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Tag: Nostalgia

Nostalgia, Nationalism & Woody Allen

Nostalgia is the great opium den of Nationalist circles where many bright and energetic minds in dissident politics go to escape modernity and embark on a quest of contemplation and…

Nostalgia is the great opium den of Nationalist circles where many bright and energetic minds in dissident politics go to escape modernity and embark on a quest of contemplation and yearning for what “could have been”. Is this something that can be fully separated from radicals in our movement? Maybe not completely, however, just like the addict in the opium den, so too, are nationalists being consumed in reverie over any time period that they never lived in, and in place of progression is a great wheat field image induced stagnation that breeds depression and resentment.

Third position ideas do require reflection on our past, which can justifiably create immense admiration, but if only for the purpose of moving forward. Jewish Filmmaker Woody Allen, seems to understand the negative effects of nostalgia and seemingly gifts us with his 2011 film, Midnight In Paris. A film that displays how this trance-like state of yearning for the past can seriously complicate your present. The only problem is Allen, I feel, is speaking to a very specific audience and that audience is us. Thus, he is careful to not encourage us too much and, as you will read below, I believe he has a more nefarious purpose for this messaging.


OVERVIEW OF MIDNIGHT IN PARIS

 Midnight in Paris, written and directed by Woody Allen, is a quirky tale of a screenwriter seemingly at an impasse. Gil Pender (Owen Wilson), is vacationing in Paris with his fiancee, Inez (Rachel McAdams) and her parents John and Helen. As we can see right off the bat, Gil and Inez couldn’t be more different than one another. Gil is very lackadaisical while Inez is explicitly high maintenance and intense. Inez’s parents have nothing but disdain for Gil and his ostensibly aloof and unserious personality. Gil is almost finished with his first novel about a man working in a nostalgia shop. Inez is not impressed or encouraging with this novel and wishes he would stick to screenwriting due to to his success in Hollywood. Inez is also annoyed at Gils’ insistence that they should live in Paris indefinitely due to his nostalgic euphoria over the Paris of the 1920’s.

Paul, who is a friend of Inez, and his wife happen to be in Paris at the same time as them. She admits to Gil she had a “crush” on Paul in college to which a clearly jealous Gil describes him as “Pedantic” and “Pseudo-intellectual”. Inez is clearly infatuated with Paul while Gil cannot stand him. Paul is a very dapper man who speaks with confidence and with every chance he gets, he tries to be the smartest man in the room. Even when he is contradicted by a tour guide about the artist Rodin and his tryst with his wife and mistress, Paul will not relent and keeps insisting he is right (and as the viewer can find out if they look into the life of Rodin, the tour guide was correct).

Gil and Inez have a night of drinking with Paul and his wife until Gil opts for a walk around the city of Paris alone to take the city it all in while Inez leaves with Paul and his wife in a taxi. Gil stops on his walk to figure out where he is exactly and as soon as the clock strikes midnight, a 1920’s vehicle pulls up in front of Gil. The passengers, also dressed from the 20’s, invite him to join them. It is at this point Gil is transported back in time to what he sees as the Golden Age of Paris. The 1920’s. This allows for an entertaining list of famous characters from the time to enter the plot such as Ernest Hemingway, Salvador Dali, Luis Bunuel, Cole Porter, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and more.

Every night Gil transports himself back in time to meet all these artistic giants of the 20th century while his wife spends her time with Paul and, supposedly, his wife. After Hemingway brings Gil to Gertrude Stein’s flat so that he may have his novel analyzed, he meets Adriana (Marianne Cotillard). They have an instant connection and Gil becomes conflicted with this new flame that he has in the past and his current fiancee.

