Generational Divides

 Posted by on August 24, 2010 at 12:39 pm  Characters, Season 4
Aug 242010
 

How old you are when something happens has a major impact on how you remember an event. Two people, alive at the same time, can have very different memories of the same event. “The Chrysanthemum and the Sword” made it clear that, despite the men of SCDP belonging to the same generation, there are very distinct divides. While there are economic divides as well, this post will focus on the character’s ages and experiences.

Bert Cooper remembers events that no else in the office can. He was certainly alive and old enough to have clear memories of World War I, and would have been an adult during Prohibition. Sterling Cooper was founded during the Great Depression. Unlike many of the other characters, he was trying to earn a living during that era.

Roger Sterling was under ten when Prohibition was the law of the land, but he may have tried to sneak into a speakeasy. While he was a teenager during the Great Depression and would have clear memories of it, the wealth of his father would have insulated him from much of the hardships experienced by others. We know he served in the Pacific during World War II, which was a life-changing experience for him.

Don, as we have seen, was very young during the Depression. Unlike Roger or Bert who had memories of a time before economic hardship, Don probably does not. The timeline gets complicated at this point, but evidence points to the fact that Don was eligible to serve in World War II, but for whatever reason did not. He may have been eligible for the draft in the early years of the war.  He did serve in combat during Korea, which aligns him with Roger, as a man who saw combat.

Harry has no memories of the Depression, and was removed from WWII by a degree, because he was too young to serve. He would have had to endure rationing. While the men fighting were not his peers, they would have the older siblings of his classmates, or possibly members of his own family who were slightly older than he was. Harry also would have seen endless WWII films at the movies, including newsreels, and radio broadcasts with the latest news from the front.

Peter may have a dim memory of the end of the war. He would have been young, but it’s possible he would have memories of a large parade, or people acting out of the ordinary, but would have little sense of what it all meant. While Don was fighting in Korea, Peter would have been learning about it through newsreels at the movies. Peter grew up with the fear of the bomb, and duck and cover drills at school.

I left off Lane Pryce for two reasons; I wanted to focus on the Americans, and I was unsure of Lane’s age.

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  54 Responses to “Generational Divides”

  1. Sterling Cooper was founded in 1923.

  2. Great post.

    That is largely the thesis of "Generations" by William Strauss and Neil Howe. Generational groups are bound together and divided from one another by common experiences. Using their methodology:

    - Bert Cooper is from the Lost Generation.

    - Roger Sterling is from the G.I. Generation.

    - Don Draper, Pete Campbell and Peggy Olsen are all from the Silent Generation.

    The Silents were defined by their elders when younger. For example, they married early (and divorced more than any other generation). However, they were largely defined by the Baby Boomers as they aged. Think of Elvis before the Army and after, or Gloria Steinhem going from Playboy Bunny to founding MS. magazine.

    I expect a lot of Don picking sides between Pete (and/or Peggy) and Roger in the future.

  3. I believe that Pete was 26 during the first season, but couldn't confirm the fact on this site as his link in the "Bible" isn't working. If true, this would mean he was born in 1934 and was 11 at the end of the war. I think he would have more than dim memories of the end of the war and would certainly have understood a parade and at least some significance of the event.

    That being said, I very much enjoy the fact that the characters all grew up in a slightly different environment time-wise. That (as well as their socio-economic circumstances, gender, hometown, and so on) have such an impact on their individual behaviour and the way they interact with others.

    I wonder what we could say about Betty, Peggy, Joan, and the younger secretaries based on their own dates of birth?

  4. OT here: I read a lot of Mad Men blogs (this being #1), and somehow I never heard anyone mention that there was a charity auction on eBay last week of props and clothes from the show. How could that be?!? Did I miss it here?

    The completed auction list is here:

    http://tinyurl.com/32f6ybw

  5. Agree. Great post, RG!

    The differences between Pete and Roger — despite their similarities, in terms of class — are striking to me.

    Because of the accident of Pete's birth, he believes he has control over every aspect of his world. He is becoming a generous soul, but he's had the time and space to get there by making small, survivable mistakes, and observing those of others. He's been able to grow incrementally, as a child grows: and now the world Pete sees ahead is limited only by his power to influence it.

    Roger, for all the lightness of his banter in the past, knows different things to be true. He knows that life can get pretty damned awful, fast, and when it does it's not the fault of anyone you can ask for by name or call to the table.

    Roger knows how it feels to have control over nothing. Pete does not.

    I don't think I saw this crucial difference before. It's changing the way I see a lot of things — people in my own time and place included. I have Mad Men to thank for this.

  6. #2 Clarification: as I understand it, Gloria Steinem was undercover (as it were) as a Playboy bunny as a journalist writing an expose. She wasn't a bunny-turned-feminist.

