Fear Itself

 Posted by on April 11, 2012 at 6:00 am  Season 5
Apr 112012

What scares me? How do I react to fear? More to the point, what do I get to do in response to my fear? And are those actions defensive or offensive?

Fear is on display so often in Mystery Date, it’s practically a guest star. Don fears both the actual Andrea and his attraction to her; Pauline fears the still-at-large killer in the Chicago murders, and gleefully delineates her terror to Sally; Ginsberg describes fear as both pursuer and prince, in his “Cinderella” pitch.

Dawn and Peggy—sleeper and searcher for the thing she fears, respectively, in the dark SCDP office—may know fear the best. One knows it much better than the other.

We have seen men take shelter in the office before. Harry and Don both did, when their wives kicked them out. Dawn’s choice of Don’s office as a hiding place is something else. This is the choice of a woman who doesn’t live anywhere nearby and has no way to get home. It is the choice of a woman who, in 1966, is in much greater daily danger than any of her colleagues. Worse, Dawn knows there are places she cannot go—not because she may fear those places, but because she may inspire fear in others.

Think about that. You are a young professional woman. You work in a Midtown high-rise. You like your job; you are the image of respectability, approachable and very polite. With a profile like this, would you ever describe yourself as frightening? Should you ever need to stop yourself from accepting the simple things that are offered to you?

And how would you stand living in a world that thought the answer to those questions could ever be “yes”?

I know that Mystery Date was probably filmed (and certainly written) before this happened. But here we are. This year’s murder of an unarmed Black teenager looms large over the episode. Trayvon Martin’s murderer remains at large—not, as in the case of the Chicago massacre, because no one knows who he is. The world knows who George Zimmerman is. The murder he committed is six weeks old. The state where Zimmerman committed that crime allows him the liberty to take a life, and this technicality condemned Trayvon Martin to death.

I know that Peggy has a choice, when she sees her purse on the table between her houseguest and herself. Lane Pryce faced a similar choice when he discovered a stranger’s wallet on the seat in a cab driven by a Black man. In both cases, not just property but integrity is at stake. Lane makes one choice: removing the wallet from the custody of the business on whose premises he found it. Peggy makes another. To her credit, Peggy does not follow her impulse in that moment. She leaves the purse where it is, but not before her houseguest sees her fear.

I understand Peggy here. I do. But I feel for Dawn: in the light fading from her face, in her realization of what she still represents to Peggy, I feel for her.

She carries inside her body, in her skin, something that she knows others may fear. How does that make her feel about herself? About those others? If you are Dawn Chambers, how few places are you willing to go, even under the auspices of work? How achingly slow must you learn to be, before you can open up to anyone, or trust, or have fun?

Was it fair in 1966, is it fair now, to place such massive responsibility for the feelings of others on any human being? Male or female? Young or old? Cab driver or colleague? Hands hidden or where “I can see them”, driving a car, carrying a purse, a bag of Skittles?

Yes, fear is irrational. It arrives unbidden, moving from the brainstem to the conscious mind in an instant. We can’t control what puts it there. We can question it. We can ask ourselves how any fear matches the facts of its situation. We can drag it into the light, challenge it, and finally put it away.

We can control what we let fear make us do, as Peggy did. We can. We must.


  70 Responses to “Fear Itself”

  1. Your post made me think of this quote by Dr Martin Luther King, Jr: “Men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they can not communicate; they can not communicate because they are separated.”

    It’s from his 1958 book Stride Toward Freedom, about the 1955 Montgomery Alabama bus boycott, which was inspired when Rosa Parks sat down in the White section of the bus. It wasn’t just her tired feet that prompted her action, it was a weariness in her soul.

    As we’ve seen, even by 1966, not much had happened to dispel that weariness — or the wariness felt by many Whites finding themselves in close proximity to Blacks — but some seeds of change had been planted.

    In the generations since, many of them have bloomed and blossomed, but even now, the weeds of bitterness and division mar the beauty of the garden and inhibit its full flowering. There remains much work, yet to be done.

    • Thank you, SmilerG. All so very true. <3

    • That Dr King quote is brilliant. And this just in, Arizona bans Mexican-American studies in its public schools. The contrast is stark.


      • Makes it all the more attractive. If only those communities had the resources to run their own hedge schools, as the Irish did in 18th and 19th century.

    • Just to chime in a bit about Rosa Parks. The prevailing folklore is that Rosa’s feet hurt and she was weary to her soul, and there may be some truth to that, but the fact is that Rosa Parks was also an activist. She knew exactly what she was doing by not giving up her seat on the bus. She had been trained in civil disobedience methods and had attended the Highlander Folk School the summer before the boycott, where she learned more about the techniques of passive non-violent resistance. At the time of her arrest, she was the secretary of the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP; she founded its Youth Council in the ’40s. She was just 42 years old when she became a galvanizing symbol of the civil rights movement. She lost her job and was at times in fear for her life. She and her husband, Raymond, eventually moved to Detroit to find work and leave the harassment behind. What a courageous woman she was, she and all the trailblazers — of all colors and persuasions — for civil rights.