After visiting an Antique vendor in the present day, he finds Adriana’s diary where she has written a passage about her love for Gil. This encourages him to go back in time once more so that they may communicate their feelings for one another. They do so,and as they kiss at midnight, a horse drawn carriage pulls up in front of them and a well dressed couple invites them in. They are then transported to the 1890’s which is the true Golden Age, according to Adriana. After she is offered a job to make costumes for the theater, she decides to stay but Gil cannot. He realizes that everybody is bored with the age in which they live and they won’t find their meaning by going back. He decides the present is where he should remain and they choose to part.

Once in the present, Gil realizes Inez may be cheating on him with Paul (a discovery made by Hemingway after he reads Gil’s novel; Gertrude Stein then relates to Gil that Hemingway could not believe the protagonist did not see his fiancee was having an affair right before his eyes with “the pedantic one”) and when he confronts her, she admits to doing so but that he needs to just “get over it”. Gil seems rather pleased and takes this moment to tell her he will stay in Paris and they are not right for one another. In the end, we see Gil walking, yet again, through the city of Paris and at midnight he bumps into a young beautiful antique vendor he met earlier in the film. They walk off together through the streets, in the rain, which is where Gil always felt happiest.


WOODY ALLEN & THE ARYAN

 What does this film mean, and more importantly, what does it mean for nationalists? In a way, Allen is giving an honest critique of reactionary thought. Not living in the now and spending ones time only in the past can produce untold unhappiness in the present. Gil is frustrated with how he is presently living. He dreams of a before time when to him everything was great. We see this many a time in politics. For a typical Republican, perhaps it’s America in the 50’s. To some 1930s Europe. To others medieval times and there are even those that believe that in the days of cavemen things were far more ideal. Which ever time one finds themselves pining for, Allen is telling the viewer that it is the present we should be focused in but how exactly is he portraying the present?

The film opens with a series of static shots that appear almost like paintings to display the very best of Paris. Throughout the film, the city is always ever present as another character in the story. While indeed very inspiring and breathtaking, it is obvious Woody Allen has only picked very select parts of the city. What we know of Paris today is that it is a shell of its former self. Even in 2011, during the films release, migrant hell holes burrowed their way into the city along with the trash that covers the streets. Culture in Paris is waning and the very best parts of the city are only preserved for the sake of tourism and not for the French soul. I doubt Allen is ignorant to any this. Quite the opposite. I believe this was a calculated decision on his part to ensure that we don’t spend much time in the past but to also accept our present as being more than sufficient, therefore we have no need to look to our future. As Nationalists, we are inspired by our past which Allen is more than aware, and as I’ve stated before we take elements from our Golden Age (whenever that may be) so that we may apply it to our lives in order to create a different future than the one that has been currently decided for us. Allen is careful to not encourage us too much. He wants you to stay forever in the present and to imprison your passion within the confines of a “this is good enough” type of attitude.

How do we know Allen is speaking to us? Some subtle clues in his body of work, as well as Midnight in Paris specifically, give us an indication of who he is speaking to. One of the ways we can find these clues is through name recognition which you can learn through the work of Mark Brahmin and his work in Jewish Esoteric Moralization also known as JEM. Many Jewish filmmakers pick very specific names in order to indicate who is an “Aryan” and who is a “Jew”. Gil can be translated to a few different meanings. Foolish, simpleton, and happy (which can hint at a happiness out of ignorance) are among those meanings which makes sense when you view this blonde and blue eyed character in the film. JEM often portrays the Aryan figure as gullible and generally oblivious.

It’s not that Gil is an ignorant man by any means it is more that he is a bit unaware of his surroundings and can be easily manipulated. Two women in his life that are Jewish signifiers, Inez (Who’s father is a Jewish figure named John who is also a neocon) and Adriana (meaning black, which is a Jewish signifier), merely have Gil around for their temporary entertainment. Adriana, for example, writes in her diary that her reasons for loving Gil are that he is “naive and unassuming”. Paul Bates, being short for Bartholomew which is a Jewish signifier, even cuckolds Gil. The Jewish figure steals the Aryans woman away from him.