  7. # 6:

    I stand corrected.

  8. Very thoughtful post but I beg to differ on Don's memories of the great depression. and its impact on his life. There was an episode, I think it was called The Hobo Code that showed his father's death in flashback. His father had opted out of the farm coop based on his principles and Don's stepmother found out, freaked out and sent Don's father and Don off to sell at whatever cost because they were out of money and couldn't wait for a better price. Don's father got kicked in the head and died while readying the horses and the wagon. Which is all a very long way of saying that Don has very real memories of financial hardship and the impact that not having money has on a family. The need to create wealth seems to motivate him quite a bit, as it did with many who remember the great depression and also may be why he kept large sums of money in his desk in Ossining.

    Love your blog!

    Suz

  9. @1 Brett-Sorry about that mistake. However the basic point is still true. of SCDP characters, Cooper was the only one trying to make a living during the Depression

    @2 Dean- Thank you (blushes). I'm not sure officially which generation Don is in, due to a very complicated time-line within the show. I could make a case for GI or Silent based on what we know. I do agree that Don is going to start siding with Pete and Peggy against Roger in the coming episodes/years.

    @3 Rebecca-It's totally possible I made a mistake on Pete's age (see my comment to Brett above). I was basing Pete's age off Peggy. In the pilot, Peggy is about 20, and Pete did not seem much older than that.

  10. @8 suz- I actually agree with you. Roger and Burt remember what life was like before the Depression, but as we have seen from the flashbacks you mentioned, all of Don's early memories are the Depression. He has no memories of life before, but Roger and Burt probably can remember the 1920s, even if Roger would have been young.

  11. Hmmm. Can anyone out there confirm Pete's age for us?

    You're right, RetroGirl, Pete doesn't seem much older than Peggy in the pilot, although I was basing my guess on a distant memory of him being 26 and the fact that he was getting married. However, it's not like there was an age at which you could or could not get married.

  12. Great post – the Roger vs. Pete aspect of this episode hasn't been discussed enough. It's looking to be a very juicy storyline. Roger is, of course, substantially better with relationships and he's more likable, but I have my doubts as to whether he's the better businessman at this stage. But he thinks he is and he wants to remain important, which can only lead to more tension.

    I really enjoyed that there are two levels on which we can interpret Roger's actions. The first, more obvious one is that he hasn't gotten over WWII. The second, less obvious one is that he's genuinely afraid of losing his stature in SCDP (i.e. this new generation is now really nipping at his heels). It's been hinted at repeatedly that Lee Garner Jr is a very demanding client. How much longer can Roger keep him and Lucky Strike on board? Further, Roger has never been shown to be a go-getter with accounts. It didn't used to bother him earlier in seasons 1, 2 and 3 but now, with Pete achieving more success, Roger is clearly getting nervous. I actually have more sympathy with Roger on this aspect than on the wounds from WWII aspect. He wants to maintain this lifestyle without doing a whole lot of work and he feels he should have automatic respect and deference from basically everyone besides Cooper. He was willing to pay lip service to "forward thinking" in that meeting with Pete in the final ep of S3, but he's not really willing to BE forward thinking when he has to be for the sake of the new firm.

    Roger and Pete's fight is one of those still topical things on "Mad Men" – doesn't every generation or two get judged by an older generation for not having fought the same battles they did? We see this now with Boomers bringing up the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement in any and all political battles.

  13. I think your memories of the Depression would very much be influenced not just by your age, but by your economic circumstances. Though Dick/Don was young, I think the Depression had a searing and lasting influence on him. Things were never easy for the Whitmans financially, but by the time Dick was 10, the family was barely surviving. After his father was killed, they lost the farm and moved to Pennsylvania — the circumstances of that had to be emotionally brutal as well.

    I think Roger is only a bit older than Don, but I imagine his memories of the Depression were very very different, and had much less impact on him emotionally. At worst, he probably watched from the car window on the way to the Waldorf as they passed by men in the breadlines, and maybe he asked his father who why those men looked so sad. But it didn't personally touched him the way it did Don – it was more of a passing show. Remember how he and Annabel described their time in Paris before the war? They were in cafes, while people were jumping out of windows.

  14. Dick may have been a child, and he may not have been earning a living *in the same sense* that Bert was during the Depression, but he was putting in his share of labor on the farm. I imagine that he understood its importance, too.

  15. #13 Gypsy, Roger is about a decade older than Don. Roger was 46 in S1 and Don was 36. So, both of them have just passed milestone birthdays — 50 and 40. We didn't see much made of them, though.

    Both my parents were affected by the Depression. My mother wanted to go to medical school and couldn't. My father's family lost a home that had been in the family for more than 100 years. My mother's father and uncles were laid off from their factory jobs, and my mother remembers the day a union rep came to their house with a turkey as a Christmas gift. It was not necessary, since they had rental properties, but they cooked it anyway.