      • Sorry for the confusion.

        In my earlier post, I should have stated that Rosa Parks was seated in the first available row of seats in the Black section of the bus. She was arrested for not vacating that seat when asked to by the driver, so that newly-boarding White passengers could be accommodated, as was the custom in Montgomery Alabama at the time.

        The net result remains unchanged. She refused to give up her seat for a White passenger.

        As for the issue of her “tiredness,” in her autobiography Parks states: “People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”

        While it is true that she had been involved in the nascent Civil Rights movement and had been trained in the movement, by her own account at the time and subsequently, it’s clear that her actions were impromptu.

        In an April 1956 radio interview, several months after her arrest, she explains exactly what happened the day she was arrested, giving a contemporaneous account …

  2. I thought the Peggy/Dawn scene was so outstanding and perfectly captured a real issue with sympathy towards both.

    I think the audience knows Peggy is wants to identify w/ Dawn and yet she still has hesitation and is horrified at her own response. Where does Peggy go from here?

    And Dawn. Oy. You are so spot on with “the light left her face” comment. It broke my heart. And yes, this is a woman who lives in fear daily.

    This is why I watch Mad Men. There were so many other ways they could have introduced this topic and taking arguable the most sympathetic regular and having her make a mistake with Dawn was an excellent choice.

    And my biggest fear in the Trayvon case? Is that there is some shred of doubt with some piece of data that has yet to be revealed that allows people to justify Zimmerman walking. We don’t know all the facts yet and it seems so slam dunk that this was fear driven and the fault lies w/ the man who took a gun out to patrol a neighborhood. I actually want that to be the result – that Zimmerman is to blame. Anything that obscures this will dilute the impact of his death. No matter what happened Trayvon is dead and didn’t deserve to die. If we can’t have him back, then I want his death to be something that changes hearts and minds. I’m not a vengeful person and I don’t want blood. I want truth.

    Sorry about the soap-box, I look at Trayvon and see my baby boy (BTW my baby boy is a 6’2″, 225lb 19 year old white privileged college kid… it’s all about the heart).

    • The Peggy/Dawn scene made for a nice contrast with the Peggy/Abe scene from last season (was it in “Beautiful Girls”? Will check Deborah’s Episode Guide in a minute). Edited to add: Yup, it was Beautiful Girls–thanks to Deborah for the guide!-MC When Peggy was talking to Abe about women’s rights being similar to the black civil rights movement, Abe dismissed it. Although I do think Peggy had a lot of valid points, I can also understand why Abe thought she wasn’t looking at things realistically.

      I almost felt as if Peggy was remembering that whole “Nobody wanted me here” discussion with Abe when she talked to Dawn. Only this time around, she was more sensitive and admitted right away that she knows she’s not in the same situation as Dawn is. When Dawn said “I appreciate that,” I think she truly did appreciate Peggy’s attempt to empathize with her. Especially because Peggy didn’t try to say that they were in exactly the same situation.

      • It was beautiful. it is not the same thing, but there are definite similarities. I think it is in the season one (?) commentaries where they talk about women’s role in the 60s causes (aside from women’s lib) All the egalitarian young men who ran the movement wanted “their women” there, but they expected them to step and fetch it and to hang on their man’s every last pronouncement.

  3. This post is truly excellent. I enjoyed it very much. Brava!

    (I have a micro-minor splinter of a quibble about the assertion “Yes, fear is irrational” but it’s not worth the candle.)

    A thought about the purse incident, I want to blame it largely on the alcohol. I think maybe a sobering Peggy would immediately realize this the next day too.

    First, if she’s less uninhibited by the office boozing, she may have naturally put the extortion money in her room at the very beginning. Skin color not withstanding, she has a stranger in the house. I mean that if Dawn was instead Ginso or Meredith, Peggy’d still want that purse in her room after all I think.

    Secondly, even if her inner sober slob also would have plopped the purse upon the coffee table, when she eventually decides to pick it up, she probably would have been aware enough to make it a casual grab with the beer bottles and some other stuff, and not looked up to see if Dawn was reacting to her. That probably would have saved the day.

    I feel sober Peggy is fairly self-aware and empathetic, and if she anticipates that particular problem, she reacts in a way that doesn’t alienate Dawn.

    She is right about herself. She has tried acting like a “man” at times. She’s certainly drinking like that version of a man, like her male role models, and it’s going to have its negative side effects just the same.