While there are several symbols and other names that we can delve into, the point is that Allen is giving, in my opinion, a direct message to the “goy”. Jews are very fearful of an inspired Aryan people which may lead to uprisings as we have seen in the past. Since film is possibly the most versatile art form in history, it would behoove one such as Woody Allen to not only entertain his audience but to also influence them in a way that he feels benefits him through subversive means.


CONCLUSION

Nostalgia, while being quite natural, can be a trap. Gil experienced this well enough. While its aroma can be alluring, it has been the great motivator of inaction among Nationalists currently. I cannot emphasize enough that we can, and should, look to days gone by to find inspiration and ideas that we can use or even update to create a future. But A movement must have vision. Vision requires forward thinking. There is no return to tradition and Nostalgia is by no means meant to be our end goal.

Midnight in Paris interested me because on one hand Woody Allen is acting as if he is giving us good advice on this matter. On the other hand, making sure we are stopped in our tracks. This is one of many ways our opposition tries to control us. The film is well done, entertaining, and quite funny. With that being said, Allen wishes to make you feel like you are progressing while in reality keeping you in a perpetual hamster wheel. It is all too Caducean. We need to spot this effect in every aspect of our lives. We need to break free of not only the prison our opposition has created for us but the one that we, as nationalists, construct for ourselves. Move forward. Not backward.

 

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Gilmore Girls: An American Tragedy

“This whole thing is dead to me, anyway. It died with Richard.” – Emily Gilmore, Fall. Was the death of Richard Gilmore the death of White America? It’s not that…

This whole thing is dead to me, anyway. It died with Richard.” – Emily Gilmore, Fall.

Was the death of Richard Gilmore the death of White America?

It’s not that the Gilmore Girls revival is less White than the original show; it’s that it’s more honest. The original Gilmore Girls was a White liberal utopia: a single mother raising her young daughter in an idyllic, wacky, all-White village in Connecticut (except for some Koreans and one disdainfully snobbish mulatto Frenchman—we’ll come back to him). Known for its snappy dialogue and charming absurdity, it was a difficult show not to like—anecdotally speaking, I know almost as many men as women who quietly enjoyed Gilmore Girls, usually introduced to it by their daughters or girlfriends.

But of course, the original Gilmore Girls was a lie. In the real world, a sixteen-year-old pregnant rich girl who ran away from home wouldn’t stumble upon a Brigadoon-esque village and grow up to become a successful businesswoman while her genius daughter/BFF goes to the equivalent of Choate and then Yale. In the real world, women who make as many bad decisions as Lorelai Gilmore does aren’t happy, nor are they seemingly rewarded for all of them. But the world of Gilmore Girls was a world set apart, a frozen episode that looked like early 2000’s America on the surface but really hearkened back to a more idyllic time.

I went into the revival expecting more of the same. In the final episode of the original series, we’re left with a Lorelai who has finally gotten back together with Luke the diner owner, and a Rory who has turned down a marriage proposal from her long-term boyfriend Logan Huntzberger, in order to pursue a career in journalism. This latter decision was one of the more signal-y moments in Gilmore Girls history: the girl-power ending where she proved she didn’t need no man! I predicted a revival that showed a plucky reporterette, fully satisfied with her career; a script that covered over the reality of culture that tells women they don’t need marriage, of the sick society in which we live where ‘empowered’ women slowly eat themselves to death after returning from their desk job every evening, alone except for a cat or two.

But I was wrong. The Gilmore Girls revival, wittingly or otherwise, reveals the rot of American society—especially in comparison with the original. The difference is so striking that I have to believe it was not entirely intentional on the part of the show creator; rather, it is indicative of a distinct change in social mood that has taken place between when the show ended, in 2007, and today.

The new Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life takes place over the course of a year, broken into four 90-minute episodes: Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. (Obligatory disclaimer: I am going to spoil the ending.)