  16. Don told his doctor he was 36 (born 1926) in season 2 but it is unclear if that was Don or Dick's age. If it is Don’s age and Dick is a little younger then it would explain why Dick did not enlist until Korea.

    Roger was born during WWI before the US got involved if he was spending time with the dog food lady in Paris before the war. Did the show ever say how old he was when his dad died?

    If Bert was a peer of Roger’s dad he should have been born right around 1890 or so which would make him 33 when he founded Sterling Cooper in 1923.

    Pete was born in 1934 as he said he was 26 in Season 1 when trying to get Don to hire him as Head of Accounts. Paul was Princeton Class of '55 making him a year older than Pete. Harry and Ken are about that age as well as they “all came up together” per Harry two weeks ago.

    Betty was born in 1932 (28 in season 1), Joan in 1931(31 in season 2), and Peggy in 1940 (20 in season 1).

    On the kid front, Sally is April 1954, Bobby is from 1957, Gene is June 1963 and Pete & Peggy’s baby is November 1960.

  17. Brenda — Roger's wardrobe also gives him away, he favors the older suits.

    My father would have been slightly younger than Don Draper, just missing the end of WWII, but his older brothers served, and one died in the South Pacific (Dad served in Korea). Like you, both my parents had hardships during the Depression. My mom's parents lived along the rails because Grandpa worked for the railroad, so they always fed hobos, so The Hobo Code was a great episode for me.

  18. I also meant to say that, based on suit styles, I think that Lane must be around the same age as Roger.

  19. One of the major differences between military service between WWII and Korea is that people who came from families with money in WWII would have chosen to serve (because it looked good and also was 'expected' – anyone who did not was considered a coward), but because of money and education, would have been officers. Roger would have been an officer, with all that includes in terms of advantages, better food, etc. In Korea, there was much more of the 'monied getting out of serving.' I remember my father telling me about his being called up (he was a young doctor) and at the last minute, the entire call up of doctors that month was cancelled due to the influence of one senator, whose son was in the group. Serving in Korea had none of the feeling of the service of WWII and people with money who were called up used their influence to get out of it. The other thing is that during WWII, there was a strong influence of not taking all the men out of a household. Since Dick Whitman's father was already dead, he would not have been called up or if so, his step mother would have written to the draft board asking for an exemption because he was the man of the house, so he would have gotten out of that. Then, later, during Korea, his brother would have been old enough so he'd have been called up.

  20. @#5- Interesting thoughts, AnneB.

    I'm not too sure, but I get the impression that Roger's father was more of a self-made man than Pete's. IIRC, when Pete was about to get fired in season 1, Roger initially backed Don, but Bert explained that Pete comes from old money and all the connections and privileges the Dyckman name imparts (St. Paul's School IIRC, Dartmouth, Fisher island, etc.).

    Roger may be wealthy, but he identified more with chain of command (having been a military man) rather than the unspoken rules of the upper class. I think the Sterling money is much newer than the Dyckman Campbell money. Well, technically Pete's family went broke, but they'd be like one of the old Dutch "ruling" families in an Edith Wharton novel, while the Sterlings would be the Gilded Age millionaires.

  21. I believe during season 1 when Pete got information on the real DD he said Draper was 46 "In that case..you look great" or something to that effect.If that's correct then "Dick" is about 10 years younger than "Don" and goes by his real age. I think.

  22. This conversation is fascinating, my mom was born in 1954 so she'dve been Sally's age. Her family was relatively poor compared to the Drapers so her clothes weren't as nice, and I'm fairly certain her mom handmade most if not all of her clothes. My grandfather served in WWII in Europe and he'd be between Don and Roger in age.

    I imagine Roger's perception of the Great Depression to be really similar to the Kennedys, in that they were aware that things were bad but they were so far removed from it all that they weren't really affected. Roger has never really had to struggle to keep what he has so he can afford to be callous about possibly losing business. Whereas Don is constantly battling to maintain the kind of life he has because he had to work so hard to get it and he knows what the bottom looks like. I've often gotten the sense that Don resents the fact that Roger is so privileged but doesn't even know it.

  23. I think this will all become increasingly significant as the series progresses. The war protests are going to affect the older people and the military people very differently than the younger set.

    I grew up knowing that lots of people protested Vietnam "back in the 60s"–so I don't find it shocking in the same way the WWII vets who lived it found it shocking.

    But I think that Roger, Freddie, and others will not take the protests lightly.

    Their understanding will be shaped by their war experiences–burning draft cards, avoiding the armed services, and the like will be viewed as weak, cowardly and dishonest.

    In that light, I think Roger and Freddie would not be happy to discover Don's identity theft.

