Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bye Bye Birdie:: As Seen on Mad Men

Last night, I had to make a decision. Mad Men versus the bottom of the 14th. of the Giants-Rockies game in Denver with the Giants leading 4-1. After Miller walked in a run, the Giants' Valdez served up a grand slam. Giants lost 4-6 and are now 4 games back in the wild card race, after what some dub their worst loss of the season. Shaking that off, I flipped to Mad Men a few channels up. In Mad Men, the ad agency, Sterling Cooper, wanted to crib Ann-Margret's performance in Bye Bye Birdie {1963} to shill for a Pepsi "diet" drink called Patio. I was sort of curious to see the entire clip::







I recall seeing several Ann-Margret films around 1986-87 or so, including the noirish Kitten with a Whip {1964}, Viva Las Vegas {1964}, and Frank Capra's Pocket Full of Miracles {1961}. In Mad Men, Peggy {Elisabeth Moss} thought her voice was grating and that she was a 25 year old acting like a 14 year old, but let's just say she found the allure of Ann-Margret to be compelling. Ah, this is what men really want. After all, this is 1963 and while Peggy might be smart, she still needs to negotiate being smart and wanting to be desired by men. Oooooh, yet another parallel to gendered interactions in 2009, tapping into the angst of late feminism!

Ann-Margret's star was on the rise in the early 1960s and she represented a sexuality that was youthful and accessible, so it fits that the boys of Sterling Cooper would be very much interested in the hyperreality she invokes.

In a future post, I'll go into my thoughts that Mad Men is thirtysomething for Gen X & Y. I clearly haven't had enough of its Kool-Aid to write asinine articles about Pete being everyone's favourite weasel, which makes me wonder if covering the entertainment beat means you lose IQ or if you learn to write that way. Both?


Image:: Ann-Margret on the Flintstones as Ann-Margrock.

Twitterversion:: Clip of Ann-Margret in Bye Bye Birdie that was referenced in #MadMen. http://rhizomicomm.blogspot.com/ @Prof_K

Song:: Viva Las Vegas - Plastilina Mosh

2 comments:

Juanita's Journal said...

In Mad Men, Peggy {Elisabeth Moss} thought her voice was grating and that she was a 25 year old acting like a 14 year old, but let's just say she found the allure of Ann-Margret to be compelling.


Man, Peggy seemed to have gotten a lot of things wrong about Ann-Margret . . . which makes me wonder about her.

The actress was barely 22 years around the time of this particular episode. And that opening scene didn't even represent her true singing voice.

I think Peggy may be a lot more insecure than she thinks.

Kenneth M. Kambara said...

@Juanita:: Great hearing from you. I've struggled with the Peggy character, as she is written, over the years. I get the idea that Peggy represents a set of contradictions:: her being smart, yet having an attraction to Pete, her going to Mass but not going to confessional, her proto-feminist ideals while working as a copywriter, etc., but there's this cool detachment in her and other characters that keep them as caricatures. so, yes, I do think she "fronts" this façade, but deep down is very insecure. Joan also is "frontin'" She acts like the dragon lady, the queen bee of the office, but she has her vulnerabilities.

If I were doing the writing, I'd add more dimensionality + nuance to female characters like Peggy, Joan, + Betty. I think the writers like the characters the way they are, so they can write storylines that play up on them as archetypes to critique society, then + now. Nevertheless, I still would like to see the envelope pushed a bit more.

Thanks for stopping by.