In the original show, there was very little political propaganda. This was one of the most appealing things about it. Lorelai made the occasional George Bush joke, sometimes mocked her wealthy WASP parents for being Republicans, and Rory had a Planned Parenthood poster in her dorm room, but that was basically it. (Of course, the original premise of the show was pro-life, so they had to balance it out somehow). In general, this was incredibly refreshing compared to the constant political signaling in network television shows at the time, and compared to what’s on television now it’s like a different world. But the reboot is a different story. Suddenly, the town of Stars Hollow is engaged in gender activism, with earnest plans to put on a gay pride parade that never materializes due to a lack of homosexual town residents. (Hard to believe given the sudden prominence given to homosexual townsfolk.)

But far more striking is the change in the character of Michel Gerard. Michel, an overbearing, impeccably-dressed Frenchman with a thick accent and a penchant for Celine Dion, is a White-presenting mulatto who works at Lorelai’s inn, The Dragonfly. The original character of Michel was infamously sexually ambiguous; he of course fit a certain gay stereotype, was a little too close to his mother, etc. Nevertheless, there were occasional references made in passing to dating women, and never any made to male liaisons. Within the first 20 minutes of the reboot, in the first scene involving his character, Michel is discoursing scornfully about his male partner Frederick’s desire to adopt children. Why the dramatic change?

The answer is pretty simple: the original Gilmore Girls was a break from reality, while the reboot is almost unbearable in its reality. The past 8 years have been dramatic in their psychological effect on American society, and it is reflected here. But it’s more than that, in the world of the show. The mirror has crack’d from side-to-side; Richard Gilmore is dead. And with the patriarchal Gilmore gone, the order of things begins to break down, especially for the three female Gilmores.

Emily

You don’t move or change ever. There’s a picture of you in the attic that Dorian Grey is consulting lawyers about.” – Lorelai to Emily, “Spring.”

The change in Emily is the most dramatic over the course of these four episodes. Unlike the two younger Gilmore girls, Emily is marble-constant, an American matriarch to make Tocqueville proud. As she points out to her unwed daughter Lorelai, who has been “roommates” with Luke the diner owner for 8 years, she, Emily, was married to the same man for fifty years. Her loss at his death is incomprehensible to someone like Lorelai. Ever her husband’s champion, after Lorelai makes a characteristically embarrassing scene at her father’s funeral, Emily chides her thus: “Your father was a great man, a pillar of the community, a man amongst men. And you dishonored him today like this in his own house.” None of the other males in this world come close to Richard Gilmore. The implication runs throughout the show: we shall never see his like again.

Much like the unappreciated WASP patriarchs who held America together for so long, but who also oversaw its slow doom, Richard died having paid for his illegitimate granddaughter’s education at his alma mater, Yale, where she learned—what, exactly? Richard died without having to seriously confront the fantasy he built around Rory, Yale, and ultimately, America itself.

Over the course of the year, Emily is in a tailspin. “I don’t know how to do this,” she says to Lorelai at one point. “Do what?” “Live my life.” It is a jarring thing to watch: Emily Gilmore, the woman who knew every customary form, the woman of exquisite taste, who could never bear to let anyone see her falter: spiraling.

Even her beloved Daughters of the American Revolution chapter holds no joys for her now. (This is where I think the show breaks continuity with the original character, but for the sake of argument, we may chalk it up to grief.) The DAR, of course, represents another aspect of the collapse of the American regime; we may recall that it was one of the only national organizations that fought the 1965 Immigration Act tooth and nail, alongside the American Legion. And if there is one thing Emily devoted her life to, besides her family, it was the DAR. Finally, in an outburst at a DAR meeting, Emily says the most un-Emily line of them all: “I can’t spend any more time and energy on artifice and bullshit.” This betrays more about the script-writer than about Emily, for Emily Gilmore before this would never have really considered her work for the DAR to be artifice: the seemingly frivolous work of choosing curtains and tablecloths and china patterns was an expression of an attempt to hold a fraying society together. As Emily says before she walks out the DAR doors, “This whole thing is dead to me anyway. It died with Richard.” Without Richard Gilmore, there’s no point in trying to save America anymore.