    I think Don's actions (switching dog tags to escape a war in Korea he didn't believe in) would put him more in line with the war protesters of the younger generations.

    However, openly expressing that point of view could blow his cover. He is supposed to be a war hero who saw action.

    Actually–the fact that Bert worked through the Depression probably makes him more indifferent to the fact that Don faked his identity. People did a lot of stuff during the Depression to try to make ends meet.

    I wonder if it looked fishy to anyone (Roger) that Don was able to just "walk away" from Korea and WWII and not understand Roger's reaction to doing business with the Japanese? Partly, I like to think that Roger just had a hard time moving on, but how common is Roger's reaction among former soldiers?

    I thought that Pete was exaggerating things a bit when he accused Roger of wanting control over the firm. Maybe Pete was right. But I was a bit surprised when Don said Pete was right. As I watched that part, I said "huh?"

    I get it that Don wanted the business. I get it that Don wasn't mad at the Japanese. I get it that Don was trying to talk Roger into doing business with the Japanese.

    But I didn't understand Pete accusing Roger of trying to hog ownership of all the SCDP business (Roger knows better than anyone that Lee, Jr is a bully and the relationship is tense). Roger is the one who likes to live it up at parties and things–you'd think he'd want the business, even if Pete brings it in.

    Funny—when we started the series, Pete was after Don's job. Over the years, I think Pete has had to grapple with the fact that Pete is not a creative genius–and Don has skills. Pete has been shown up by Don, Peggy and others on the creative front. But Pete seems to have shifted his goal: he is valuable to the firm to the extent he brings in new business and he is going at it.

    Suddenly, Roger is his "competition" and the guy "standing in his way." Once Roger had to calm Don down about Pete. Now, Roger is rattled by Pete and Don is siding with Pete.

    When Pete accused Roger of trying to hog control, I thought "there goes Pete–making everying personal and about him."

    But when Don said that Pete was right, I was surprised.

    Does Don really think that about Roger? Are we supposed to think that about Roger? Or was it all a tactic? To get Roger to bend? Or to get the conversation away from swapping war memories with Roger?

    Don cannot really relate to Roger's anger at the Japanese.

  24. Deborah & Roberta – how about adding a special page — a wikipedia of sorts — for an MM TIMELINE?

    We're always having these discussions (How old is Don? When was he born? What year did Don & Betty get married? When did Anna and Dick/Don meet? all that fun stuff!) It would be great to have it all in one place to refer to, and where better than at the place for all things Mad Men- BoK!

    Quiet1ne's comment at #17 could be the start.

    I did a dissection once of the 1950s (Korea, meeting Anna, getting married, Sally & Bobby's birth, etc etc) which I would gladly reconstruct to help this along.

    :-)

  25. But when Don said that Pete was right, I was surprised.

    I wasn't. Don knews all too well the terrible cost of Lucky Strike being able to "turn off the lights" at SC, and now their death grip is even stronger at SCDP. He's the one who had to deal with Lee Garner Jr's odious whim by firing his valuable art director Sal. (I get the feeling they've never been able to really replace Sal — not sure Joey is the same caliber, and so far, that's the only artist we've seen at SCDP)

    And no one was very comfortable with the humiliation Lee Jr doled out at the Christmas party.

    Roger had a lot more money to beign with and made a lot more money out of the PPL SC buyout, so maybe he's set for life no matter what happens. But I suspect Don and Pete have everything on the line at SCDP, so the Lucky Death Grip is extremely threatening to them, I imagine. Especially since it all seems to hinge on Roger being able to keep Lee Jr from pulling the plug, which, given how loathesome and capricious Lee is, that could happen at any given moment .

    So, no, it didn't surprise me at all. And I don't think it had anything specifically to do with the war, or Don trying to change the subject, or the Japanese. It's just business, and business they desperately needed to have. Pete saw it that way, Burt saw it that way, and Don saw it that way.

  26. #24, Not all WWII were/are that hostile towards former enemies. My grandfather was a POW in Austria and as far as I know he doesn't harbor any lingering hatred towards Germans or Germany. He never wants to go back there but I don't think he'd refuse to be in the same room with a German or anything like that. My dad served in Vietnam and he doesn't hate all Vietnamese, he has more issues with the way the U.S. Army was run than with the Vietnamese.

    Some soldiers are able to not blame an entire race or nationality for the atrocities committed by their leaders, and some are not.

  27. #20 – Toby,

    Until she died, Grandma referred to WWII as "the time your grandfather ran away and left me to take care of the kids by myself." He wouldn't have had to go because he had a wife and two kids, so she always felt abandoned.

    It was never clear to me if he enlisted, or if he was drafted and chose not to ask for an exemption. And even if he were still around, I doubt he'd be willing to elaborate on what his reasons were. But they kept him in a stateside assignment (radio operator) because they preferred not to send husbands and fathers overseas if there were single men available.