  4. It was a good scene, beautifully acted. To Peggy’s credit, she did not check her purse and count to see if all the money was in tact in the morning after Dawn left.

  5. The 10 sides of FEAR as depicted specifically in Mad Men or generally in life in general:

    1) The fear of death

    Roger’s heart attacks, Ida Blankenship dying in the office, Don Draper becoming more aware of his own mortality as he discusses the idea with the American society that teenagers don’t want to die.

    2) Xenophobia

    The fear of strangers, foreigners or outsiders. The lion’s share of the separation of the races was due to treating Blacks like they were foreigners and not part of the overall American culture.

    Notice the disdain Roger has for the Japanese businessmen from Honda and his open hostility he bears towards Japan in general.

    1965 was the year that the USA overhauled its immigration laws. This change in policy is vastly underrated in terms of how it changed the demographic composition of America and promoted chain migration or reunification of families and ended the restriction of where the immigrants would come from.

    3) Fear of getting old or losing one’s edge, competence, status due to age

    Again you can see that in the recent relations between Roger and Pete

    I think an argument can be made that both Roger and Don married younger women in an attempt to renew and to re-energize themselves; call it a breath of fresh air if you will.

    In the case of Roger, it has clearly failed. He appears to be in decline and heading towards the abyss. As for Don, so far so good.

    4) Fear of being alone

    This can seen from two different viewpoints–as depicted above the fear of women being physically attacked, raped, or killed by forces of evil.

    But the fear also manifests itself mentally and psychologically in Don Draper as he comes to terms with his casual lifestyle and his self-destructive pattern in season 4. He feels even more alone now than he has for a long time, especially when he feels estranged from his children.

    People marry for many reasons, but I do think a main incentive for Don to marry Megan was to re-establish his relationship with his children and the only way he could do that was to re-establish his own psychological and mental compass by being married and leading a more traditional life.

    And Don also I believe saw the writing on the wall–the longer he remained in this lifestyle, the longer he would remain alone. Don’s sudden decision to marry Megan may have appeared impulsive but in reality it was something that Don had been thinking about for awhile (sitting on edge of bed in his apartment watching Megan sleep) and in Don’s own words when commenting on his letter to the NY Times on no longer taking tobacco advertising that “I knew what I needed to do to move forward”, in other words not to remain alone any longer.

    5) Fear of change

    Betty exemplifies the “future shock” that occurred in her life in the 1960’s. She does NOT handle change well. But when she does muster the courage to change (decision to move to Rye and the firing of Carla) and to insist on a fresh start her husband Henry shoots her down by saying, “There is no fresh start. Lives carry on.” I predict because of the rapid change in the 1960’s Betty will become more neurotic as she has a very difficult time coping with it.

    In contrast her ex-husband Don Draper welcomes and embraces the change through marriage to Megan. In the last episode he even goes so far to say to Megan, ” I will be with you until the day I die.”

    Don fully realizes the level of success he has in his quest and desire to achieve PERSONAL REDEMPTION will be based on the level of his success he achieves in his marriage to Megan and to re-unite with his children and the success of his efforts to kill off “the old Don” as shown in Mystery Date.

    6) Fear of loss of love or loss of sexual intimacy

    For Don at present, losing the love of Megan would be devastating. He is completely different around her than he is anybody else. His colleagues see that. This has become Don’s greatest fear in season 5 and not that he might lose his business.

    7) Fear of reverting back to old patterns

    You can see that in Mystery Date that Don goes to great lengths to assure Megan he is a changed man and Megan reminds him of his “careless appetites” and the longer he goes on to try to justify his past behavior the more evidence is provided that Don feels guilty about bedding so many women in the past as stated by Megan.

    The dream was all about Don symbolically attempting to “strangle” his past inclinations and to send them down to Davy Jones locker. After Megan assures him that she was beside Don the whole time and he realizes it was a dream, in the modern vernacular of “being scared straight”..Don tells Megan that she doesn’t have to worry about him any longer. How true that is we’ll see in future episodes.

    8. Fear of the environment (world events, government legislation, social unrest etc)

    Throughout this season we will see that played out much more than the previous 4 seasons as business decisions, political decisions, lifestyle decisions, and personal decisions grow more dependent on the changing American landscape.

    9) Fear of loss of power (among white Americans)

    The more unhappy white Americans are with their personal lives, the more unhappy they will become with their perceived loss of power due to civil rights legislation and increased emphasis on extending equal rights to minorities.

    And this also will be seen among white men specifically who fear the loss of white male power to white women and women in general as more women (like Peggy and Joan) strive for full-time careers and rise in the pecking order of the organization.