Lorelai

You never do anything unless it’s exactly what you want to do. You never have. You go through life like a natural disaster knocking down everything and everyone in your path.” – Emily to Lorelai, “Winter.”

Fact check: True.

Lorelai is as flighty and selfish as ever, so there isn’t much new ground to cover here. She and Luke have lived together since the end of the series, never married, and apparently never even discussed having children, so it suddenly becomes an issue now. With Lorelai nearing the age of fifty, she can’t have children, and so surrogacy becomes a plot device that goes nowhere (but allows for some great scenes with the inimitable Paris Gellar, who breathed life into the whole depressing mess). Between the surrogacy drama and going to therapy with her mother, Lorelai works herself up into a real midlife crisis, deciding to go and hike the Pacific Crest Trail a la the book and movie Wild. Granted, I know nothing about either, but while the whole adventure seemed out of character—until she doesn’t actually go through with it—there was a certain pathos to the conversations she had with other women seeking solace in the wilderness. As the lonely ladies sit around a fire drinking boxed wine, one of them says, “I’m so glad I’m doing this. I almost did ‘Eat Pray Love,’ but my miles were blacked out. So here I am.” She later adds: “God, I hope this hike works. I need a new life so badly.”

Lorelai realizes that she doesn’t actually need a new life, and goes home to Luke having discovered that all she wants is to get married to him, leading to one of my favorite lines of the show: “I’ve gotta tell ya, before this thing goes on, the only way out is in a body bag.”

As infuriating as Lorelai is, she finally grows up enough to marry the man she loves. That’s something.

Rory

You’re glowing! You must be in love.” – Emily to Rory, “Winter.”

But Rory isn’t in love.

She’s not in love with her boyfriend Paul, whom she has dated for two years and whose existence she regularly forgets. (The callous treatment of forgettable Paul is supposed to be funny, but comes off as cruel.) She’s not in love with her work. She doesn’t even seem to be in love with her lover, Logan Huntzberger, who, it turns out, she has been having an extended sexual relationship with, we can assume for many years. Logan is engaged to a French heiress, but Rory stays with him whenever she’s in London, which seems to be quite often. In the series finale Rory turned down his offer of a diamond ring and a life together—apparently only to exchange it for the life of a mistress, a high-class call girl. This is why it is almost impossible to have any sympathy for the girl when Logan tells her that his fiancé is finally moving in, and that they’ll have to conduct their liasons in a hotel in the future. It suddenly dawns on Rory that she is, indeed, the other woman—and that rather than romantic, her life looks tawdry.

Lacking sympathy for Rory is the popular thing to do in reviews of the reboot, but for the wrong reasons. Sure, it’s true that Rory comes across as a spoiled child who has never been called to account for her poor choices. And yeah, her career isn’t going well. But it seems to me that that’s not because she’s arrogant or entitled: it’s because her heart just isn’t in it anymore. Even when she steels herself to get something done and goes out into Manhattan to interview people for a ridiculous story, instead of successfully completing her task we are treated to the cringiest scene of the entire show, when she returns to tell her mother that she’s had her first one-night stand with a man in a Wookie costume. (Yes, at this point she’s still supposedly dating Paul and sleeping with Logan.) She expresses no horror at her own disloyalty, but only at her choice of partner.

So who, or what, does Rory love?

She expresses a sincere nostalgic love for her ex-boyfriend Dean when she runs into him in the grocery store. And she drops everything to save the Stars Hollow Gazette from extinction, even taking over as editor—a truly thankless task.