  28. It's weird — I was having this exact same discussion today with another friend. Basket of Kisses seems to be on my wavelength. ;)

    Generational divides are a very interesting thing, especially given how historical events seemingly outside an individual's control seem to have such an indelible effect on a person's psyche. Observed traits in a generation are not always easy to identify, much less finding patterns in such a highly individualistic society such as America, but it can be a very revealing study.

    I think the moment in Roger's office after the meeting was perhaps the most fascinating generational divide of all. There was Roger, still angry and full of hate over an admittedly-horrible conflict in the Pacific Theatre of war, taking out his rage on a young person — Peter — who had the gall to question his intentions over not wanting Honda on as a client. There they were, two archetypical members of their respective generations — The Greatest Generation in Roger and the upstart Baby Boomer in Pete — taking their passions out on each other. Of course, in the middle, is the Lost Generation member — Don Draper — uncertain of what to do, but knowing the future is Pete's perspective, not Roger's.

    If there was a scene in that episode that was a greater harbinger of what is to come this season and beyond, that was it. Roger's day is in twilight when it comes to his influence, and Pete and Peggy's generation is on the rise at SCDP.

    As a broader generational discussion, I see two concurrent trends at work in 2010. On one hand, the West is entirely obsessed with labelling people into neatly defined demographics that fit with perceived "observed traits" in people. It's undeniably true that certain characteristics are associated with people born at a certain time. People born in 1970 will have a very different view of the world than those born in 2001. This leads to the second trend, which is, given our media-saturated culture we live in now, it feels as if many perceived traits in people are all merging into one digitally-driven mindset, lacking real tangible differences in how we live day-to-day. Because history is so mediated now by the imminent and dominant "present-ness" of digital culture, a context-driven history is less relevant today than it was 50 years ago.

    We are mediated by the moment instead of living in the moment, which means those strong formative events that dominated much of the analog 20th century — The Great Depression, World War II, Vietnam War, to name a few — affected people in a very different way than they do in 2010. As a generational statement, you can definitely see this in how people reacted to 9/11.

    Even if this is a generalization to a degree, I know the reaction to 9/11 was very different across the generations. The Greatest Generation and Baby Boomers reacted as people shaped by the Television Age; the event was made especially potent and real by the immediacy of it and how it all played out on live television. There were historical echoes of the JFK assassination and the Lee Harvey Oswald murder on live television with 9/11.

    Whereas with Generation X and especially so with Generation Y members, there was a sentiment of unreality to the whole event, as if it was a movie. Our reactions were of shock, true, just as it had been for everyone else, but our response was very different. Our Internet Age mindset had trained us to be cynical and weary of images on television. Knowing what was happening was real, terrible and defied easy dismissal put a very cynical group into a state of denial and confusion. It wasn't "real."

  29. Just one quibble with your post Greg– Pete is definitely not a Baby Boomer. He would have been born in the mid 30s, before the war. Sally is a Baby Boomer. As is Bobby. And even Baby Gene.

    If anything, Don and Pete and even Peggy are probably lumped together into the "Silent Generation" which just goes to show you how useless these generational labels really are.

  30. The Don/Dick timeline makes my head hurt. Good luck to anyone who attempt to untangle it.

    @ 19 Dirigentin- Part of me thinks that Lane is Roger age, because Lane looks a little older than Don, but we've never heard Lane mention WWII or military service. Also, Lane has children who are younger than Roger's daughter, and closer in age to Sally and Bobby. It's possible that Lane served in WWII shortly after marrying, which delayed starting a family.

    @ 31 gypsy howell-Baby Gene is a bit of a demographic puzzle. Where he fits depends on how you talk to. Some say the Baby Boom ended in 1964, in which case he would be a Boomer, while others say that the Boom ended in 1960, in which case he would be Gen X.

  31. @ Gypsy Howell: oops, my bad. You're right, Pete is Silent Generation. Well, the argument I made still stands — the younger generation giving the old one a righteous piece of its mind. :)

  32. #32 RetroGirl, the US Census bureau divides the American baby boom into two distinct groups:

    Cohort 1, born between 1946 and 1955. This is the largest set of boomers and are considered to be the heart of the "experimental" generation. This is the Woodstock, love-in, socially oriented group. This is the "never trust anyone over 30" generation. Now, they're starting to be called "golden boomers" because the first are hitting retirement age.

    Cohort 2, born between 1956 and 1964. Some call the outer segment of this cohort "Generation Jones." (I happen to fall into this group.) These boomers don't have that much in common with the original boomers: we backed away from the hedonistic 60s and 70s.

    In Canada, the boom is considered to have lasted from 1946 to 1967, so you have to figure people born at the end of that boom have even less in common than the entry boomers.

