspirations. We were still naïve and hopeful about honeybees and apple trees and caramel colored sugar-water. Could Don really have gone back to create that ad? Are there really second and third acts in America? But as the day wore on, it occurred to me that maybe it was the end of the era that upset me the most. Gone were the days of mystery and restraint. In are the days of too much self-disclosure and the blurring of lines between commerce and “real life”. The finale was not really the end but rather the beginning of our modern era. We’ve further devolved now to a culture where people gladly allow themselves to be observed 24/7 under the glare of reality TV and disclose every detail of their personal life on social media.
We have lost dignity and gained cynicism. The Coke commercial that was hopeful in 1971 appears saccharine and false to our 2015 eyes. We’ve grown smarter but have we grown better? So my last post’s prediction was wrong. Don was making a U-turn, but decided to bring it full circle. Life for profit. Are we any different?
Farewell Mad Men. Bye bye Miss American Pie. A lonely nation turns its eyes to you.