It’s clear that Rory is in love with her childhood. Stars Hollow, her first boyfriend, and her mother are all emblems of this. Other reviewers see this as a failing; I do not. There’s nothing wrong with loving a place and trying to make it better, even sacrificing more prestigious dreams in order to do so. In some ways, Rory makes peace with this over the course of the episodes. She finally makes a clean break with Logan; she begins writing a book about the story of her relationship with her mother; and of course, in the shocking final scene, she tells her mother, “I’m pregnant.” While the show creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino, has suggested that Rory might have an abortion, the reviewer at Vox was horrified that Rory might actually think of keeping the child:

“Is this really what Rory wanted for herself? Or is she too deeply wedded to the mythos of Stars Hollow to know what her own desires are at this point?

The narrative’s cheerful, almost totally uncritical sublimation of millennial women’s individual agency to the cause of more babies is utterly enraging. To accept this plot as a natural conclusion to the show means either rewriting Rory herself into a passive noncommittal bore, or twisting Stars Hollow itself into something unrecognizable: a distorted version of American life where individual dreams and goals are repressed and subsumed into the larger collective. Stars Hollow, in this view, becomes a pro-life argument for the need to continue the legacy of Stars Hollow at any cost — even if it means dismantling the dreams of one of Stars Hollow’s finest.

It’s an abysmal, bittersweet way to part with a beloved fictional town. Rory will have the illusion of happiness, surrounded by community and family. But if 2016 has taught us anything, it’s that false comfort won’t make America great again, and it definitely won’t make Rory Gilmore great again.”

You see, the real tragedy would be having a community and a family, and thinking of yourself as happy. The horror!

Conclusion

The transformation of the town and its characters shows us that nothing is free of politics after the era of Obama, not even Stars Hollow.

Emily Gilmore is never really going to recover, because her world is gone.

Lorelai is getting married but isn’t going to have a child, while Rory may have a child, but isn’t getting married. It’s unclear whether or not she’ll have her baby, but either way, it won’t be raised with a father, just as Rory wasn’t raised with one. It’s a fatherless world. No fathers, no kings, no Richard Gilmores.

And yet the show isn’t really capable of pretending that everything is fine. The darkness shines through the charming humor, which isn’t as charming as it used to be. The gods left the earth a long time ago, but this seems to be a world entirely bereft of men. The result isn’t a feminist fantasy: it’s just sad.

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“Mad Men”: The Dispossessed Elite on TV

“All I’m going to be doing from here on is losing everything.” – Roger Sterling

Some of my friends across the Ocean have asked me what I had been up to lately. Well, I’ve mostly been catching up with TV series.

TV drama is a genre I had neglected for years, mainly because of its inferiority to movies (or so thought I). However, being a movie buff is painful these days, with the obvious “creation crunch” that is crippling the industry.

So, before Marvel releases another Iron-Man 28 or The Avengers 42, I wanted to pay a tribute to some TV series I have been watching these last months. Most have made me reconsider the unjustified contempt in which I was holding fiction on TV.

Today I will begin with AMC’s Mad Men. This may not be the most obvious choice, compared to shows that have been far more successful, and that are maybe more relevant to our purposes: Breaking Bad, House of Cards, or Game of Thrones, among others.

Nevertheless, I think that for “craftsmen of the word” like us, the story of a creative director in an ascendent advertising agency is full of precious lessons. Besides, the whole show seems to revolve around a hidden theme that is familiar to Radix readers: the dispossession of the Old Anglo Elite by a new class using its verbal skills to gain power.

For a cultural contrarian, there is always a risk of overreading the producers‘ intent. However, while I believe they wanted to depict this Old Elite negatively, and express some relief about its downfall, I can’t help thinking that the initial expectation wasn’t fully met (think of Cabaret or American History X as similar failed attempts).

For the sake of clarity, I won’t recount the 85 episodes, as I assume most of you have watched the show (for the others, you can keep reading; there will be spoilers, but the general plot is not as important as the atmosphere).