    All the Draper kids are boomers, but any more of Betty's offspring will be Gen-Xers.

  33. Pete tells Don in the pilot that he’s almost 26 (or 27), so he would definitely be old enough to have experienced life during WWII. Of course, as a child of privilege I doubt he had to sacrifice much, but he would surely remember the war. I thought Pete, Harry, Ken and Paul were all around the same age.

  34. #8: The reason Don probably kept so much money in a desk drawer at home is indeed a legacy of the Depression and it really doesn't have to do so much with creating wealth as fear of losing it. The Great Depression was a time of massive bank failure, there was no FDIC then and many banks were undercapitalized when people began withdrawing money en masse. As a result many, many people who had their money in banks lost their entire life savings. Think of it as a kind of civilian PTSD: many people of that generation developed a deep mistrust of banks and it was not uncommon for them to keep ready cash on hand. "Cash is king," not relying on credit cards and a deep belief in saving are hall marks of that generation.

    In many ways, the Korean War was the Vietnam of its era. Coming on the heels of WWII, it was deeply unpopular and it had none of moral nobility of WWII. If he hadn't been fired by President Truman, General McArthur might very well have dropped a nuclear bomb on North Korea, which would have brought the Communist Chinese into the fray, so I'm not surprised guys that could tried to get out of it. There's a brief scene in "The Good News" when Joan is in the doctor's office with "Walter (I forget his last name) that made me wonder if he had been a Korean War vet because he questions Joan about why Greg is going to Viet Nam when he doesn't really have to. When Joan reminds "Walter" that he served, he replies, "I didn't have a choice–or a wife." It was really only for dirt-poor guys like Don for whom Korea was probably an opportunity to enlarge his horizons.

  35. #29 Gypsy

    I agree with you about the "business is business" part. I think for 2/3 of the episode we see Don, Bert, Pete, and Lane in the "business is business" camp and Roger seems to be stuck on war honor, loyalty, war trauma, and racism. I wanted SCDP to get other clients, because it seems smart to weaken the Lucky Strike dependency. This part didn't surprise me.

    I was initially surprised at the depth of Rogers objections to Honda. Then I took things at face value: Roger lived through lots of terrible propoganda and watched his fellow soldiers die in combat with the Japanese. We've seen Roger be a bigot before (dark face, anti-semitism, sexist behavior) and the war struck a nerve.

    Then out of left field, Pete accuses Roger of interfering with Pete's ability to get new business for SCDP. Pete seems to say Roger is petty enough to destroy all chances with Honda to remain "king of the mountain" at SCDP based on Roger's role in the Lucky Strike account. Pete takes the whole thing and makes it personal and petty–ignoring all the stuff about the war.

    The timing of Don's comment that Pete is right seemed to indicate that Don was agreeing with Pete about Roger's MOTIVES.

    That was the main thing I was surprised about. Not the goal (business is business, SCDP needs the Honda account) but the accusation that Roger was fighting a petty battle with Pete.

    Actually–I think I get it now.

    It goes back to shaming and saving face. Someone like Roger is not ashamed to be racist. Someone like Roger is not ashamed to carry a war grudge. Someone like Roger is not ashamed to hate the Japanese because he perceives it as loyalty to his country.

    However, somebody like Roger is ashamed to believe that the other partners think he is so petty that he will destroy good business for the firm just to win a pissing match with Pete.

    I don't think Roger was really in a pissing match with Pete. I don't think Don really thought that Roger lost it because Roger wanted to "hog all the clients" and maintain his power at the firm.

    But if Don creates the illusion that he (and possibly the other partners) think that Roger is disloyal to the firm out of petty competitiveness with Pete, he is able to shame Roger out of fighting the Honda account.

    If there had been no audience to Pete's accusation–Roger could have brushed it aside. If Don had brushed Pete's accusation aside, Roger would not have felt ashamed.

    But Don heard the accusation and did not brush it aside, and Roger felt pressure to prove he was not as petty and disloyal as Pete and Don suspected he was.

    All that said–considering there is a possible "missing 10 years" in Don's life (if the real Don was 10 years older than he was), I think WWII would be a topic Dick would want to avoid discussing with Roger.

    Dick may be one of the Silent Generation pretending to be Don, a member of the GI generation. Not sure about the dates though.

  36. Brenda says; "Cohort 2, born between 1956 and 1964. Some call the outer segment of this cohort “Generation Jones.” (I happen to fall into this group.) These boomers don’t have that much in common with the original boomers: we backed away from the hedonistic 60s and 70s."

    The 60s and 70s being "hedonistic" is false. I was very involved in the anti-war and the women's liberation movement as a young adult then. We were fighting for a better world. We helped to end the war in Vietnam and remove some of the virulent sexism that is on display in MadMen.

    I don't want to get into a political debate, but please don't call my generation hedonistic.