    10) Fear of loss of income/lifestyle for those not so well financially stable

    The firm’s situation is still rocky but it appears to have gradually climbed out of its malaise. But when you are a member of the middle class or upper middle class, your greatest fear besides your personal fear is to see the rug pulled out from under you and have to start over again.

    For example a younger man like Pete Campbell is now well situated in the suburbs. How would a collapse in the firm alter his newfound lifestyle? I would suggest drastically.

    As for Don and older members of the firm, they are better positioned to handle any slump in business fortunes because they have had longer to get their finances in order and to earn an income in their careers.

    • Wow. Great list! To which I would add:

      11: Fear of being seen. Seen as a failure, a fraud; the fear that I might display my true nature, and see it rejected by others.

      There’s also the classic Fear Of Barbie Dolls With Magical Powers, as we saw in a past episode with Sally. But that’s not as relevant here. 🙂

      • Zombie Barbie–the epitome of what an AMC actress should be!

        • I might watch that show.

          Set in 1968, The Talking Dead Barbies, is a drama based on a commercial derived from a late night dorm room existential bull session.

          The new speaking Zombie Barbies torporifically take over the doll aisle of toy stores across America. Some people notice. Parents and children alike are fascinated yet annoyed by the seemingly interminable conversations.

          Pull her string and hear, “Give me a vehicle”, “My family’s off limits to you now” and “Where’s Carl?”

          (burning barn not included)
          Well actually I probably wouldn’t watch that show.

          • Make the following changes and I’d watch it:

            One Zombie Barbie has a rifle. Several are in cocktail dresses and suits.

            They additionally say, “Change the conversation,” “A thing like that!” and “I like being bad, and then going home and eating brains.”


          • The Talking Dead (and damn Mad about it too) Barbies and Kens?

            Additional speech: “I can’t turn it off, it’s actually happening!”, “I don’t know if that’s true”, and “When God closes a door, he opens a rib cage”

            Get AMC on the blower! We got us a winner.

    • Corollary to #3 – Fear of getting old . . .

      Roger once said to Jane his greatest fear was that he would make her old.

      Roger was your fear realized??? Shut up!

    • Sounds like the 10 Plagues!

  6. Tremendous post, Anne B.

    The simple yet deeply resonant power of Mad Men is that it could make such a profound commentary about race and the fragility of human relationships without a single word being spoken in that scene with Peggy and Dawn. Breathtaking, enriching, humanizing television. There’s not much of it to be found these days.

  7. Thanks to all for your thoughts!

    I think about Trayvon Martin every day. So, apparently, does his killer. But Zimmerman, for whatever reason, and to this day, is still awarded the benefit of every doubt.

    “He is largely alone. You might even say he is emotionally crippled by virtue of the pressure of this case,” said Hal Uhrig, a former lawyer for Zimmerman. The protests and the profound isolation of going into hiding may have pushed him “a little bit over the edge,” said Uhrig and his colleague, Craig Sonner. (source: Fox News)

    The language here refers to the person who shot and killed a teenager as if he were somehow fragile, a lost soul, alone and hurt. Not a word on the fact that this lost soul killed someone.

    Just burns me up.

    • Anne B,

      That pesky Constitution and Bill of Rights just keep rearing up.

      Trayvon Martin is dead and cannot be charged with a crime. Zimmerman is alive, has claimed self-defense and has a presumption of innocence by the triers of fact, probably a jury if criminal charges are filed.

      As part of Zimmerman’s defense evidence of a past criminal record of Martin will be admissible to some extent which the trial judge will decide. Unless Zimmerman testifies any alleged criminal record of him will not be admissible.

      Perhaps the delay in bringing charges against Zimmerman has to do with evidence contradicting his claim of self-defense. As I write this I am not aware the special prosecutor has released the additional information promised for today (11 April 2012 or tomorrow).

      If there is no admissible evidence to the contrary, the rule of reasonable doubt mandates that Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense must be accepted by a jury. Under current Florida law, a trial judge can dismiss the charges on that basis.

      The Constitution and Bill of Rights prohibit enforcing “ex post facto” laws, meaning that only the laws in effect at the time of the charged crime apply. Should Florida repeal the “stand your ground” law before Zimmerman is tried, that cannot affect him.

      Another complicating problem for the prosecution are the many protest demonstrations calling for Zimmerman to be arrested and charged. His defense is entitled to bring up the possibility of sensational media and crowd attention influencing potential jurors.

      • You have no idea, CCA, what a jury must and must not decide–none of us do, that’s why there are juries. No one is to be tried by public opinion. All evidence, however, should be brought before a jury. Florida’s stand your ground law doesn’t prevent people from being arrested. We’re not talking about conviction, mind you, this man is not under arrest. he was armed and killed someone who was unarmed. Why has he not been arrested? “That pesky Constitution” has nothing to do with that.