That being said, a rough summary should be done. The story takes place in New York, in the 1960’s. When the show begins, Don Draper (Jon Hamm) is the creative director of Sterling Cooper, a relatively small ad agency on Madison Avenue. He’s tall, strong, handsome, always perfectly-dressed, smart (though not particularly educated), socially savvy and uncannily successful. Successful in his work, and, of course, successful with women. Despite having a wife that would be rated as a “9” if not a “10” in the manosphere (Betty Hofstadt, played by Nordic beauty queen January Jones), he enjoys the company of many other women, who enable him to escape the sanitized boredom of his white-picket-fenced suburban house®.

We don’t see Don Draper work much. He’s always late, even for meetings, spends most of his office time smoking, drinking (Canadian Club rye at work, “Old Fashioned” cocktails at bars), and taking naps to recover from it all. When the afternoon comes, he often calls it a day to join some mistress in a luxurious hotel room. Despite that, every one of his pitches to the clients is a home-run, making him the main money-maker of the agency (his jaw-dropping Kodak carousel presentation should be turned into a mandatory training in communication and marketing programs). This reminds us that creation requires laziness as much as hard work. All those who write for a living know that their best ideas pop up when they are doing something else, or doing nothing at all.

Alpha/Übermensch Don Draper is “just too good to be true,” to the point that NBC did a spoof “Don Draper’s guide to picking up women”, in which the viewer learns that all he has to do to be as successful as Don is… impossible to fulfill.

So, why do the opening credits show a cartoon version of Don falling from a skyscraper into a sea of advertisement junk? In a Hollywoodian clichéd way, the character can’t be that successful without having a secret flaw, which, in time, will be revealed to be fatal.

As we soon learn, Don’s secret flaw is nothing less than identity usurpation. His real name is Dick Whitman. Son of a prostitute (who dies giving birth to him) and a drunk farmer (who is killed by a horse), Dick grows up in a whorehouse. When he turns 25, he takes the opportunity of the Korean war to flee. There, a field officer named Don Draper is mortally burnt in a fire Dick accidentally starts. Since the officer is totally disfigured, Dick manages to switch the identification tags and become the man who just died, giving him his former identity. This identity theft is symbolized by Season 5’s finale, which ends with Nancy Sinatra’s “You Only Live Twice.” The story takes place in 1967, which is the year the eponymous James Bond movie was released. (By the way, the song’s powerful lines “You drift through the years — And life seems tame — Till one dream appears — And love is its name” could summarize the dissident rightists’ increasing impatience; just replace “love” with some synonym, like “power,” “victory” or “glory.”)

This 92-episode series (the seven final ones will be broadcast next year) would get boring if it wasn’t for the supporting characters. Though Jon Hamm’s acting is excellent, the contradiction between Don Draper’s rise to success and his growingly incapacitating original sin wouldn’t be sufficient to support the show from Season 1 to 7. The main thing that can be said about Don Draper is that in the age of materialism, which has been the Postwar era so far, such a talented man couldn’t express his genius in a meaningful field. Rather than being an artist, a scientist, or a statesman, he had to devote his talents to selling laxatives, ketchup, and lipstick.

Still, being an outsider, Don Draper is generally benefitting from the cultural revolution of the 60’s, that he fully embraces, despite losing his own family in the process:

Completely different is the fate of other characters, who embody the declining WASP elite. Here are the most representative ones:

Roger Sterling

If there had to be a single one quintessential elite Anglo-Saxon on screen, that would be him. Heir of the original agency’s co-founder (hence his “name on the building” he’s so proud of), Roger always had it easy until the 60’s. To paraphrase one of my famous countrymen, Roger “took the trouble to be born, no more,” except during the Second World War. Roger’s wittiness and charms enable him to be very efficient in handling clients, but can’t shield him from the cultural tsunami that washes America throughout the 60’s. Unable to resist the sexual revolution, he repudiates his wife Mona in favor of an Ashkenazi secretary, Jane, who will give him no heir. Once high on LSD, Roger realizes it was a bad move, which will leave him with two alimonies to pay for. His former wife Mona only gave him a daughter, who ends up living in a rural commune with degenerates after having abandoned her “beta provider” husband and her son.