  37. # 37:

    I doubt that any generation really likes how they look to the one that follows them. Gen X was too small compared to the Boom Generation to sustain a critique like the one received by the GI and Silent Generations. That does not mean that it did not exist.

  38. Oops–hit the button.
    Dick cannot relate to Roger’s anger at the Japanese, but perhaps he fears the real Don Draper is supposed to and wants to get out of this conversation.

  39. @ Lady K #24 & #36

    Agree with your comments on Roger's attitude and actions, but I would add that a lot of it also comes from personal as well as generational sources. Repeating what I said on the Open Thread, Roger has shown himself to be very touchy about his Rich Boy upbringing. He hates any suggestion that it all came to him served up on a silver tray. He may even fear, in his heart of hearts, that it's true (else why would it set him off so.) But his war service is something else. He knows that that is authentic, something he earned. So when anything comes up that might challenge its value, of course he loses perspective. It's a challenge to the most real thing in his whole life.

    Come to think of it, there were probably a lot of World War II vets who felt the same way about their service, so it's generational after all. Roger is going to be among those who HATE the anti-Vietnam War protesters.

  40. am i imagining don saying that he went to korea when he was 19 or 20?

  41. I couldn't help noticing how prominent Roger's desk lamp is in this episode, especially in the scene where Roger and Joan are "facing off" and the lamp is on the table between them. Is the shape of the lamp supposed to remind us of the mushroom clouds of Hiroshima/Nagasaki?

  42. I'm sorry that Roger's position got such little, hmm, exposition? I expect that the first time he saw Japanese was in the war, and that he may never have seen any since, at least to be sure they're specifically Japanese.

    During the war, it was said – and I don't know what's true and what's propaganda – that all Japanese loved the Emperor, that schoolchildren were trained to kill for him if the mainland was attacked, that Japanese would rather die than be taken prisoner. Not to mention what we know did happen, a sneak attack, the rape of Nanking, the terrifying treatment of prisoners, and the final fact that Hiroshima was bombed on Monday, Tuesday no surrender, Wednesday no surrender… –This is what Roger meant, I think, by saying that he's the same person, so they must be too.

    In short, I didn't think Roger had enough time on screen to be completely understood.

  43. Don was 36 as of episode 2.01; he was truthful with his doctor. This means that he was born in 1926 and was too young to serve in WWII.

    Pete was 26 in episode 1.01.

    Don't forget to check the Bible for these things. :)

  44. #42, the sound of one man laughing,

    Thank you. I have wanted to say that too.

    I watched the PBS miniseries The War, and footage included in it showed Japanese citizens taking their own lives (sometimes their children's as well), rather than accepting capture by the American invaders. We saw film of clearly terrified people leaping from cliffs onto rocky shores.

    The information they had received about the American troops must have been terrible.

    I only know what I saw in that series of TV films, of course, and what my great-aunts and -uncles told me of that time. (One great uncle, who died in the 1990s, was a sergeant in the Pacific Theater.) I am far from a perfect source.

    To be fair to both the narrative we received on Sunday night and the character of Roger Sterling: the drama was only about 60 minutes long. Roger was only a part of it. And anger doesn't exactly help someone clarify his point; quite the opposite is true.

    Roger's experience, like that of any man or woman who served in uniform, deserves a longer telling. I'm just not sure it'll get that here.

  45. This was a fascinating post & the comments on it have been even more interesting. It's incredible, but not surprising, how much of who we are is defined by the shared circumstances in which we grow up. Still, our individual circumstances keep us from all being cookies from the same cutter. I, like Sally, am a Boomer, born in 1954. (Although I was born in November, so she would have graduated from high school a year before I did.) It is so easy for me to identify with the way she sees the world. The fictional Sally and I share the same memories of the 1960s. Unlike Sally, though, I was fortunate enough to have had a much more stable, functional family. I'm guessing that Sally will grow up indulging in more rebellious behavior than I did. She's too young for Haight-Ashbury but just about right to be a high school stoner and then a promiscuous, coke-fueled disco queen.

    My father was born just a couple years before Don and was a couple years younger than my mom. They graduated from high school at the end of the Depression & the beginning of WWII, both children of farm families in rural WV. Their experiences should have been identical but in fact they were not. In 2010 we tend to forget that in the 1920s America, while increasingly urbanized, still had a substantial rural population. The Depression really started with farmers with the bottoming out of farm prices with the end of WWI, almost a decade before the stock market crash in 1929. The Depression brought very little change to most American farm families, in terms of life style, from the 1920s, depending on their abilities to come up with cash to pay their bills. My mother's father retained his job as an electrician all through the '30s, so, although they were never wealthy her family was able to supplement their farm income with a steady, if small, salary. Her memories of the Depression were mostly happy ones of her childhood & teenaged years. My dad's father had borrowed money to buy real estate to expand their farm and, when the Depression hit, had nothing but his farm income to live on. One of my father's most formative memories was of watching his father pace the front yard in his nightshirt, not knowing if he would have a house for his family to sleep in the next night. My dad never felt financially secure, even when he was comfortably off, and never, ever went into debt. He never even bought a car for which he couldn't pay cash.