        • Some of the questions about the Martin case include, why did the state attorney overrule the lead police investigator, who wanted Zimmerman arrested? Why did police “correct” eyewitnesses who said they heard Martin calling for help? Why did police initially say it wasn’t normal procedure to arrest someone claiming self-defense when, in fact, such arrests have been made many times and are well-documented? http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2012/03/18/446768/what-everyone-should-know-about-about-trayvon-martin-1995-2012/

          I am not an attorney. I am also not intimidated out of having a conversation about an important issue by someone waving credentials around.

          • Deborah, nobody, least of all me, is discouraging you from expressing your opinions.

            On the other hand, I am entitled to explain my own special background to justify my opinions.

            Now there will be a press conference at 6 PM (1800) EDT today 11 April 2012 by the special prosecutor in the Martin/Zimmerman case. New reports quote unnamed sources that charges will be filed against Zimmerman.

            • CCA, when you go from explaining your credentials to “presuming,” in a lofty tone, that others do not have credentials, you are being rude and people are entitled to call you on it. I’m happy to have your discussion here. You contribute a great deal and many Basketcases have said so, as I’m sure you’ve noticed. You are also sometimes pedantic and it sometimes rubs people the wrong way. Heated political topics are likely to bring that sort of thing out in all of us. I’m going to delete specific phrases that are button-pushers and allow the rest of your comments.

            • You may call it “waving credentials around”

              I call it “establishing a foundation”

              I seldom ask a question to which I have not previously learned the answer from prior comments. You have never claimed to be licensed as an attorney, but some readers might have assumed so.

              Criminal law is as difficult as civil litigation, just in different ways. Proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt is never easy. Absent unbiased eye/ear witnesses and physical evidence, how will the prosecutors prove what was in the mind of a defendant?

              Well, shortly after 6 PM EDT on 11 April 2012 the special prosecutor announced at a Jacksonville, FL press conference that Zimmerman has been arrested upon turning himself in, is being held in custody at an undisclosed facility and will be charged with second degree murder. He will appear before a judge on 12 April for a detention hearing at which time a request for bail will take place.

              Ethical considerations precluded the special prosecutor from discussing any evidence in this case.

              Probably the mainstream press will closely follow the FL vs Zimmerman.

            • I seldom ask a question to which I have not previously learned the answer from prior comments.

              Which establishes that you are more interested in proving points and being argumentative rather than engaging in dialogue.

            • If there’s one thing I’ve learned from watching all those Grisham lawyer movies on TV, it’s that lawyers should never ask a question they don’t already know the answer to. It makes for a solid legal tactic, but a lousy way to contribute to a discussion.

      • I am not sure what the Constitution or the Bill of Rights have to do with how an individual’s former defense team choose to describe him. My comment is about the words the lawyers chose when they spoke of a man who is armed and possibly paranoid, and whose whereabouts are unknown.

        To your point, the special prosecutor intends to file charges today.

        • No Anne B, the press release from the special prosecutor only promised to reveal additional details of the evidence, it did not say when or if charges will be filed.

          The Constitution and Bill of Rights provide all criminal defendants with a presumption of innocence by the triers of fact. This does not mean anyone else is required to presume Zimmerman innocent. The same documents prohibit ex post facto laws, as I mentioned, meaning that if Florida repeals aspects of its self-defense laws between now and Zimmerman being charged, he can use the more liberal law in his defense.

          So far there is no evidence as to Zimmerman’s mental health. Until he is arrested and bound over for trial he is not required to undergo psychological evaluation. None of us know if he is paranoid. There is no evidence presented so far that at any time Zimmerman was declared paranoid.

          • CCA,

            Reminding you (and all other posters) of the Comment Policy:

            America is a democracy with freedom of speech. Basket of Kisses is a despotic monarchy.

            We encourage strong opinions, lively debate, and colorful metaphors. However, if you are insulting, demeaning, or behave in any way like a troll, we reserve the absolute right to make you disappear. […]

            In general, stick to discussions of things related to the show, rather than things related to our blog, other blogs, or other Basketcases, and you won’t get into trouble.

            Deb may not be “an attorney”, but here on the Basket, she is the boss. Mine.

            You are on notice.

          • the part of the comments policy that most stood out to me was the use of the term “lively debate.” when a topic that is subject to debate is brought up, doesn’t it mean that comments for BOTH sides are welcomed? i am unclear as to why the argument made by one side would be grounds for putting someone “on notice”, but the argument / opinion of the other side would not be subject to the same standards.

            • Claudia, we have never put anyone on notice for being on a specific debate side who did not in other ways cause a problem or violate our policies.

