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Classic Recordings
Robert Altman Week

Monday
Oct112010

« In Which It Is Exactly Like Drinking A Hundred Bottles Of Whiskey »

The Least Important Most Important Thing

by MOLLY LAMBERT

Freelancing sucks. Richard Morgan's "Seven Years As A Freelance Writer" explains everything. In sum, it's impossible to get paid. The bigger the name brand corporation the more emails you will have to send meekly begging to be compensated for work you already completed. Add to that the fact that all creatives are deeply afraid someone will find out they are fakes, that they have been Ferris Buellering their way through life on a cloud of smoke and mirrors they are fairly sure could dissipate at any second. We all suffer from optimism bias and depressive realism. And need money.

Speaking of misdirection, professional liar Don Draper sure didn't like getting lied to by freelance junkie (and all junkies are liars) Midge. Nothing like getting roped into a desperate dope den when you think you're just heading into the Village for a quick blowjob from an ex-girlfriend. Is Dr. Faye onto Megan? It certainly seems like she knows what the fuck is up. She was like "tell your sideline ho that she is a sideline ho."

Desperation was one of the big themes of this episode. Don was desperate not to appear desperate to clients (the endless Land O'Lakes lady/Catch 22 of desperation). My own Land O'Lakes lady brain breaker was the Eames' Powers Of Ten. When Glen told Sally that he wished she hadn't told him about infinity, I thought of how Aaron Sorkin wished The New Yorker hadn't told him that Mark Zuckerberg was a big West Wing fan (emphasis on was). Web-savvy or not, there's no escaping the matrix, Sorkin!

Positive illusions are useful to a point but they can be destructive too. Giving one person total control over your feelings gives them a power that isn't really even fair to them. This is something most of us still end up learning the hard way, and then vowing to never let happen again. Second best is never enough. Define yourself through relationships and risk having your identity destroyed when those relationships end. Who else is grossed out by Katy Perry singing about how Russell Brand is the missing puzzle piece that makes her feel complete? Bitch be your own puzzle piece.

I direct you as well to Natasha VC's post about Don Draper's charismatic leadership. A rainmaker is only as good as the last rain they made. Don, used to making it rain on schedule, doesn't have the stomach for setbacks like Ted Chaugh's humiliating phone call from Mayor Quimby. Taking out that big ad in The New York Times was a real Kenny Powers move, although of course Kenny Powers would never humiliate the American South in such an egregious manner. Parallels between Eastbound and Mad Men as always. This week was "tits vs. ass" and "ketchup vs. beans." Binary opposition.

The problem with Don's form of leadership is that it privileges Don's needs over anyone else's. Does leadership have to be singular? The crux of my review of The Social Network is that you don't co-direct or co-write because you don't co-fuck. Of course you can co-fuck, but the more people get involved the messier it gets. See: Pavement's onstage rebreakup during Matador 21. (Steve Malkmus:Don Draper::Spiral Stairs:Pete Campbell? Bob Nastanovich is Bert Cooper, keeping the time on a cowbell.)

Peggy calls shenanigans on Don, and that is the number one reason why Don loves Peggy. She always calls shenanigans on him. There is a nothing a powerful man secretly loves more than a woman who will call him out for his shenanigans. That is why they end up getting bored of betas. Who wants to be worshipped all the time? Especially if like Don, you have done a lot to deserve not being worshipped.

When you get dumped publicly, as SCDP did, your ego goes into overdrive doing damage control. With the advent of the internet it can be argued that all relationships are slightly semi-public. It's just another thing that makes getting into any relationship so terrifying and permanent-seeming that more Americans are single than ever

I've been facebook engaged to my friend Barbara since I joined Facebook. We just celebrated our wooden anniversary. I look forward to never changing my status, and to never discussing my personal life on this blog. Consider yourself incepted, Zuckerberg!

Was it feminist or misogynist that Don was offended by Marlboro comparing them to a "good" girlfriend who shuts up and does what she's told? Is Don going to become a feminist in the late sixties? Is he going to grow his hair long and run through a field just to bring you my LOLs? Was I the only one who though Don might ring in the mid-sixties with a smack-fueled MMF threesome? Or was I just dreaming out loud?

Is Don going to change? He showed an extremely high level of self-awareness, both in trashing the embarrassing old pages in his diary (thank god), and talking about how repeating destructive behavior patterns is a miserable experience. He didn't quit smoking, but he acknowledged that fulfilling short-term desires (as to smoke a cigarette) can genuinely fuck up your long-term desires (the desire to keep living).

Dr. Edna is a goddess. Why are all the redheads on this show wonderful goddesses (or dominatrix hookers)? Sally is getting chiller and so is Betty, it seems. Although Betty didn't like the idea of seeing an adult therapist, because they don't even let you play with toys during your sessions. Why does everyone think creeper Glen Bishop is going to molest Sally? Pretty sure she'd kick him in the dick and that would be the end of it. 

Branding is everything. All it takes to rebrand is one hit (sounds easy right). Everyone talked shit on The Social Network until it came out (me included), same to Avatar. Aaron Sorkin was coming off a huge flop, Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip, that everyone had expected to beat little upstart traditional sitcom 30 Rock (now in its fifth season!)

Nobody listened to me when I told them to watch the Mad Men pilot, because it was on AMC. And now they are all licking AMC's tits, which has built itself into a respected brand with Mad Men and Breaking Bad (Rubicon, I'll need to see you in my office now.)

Everyone believed in big tobacco and nobody believed in the internet as a viable artistic medium, and look at us now! The real generational divide is our willingness to put unprecedented amounts of personal information out in the open. Why didn't The Social Network address Make Out Club? Remember when just posting a picture of yourself on the net was totally taboo? Paradigms shift, but I still can't eat prestige. 

Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording and the Academy Award losing writer of A Few Good Men. She directed the video for "Vogue" and tumbls and twitters.

"Fiya" - tUne-YarDs (mp3)

"Safety" - tUne-YarDs (mp3)

"News" - tUne-YarDs (mp3)

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    In Which It Is Exactly Like Drinking A Hundred Bottles Of Whiskey - Home - This Recording

Reader Comments (8)

Lucky Strike left SCDP... and relocated to Boardwalk Empire!

They're all over the place in A.C. this week of the 1920s.

Who's got the charisma now, Hamm?

October 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSteve Buscemi

I swear to God, I want to make t shirts out of some your writing. I get more insight into the human psyche from reading this column than I do out of watching/interacting with real humans.

THIS

'Define yourself through relationships and risk having your identity destroyed when those relationships end.'

October 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHC Carr

Oh, Steve, you're so glib.

October 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChet

Molly Lambert, I love your writing so damn much.

October 13, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterws

Spot on, as usual. Also, does anyone else find Weiner's casting of his ugly, chubby son in the role of football-playing bad boy wooing the neighborhood blonde to be sad nepotism at best and creepy wish-fulfillment at worst?

October 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Atencio

THAT'S HIS SON? that's awesome. His son can act. He's not playing some aryan dreamboat athlete machine - he's playing THE CREEPIEST KID IN AMERICA.
Gee, thanks Dad!

October 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFaun Lee Shantae

I think Matthew Weiner's son does an excellent job of portraying the young Alex Carnevale.

October 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMolly

After the 13th Episode Rubicon is worth the pay off. Best show since the wire? Perhaps.

November 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHeathdon s McGregor

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