DRAPERBACK WRITER: An almost recapper regrets
A few weeks ago I had just about had enough and had planned in my head a “more in sorrow than in anger” post about Mad Men. My complaint was basically that there was no pathos here, no melancholy or disappointment with lost opportunity. I felt that Don had become such an angry cypher- as had in their way most of the rest of the cast - that the show was failing to capture any sense of time passing - a big failing for a show set at such specific moments. The sense of lost time and all that we didn’t do and didn’t become basically is, as far as I’m concerned, the basis of all art. And in the mid-season, it seemed Don had become so closed off to the world and genuine humanity that he was no longer capable of experiencing that disappointment, so the show had become, I was going to write, inert and dead.
Fortunately for me, I was far too lazy over the past couple months to write the above paragraph. (Other critics were less lazy and basically wrote the same thoughts). How lucky for me. Because as the finale showed, Matt Weiner was acutely aware of all those issues and at his own roundabout stately place, bringing us to a place where he could provide an immensely satisfying, immensely sad grappling with all that.
I had made the mistake of confusing Don for the show itself and assuming that his anger and emotional hibernation were the show’s.
Anyway, if I wasn’t frustrated enough with the recap era, thinking about the above has taken me another step. To put it simply: the need to record our reaction to every episode, to Tweet our response to every moment of everything we consume is the enemy of art. There is no space anymore to allow for experiences to develop, for ideas to thrash around a bit before they find their way when everything has to be declared OMFG THE BEST EVER or a DISASTER from the first frame.
This is why the GIF is the ultimate art form for Generation Yay: just an abstract little catch phrase with a funny moving picture that reminds you of something you saw when you were texting last night. What more experience can there be.
I hope in this year to work even more on the art of keeping my mouth shut about things until I’ve had a few minutes to think about what the hell I’m trying to say and prod at how much of it is true and how much is just me as usual blowing hot air. When I look back for instance over the last year at the reviews I wrote based on movie trailers - more than half of those movies turned out to be nothing like the impressions I formed from the ads (some were much better; some much worse). In most cases, I would have been just as well off forming my opinion on the basis of the title as from the trailer. And by shooting my mouth off, I had committed myself to an opinion that at least part of my energy watching the film was then invested in defending.
Anyway, a great movement is waiting of people who advocate putting a cork in it as the most eloquent statement we can make. The case against the First Amendment grows with every passing Tweet.