          • i truly don’t mean to be argumentative, but i am still a little unclear and feel i must have missed something. from where i stood, i saw that anne b. presented her very passionate feeling for and personal opinion of what she saw as unjust. c.carroll adams presented an outline of the laws that are in place that contradict the passion that anne b. showed. though c.carroll include a sarcastic introduction to the information to the constitution, it seemed no less subjective than the disdainful judgment of the opposite opinion that anne b. included in her comments.

          • Claudia also happens to be right. It’s something that happens a fair bitt here, where there are certain “live” hot-button issues that find a prevailing opinion among the moderators and often a substantial number of commenters. If you take a strong line that supports the prevailing opinion, you’re OK, while if you take a strong opinion on the other side you can expect to get warned for the manner you have expressed your opinion. By and large the double standard gets ignored and sometimes denied, every now and then it is acknowledged. It’s just something that goes with this site that you learn to live with and gradually learn what these hot-button issues are, and can avoid running into the problem by not expressing your opinion. Or you can be very careful to say your piece in a low-keyed and unargumentative manner, and then you might manage not to get the warning – sometimes. It’s worth it for all the good stuff to be found here, if annoying. As Anne says, this is not a democracy. But it’s intelligent and interesting.

          • berkowit28,

            Thanks for your comment!

            Again, this is a moderated blog: moderated by people, not bots. The principle that applies here is one of civility to all. There are comments that have not been visible to you, on this post and others, that expressed a huge variety of opinions. You can not see them because we moderate for, among other things, tone.

            This is not a snark site. No one has the right to come here and make him or herself feel better by making others feel worse. No one: no matter who they are. (I have been moderated myself, btw.)

            Your opinions of Basket of Kisses are welcome, and I love knowing that you feel comfortable expressing them here. We really work to keep the discourse, as you said, “intelligent and interesting”.

            But it helps to consider not just the comments you see, but those you do not have to see, when you spend time here. It’s all part of making everyone feel comfortable.

            • I should moderate myself sometimes, I have been known to be snarky. No one would moderate me, but at least I apologize when I’m out of line. Perils of being the owner.

  8. CCA-
    Thank you for all these details. This case is killing me and you’ve given me some reason to believe that there is potentially some rational reason why Zimmerman was not behind bars right away. If we find out later that they just didn’t want to screw up the legal case against him until they got the data then I’m fine with their actions. If there is some other motive for delay then I’m hoping we find that out too.

    While I agree the media can get the country stirred up, I also believe that this didn’t smell right from the basic facts.

    And if the evidence supports wrongdoing on the part of Zimmerman, I sure as heck hope nothing gets in the way of conviction and someone REALLY ought to figure out what exactly happen that took so long to get the data sorted. It’s been since late February. Even if Zimmerman is exonerated, it’s been since late February and NOW they are filing charges? That just doesn’t seem right.

  9. Fear to me, is directly opposite to the perception of yourself that you want to project, your best light. I was 12 years old, and zip became an insomniac waiting for my mom to come from her second job around midnight. I feared her being draped so much that I’d wait in front of the building with metal objects in my pocket. Mom would always look puzzled. Guess she was too tired from work, to consider the possible circumstances. I don’t know.
    Fast forward to the late 80’s. I worked in the financial district. That place was an absolute ghost town by 5 pm. I got out at 6 pm everyday. The first time I walked behind some lady who looked at my olive oil Latino features with a sense of fear, I died a little. It got to the point that I would cross to other side of the street if I saw a woman (white, Asian) up ahead of me. I walk absurdly fast, so that probably adds an element of creepiness to me. I DID NOT want to see ‘that’ look on their face, in their eyes ever again. Having low self-esteem makes you imagine the worst of yourself, the perception you throw out there. So maybe, I over dramatized those ladies ‘sense’ of fear in my head.
    Funny thing is, sometimes I still cross to the other side of the street, and whisper what the fuck to myself. I also think, that in that moment I am not the underdog I see myself as, but as a potential predator in someone else’s eyes. It still kills me inside.
    Pegs had her moment with Dawn. She feels she let herself down. She somehow dehumanized another human being. A someone she sees as an underdog, like she sees herself. Was it a racist impulse? Or miscommunication?
    I laugh when it is written how far we’ve come from the Mad Men days. I read the stat that over 460 of the Fortune 500 is CEO ‘d by a white male. That’s at least 92%. 50 years and we’ve gone from 100 to 92? Is that progress? Or is that me being racist or hostile toward white men? I’m serious. It makes me upset to see the true power in our nation, corporate, is still thoroughly dominated by a single demographic. Would it make me feel better to see Latinos, who look like me be the bosses? Why am I not more upset that aren’t more women? Because I am not female? Parochialism gone silly? That makes a racist. Like Peggy. I think I’m more enlightened than I am.