    I guess my point here is that we can be on firm ground when we generalize about generational similarities but we can't honestly say that character "A" MUST act in a certain way because of his generation. Just about any behavior can be justified by a character's own individual circumstances, no matter how closely he or she hews to a generational "norm."

  46. My mother & uncle were around Pete's age when the war ended…they remember it very clearly. People in their family & on their block died. There were air raid warnings, etc. I think it's odd that so many people don't understand (in other posts, too) how very much children see & know. They seem to see that Sally "gets" a lot of what's going on. I was Sally's age at that time…WWII was a big deal to me & I was born, obviously, 11 years after it ended. Believe me, these stories are told over & again.

    Good post.

  47. I found myself wondering about Bert's penchant for Asian art and his clear understanding of the "Japanese Rules" when Pete was mishandling the Honda meeting. The gifts etc.

    How did Bert become such an art aficionado? and why the love of oriental art?

    Can anyone enlighten me? I assume that some of the pieces in his old SC office were Japanese. I see the generational difference between he and Roger, but am of the Cohort 2 era myself (Bobby's age I think) and don't know why Bert's generation would be any more forgetful or forgiving of WWII enemies than Roger's generation.

    Just had a flashback to Grandpa Gene and Bobby and the German helmut. Don's obvious generational different perception. "That's a dead man's…" didn't he say? Evidencing his history of evading Korea and a war he didn't get. Where the fact the German was dead, was the point to Gene. So Roger is closer in outlook to Grandpa Gene? At least in terms of struggling to let go of the events that molded their youth.

  48. #24 – It's interesting to read the idea that Dick Whitman switched dog tags with the real Don Draper in order to get out of a war "he didn't believe in." I never got the sense that he believed in the war one way or the other. I assumed he saw the dead guy, no one else was around and figured out how to get out of the war AND (more importantly) get out of being Dick Whitman, all in one fell swoop.

  49. #47 decogirl: Bert was born around 1890, we think, and there was a big interest in things oriental, particularly Japanese, in the late 19th and early 20th century, especially in paintings and glassworks. We don’t know much about his family but clearly he was intrigued at a young age to be so thoroughly enamoured. Perhaps the original family money was made in the import business? We just don’t know.

  50. #49, Maybe it's just wishful thinking but I get the impression that Don is anti-war in a general sense.

    Remember how upset he was when Grandpa Gene gave him the German helmet from WWI. It had a hole in it so the soldier had obviously died. He was clearly disgusted that his son was given it as a plaything and ordered it taken away from Bobby.

    It's apparent that he hates corporal

    punishment. See his reaction when Betty wants him to hit Bobby, or when she slaps Sally.

    His horrific experience in Korea. He must have had a very human reaction of repugnance for what he saw. That, combined with terror, made him switch tags to get out of it.

    (I don't think he would have had time until later in the hospital to realize that he could really BECOME someone else)

    All of this I am hoping will make him sympathetic to the coming anti-war movement.

  51. @50 Josie-Sympathetic in private, absolutely, but in public he has an image to maintain, so I doubt he will be able to openly voice support for them. It will be interesting to see what happens.

  52. # 34 Brenda – As a musician born in 1951, here's how I divide the boomers: Cohort 1: Beach Boys, Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel. Cohort 2: Bowie, Queen, Led Zeppelin. Big difference in music, but plenty of room for crossover.

  53. The easy way out for Lane is that Jered Harris was born in 1961 (August 24–I forgot to send a card). You could say then that Lane was born in 1916: done with school in time for the depression and the war, which for British young men lasted 5 years. He'd be in the "Room At The Top" cohort, and I still think he's a "counter-jumper"–a likely lad who rose on brains and hard work; he's often indicated that he enjoys the fact that no one in New York cares where he went to school or who his parents were.

  54. @SFCaramia (#35): "Cash is king"

    I know what you mean. My grandparents fall between Roger and Dick/Don in age, so my grandfather did serve in WWII. After my grandmother was moved to a nursing home and my grandfather passed away, my family cleared out their house in preparation for sale. We found 20- and 50-dollar bills tucked into books, behind dresser drawers, under mattresses… in unlikely places all over the house. Most of the actual hiding happened because of my grandmother's developing paranoid dementia, but growing up during the Depression certainly had a part in sparking it. She'd also amassed huge stockpiles of toilet paper, soap, etc. because she'd buy them every time she went to the store.

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