    • So late yesterday, I’m walking a few blocks from my bus to my flat. It’s foggy, raining a little, and I’ve got my hood up.

      I hear footsteps behind me. Close behind me. There’s something on one of the walker’s shoes, I think — it’s like step-drag, step-drag. I’m thinking about that kid Billy Mahoney in Flatliners. I’m getting freaked out!

      So I stop, and the footsteps stop, and I wheel around to see … another white woman. With her hood up as well, and her arms full of stuff, carrying a bag that droops a little on the ground. She screams, I scream, we both scream, and then we get busy picking up the stuff she just dropped. Apologizing, laughing a little, both of us mighty relieved.

      I swear that it was not any real threat, but the image of a ghost kid in a bad movie, that had me scared. Fear is the jerk of the emotions. It makes a fool of every one of us.

  10. Great post Anne and techno’s list covers lots of MM territory too.

    Perhaps it is a corollary or reframing of techno’s fear #7 but I found that in addition to working in lots of doors, doorways and shoes this week there was a lot of use of light and day v. dark and night to highlight fear of ourselves and our dark impulses in sort of a Jeckyll/Hyde fashion. We can’t see as well at night. Shadows confuse us and enhance our fears. To function, transparency demands light. Examples abound where characters react differently at night to underscore our fear of the dark and our dark sides.

    Peggy is fine, even triumphant in the light of day as she defunds Roger but at a very typical night at the office she is skittish and drinky. Her fear is enhanced by the use of classic horror movie techniques like the shot of the door opening slowly. Of course she and Dawn scare the heck out of each other. As you say Anne, simply being a black woman in 1966 means that just to be safe Dawn has to behave in a completely different way at night. Trayvon Martin is a timely example that that we have a long way to go in addressing irrational societal fears and prejudice. On the show it is not an accident that Peggy’s darker impulses regarding the purse occur at night. Peggy sleeps off too much to drink (is this a new demon for Peggy?) and the bright light of day shows her fears were unfounded.

    Don’s nighttime fevered battles against his own compulsive dark side are already well documented. Restful sleep breaks the fever and the light of day reveals what he certainly hopes is a changed man (we’ll see!)

    Pauline’s behavior changes dramatically – almost physically at night. During the day she is an authority figure who is certainly not nice but at least acts more like a responsible adult. She actually treats Sally like a younger child than she is demanding that she finish a sandwich crust and all. Night brings another scare scene with Sally looking like a refugee of the Shining. Nighttime Pauline is converted to an immature teenager curled up on the couch, gossiping on the phone and ignoring her babysitting duties. She suddenly decides Sally is older than she is – old enough to treat like a coconspirator. She gleefully waves the knife around and draws out the gruesome Speck details. Pauline seems to enjoy her “teenage” role introducing Sally to the pills. Day again brings the relative “normalcy” of Henry, Betty (and baby Gene inexplicably wandering around on his own).

    At night Joan finds out about Greg’s lie but she can’t take it all in yet. Her initial reactions are understandably emotional, jumbled and confused. Joan’s mom tells her that she is too tired to know what to think. Though we know she did not sleep well, it is a decisive and confident Joan that greets the day.

    The list goes on. Earlier someone mentioned that Roger looked like Dracula in his floating chair with the lights off in the middle of the day. Ginsberg turns Disney Cinderella into a nighttime horror movie. What other examples are out there?

    This is not the first time MM has gone here with light and dark, day and night (see Old Kentucky Home)

  11. ………that makes me a racist. Like Peggy. Sorry.

  12. Anne, had that been me, I would’ve crossed the street, too busy with my self-centered sense of righhtousness, and not been there to help that lady pick up her items. Fear is just another wall.
    I feel better every single time I read your post.

  13. I am a longtime (41 years) newspaperman, not a lawyer, but I submit that using the terms “murder” and “murderer” in reference to the Trayvon Martin case is neither accurate nor helpful. Until or unless a guilty verdict on the second-degree murder charge is returned, this killing — however unprovoked and unjustified it appears to us now — is NOT a murder. In the legitimate print news business, “murder” is defined as a malicious, premeditated homicide, and no one should be described as a “murderer” until convicted of the charge. Seeing as how this case has found its way even into this discussion of a television drama, it’s evident that emotions and opinions about it are running rampant in our society. Keeping a grip on the rhetoric can only benefit all concerned. (And as for “Mad Men,” it’s been years since any series has drawn me or my wife in as much as this. Love the blog, too.)

  14. To those who are worried/dismayed that Trayvon/Zimmerman talk is prevalent on a Mad Men thread, I think it’s important to note that Mad Men is far less about the 1960s than about using the ’60s as a backdrop for ever-present human problems that are still with us. What happened between Peggy and Dawn occurred in Florida. Those were not, as Peggy might say, “equivalent situations,” but they both illustrated the blurry boundaries between reasonable fear and the unreasonable disrespecting of another person’s dignity and space. The parameters of what represents acceptable self-defensive force are centrally at issue in the Trayvon case, especially re: the “Stand Your Ground” law that will receive much debate in the coming months. In that respect, the case deviates from Peggy and Dawn. However, the subtle, subterranean racial fears that were part of the Trayvon case are with us in Mad Men, and Weiner quite eloquently drew them out. More specifically, Weiner made a poignant, salient human commentary without painting Peggy as some nasty racist or doing anything that would leave Mad Men viewers divided by ideology or race. It was really quite the masterstroke.

  15. On the topic of fear in this episode, I am struck by the scenes at the creative table early in the morning when Joyce brings in the contact sheet of the Speck victims and everyone crowds around to take a look, like voyeurs.

    Ginsberg protests and tells them they are excited about some girl trussed up like a cut of meat, and Joyce corrects him: “Eight girls, but nine were kidnapped. One survived. I only am escaped alone to tell thee.”

    That last sentence is from Job 1:19: “And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.”

    It’s not just descriptive of the student nurse murders, it’s a great, fearful metaphor for all that’s about to come, in the late sixties.

    • Holy moly that’s a good catch.

      Thanks, GoodSally! And also, wow!

    • Before the 60s there were other fears, and some groups lived in fear all the time already. It’s white, privileged people who suddenly had to be afraid — especially of their own children as well, who became drug-using, disrespectful, oddly-dressed strangers.

    • I think I’m in love!

      Thanks for digging out that Job reference – very, very awesome work there.

      I want to suggest that you change your nym to ExceptionallyGoodSally for the remainder of Time.

      • Y’all are funny. ::exceptional blushing:: I like the Moby Dick reference, too. I’m sure there are multiple meanings.

        I like how every line of dialogue in MM is earned and often does double (or triple) duty.

        • “Every line of dialogue (in MM) is earned”

          An exceptional thought and turn of phrase!

          I’m thinking a brief courtship and a June wedding.

    • My first thought was that Joyce was quoting Ishmael at the end of MobyDick (a natural assumption considering my online name 🙂 ), but, of course, the great Herman M was quoting scripture. In either case, a great metaphor for coming disaster.Nice catch!

    • This is really cool Good Sally – another great catch. And Melville, the use of this quote works really well from a Moby Dick standpoint too. We could spend days on the great white whale but given the thoughtfulness of this show it is not a stretch to see this quote as a deliberate tie in to the light/dark good/evil motifs throughout this episode. Moby Dick is all about good and evil, light and dark, our obsessions and compulsions, what we know and can’t know. I think it is intentional that the reference to transparency and Peggy’s question as to why transparency is important occurs in this scene too. Again Moby Dick is all about knowledge and perceptions – what we can and can’t see clearly (See White T Jim B’s great post on shadows)

      One other fear reference that eluded me until a second viewing: In the very first scene, Don and Megan enter the elevator and he is coughing up a lung. Megan moves to the other corner of the elevator and says something like “I’ll just stand over here.” Don replies with something like “Why, because you think you’ll be safe over there by yourself?”

      I missed it of course but this is another creepy foreshadowing.

      • Good catch!

      • Thinking about MM’s each episode (and the overall series arc) is like being back in senior English and dissecting Heart of Darkness, although MM is much more interesting to me and I love the conversation throughout the week. I didn’t even think about the transparency comment, but of course! Good catch back atcha, ddd.

      • If there wasn’t a BoK we wouldn’t have a way to share the thoughtful work that goes into this show and MM wouldn’t be half as much fun – so thanks to Deb and Roberta! The cast said the writing is particularly strong this season and so far I have to concur.

        Having some friends over for a little MM party tonight and I can’t wait.

  16. Hey Charles Emerson WInchester III – in the words of Tony Soprano, “take it easy”. I really enjoy Annie B’s posts because they are not the usual dreck you find on other Mad Men sites. I’m afraid your recent comments are a distraction to our usual dialog. We Basketcases take our interest in Mad Men seriously but not ourselves.

  17. I think that the Peggy/Dawn scene was one of the most important that I have ever seen on television. I applaud them both for their bravery. It gave us all a look at how far that we have come, as a people, while allowing the Trayvon Martin situation to show us how much further we need to go. I feel for Elisabeth Moss and what she must have felt as the two met eyes. Teyona Parris should receive an award for her acting. I don’t know much about her background, but you can be sure that she knows the responsibility that comes with such a storyline. I am sure that she knows that she is standing on the shoulders of so many amazing women when she considers the role that she is playing.

    Thank you SmilerG, great stuff on Rosa Parks.

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