Drugs are not enough to make him forget his feeling of void, which results in an explicit recognition of his own dispossession:

Having received a Classical European education, Roger thinks he can afford the luxury of playing dumb, for example when he intentionally mixes Spanish conquistadores, Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama, and “Mexicans” in a single sentence. In an other episode, he explains to Pete Campbell what “Munich” (i.e., surrender) means when it comes to negotiation, only seconds before he attributes to his mother the famous Churchill quote “You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war.” Obviously, someone who knows what “Munich” means also knows who delivered this statement after the Munich Agreement of 1938. Unfortunately for Roger, the 60’s are no longer the time for playing dumb, especially since his leadership is under siege.

“Duck” Phillips

While he’s not a very important character, Herman “Duck” Phillips plays the role of a scapegoat in the official narrative about the ’60s. Everything in his behaviour is wrong, to the point that the whole character becomes rather incredible. Incapable of self-mastery when he’s drunk, “Duck” makes fun of the speaker during an adverstising awards ceremony and tries to defecate in Roger Sterling’s office (believing it’s Don Draper’s) after having been fired from the agency. In spite of all these flaws, he’s always impeccably attired, very charming, and quite well-spoken. He’s also a war hero, having killed 17 Japanese soldiers in the Battle of Okinawa. The message seems to be as follows: when a man is handsome, well-educated, and successful, there must be something deeply wrong about him. This should explain why such types have almost entirely been driven out of Western elites in favor of ugly, incompetent, and sociopathic ones . . . but I digress.

Bert Cooper

Cooper is the other co-founder of the initial agency. Unlike Roger Sterling, who is a generation younger than he, Bert Cooper is a self-conscious conservative. He is very skeptical of “civil rights,” and implicitly asks she-office manager Joan Holloway/Harris to make sure the receptionist girl remains White. Bert Cooper is why conservatives can’t win. Though he disagrees with the triumph of the Moral Left in the ’60s, he never dares express it. Quite symbolically, he lost his testicles in a surgical operation that went wrong. He dies childless and heirless, the day Neil Armstrong sets foot on the Moon. One small step for a man, indeed . . . and one giant leap to the dustbin of history for country-club Republicans.

Conrad Hilton

Speaking of the Moon, the only real character of the series, hotel chain-founder Conrad Hilton (“Uncle Connie”), is a very telling one. He randomly meets Don Draper at a . . . country club, and then becomes a client for a short time. He ends his contract with the agency when Don fails to give him “Hilton on the Moon,” a literal request Don thought was only figurative. In a monologue that leaves the viewer wondering whether Hilton is mentally ill, he displays a worldview that is actually quite typical of the postwar Right:

Can we see “Uncle Connie” as a member of the dispossessed elite? Yes, if we bear in mind who one of his great-granddaughters is.

Lane Pryce

In his three-part review of the series at Counter-Currents, James J. O’Meara defined Lane Pryce as the agency’s sacrificial victim. That is true, though in my opinion, O’Meara doesn’t really explain how Lane Pryce is so. Pryce is a former auditor from the British company that had bought the initial Sterling Cooper agency. Then he becomes a junior partner in the new agency started by Sterling, Cooper and Draper. Due to fiscal problems with the United Kingdom, he tries to steal money from the agency. When Don confronts him about his forged check, Pryce resigns and hangs himself in his own office. I would suggest that Pryce is sacrificed for his very Britishness, the same way the Cosmic America fantasized by Conrad Hilton was born out of the sacrifice of English and British heritage. Jared Harris, who stars as Pryce, looks like the usual caricature of the English people in rival countries: a toad face at the top of a fat, listless body.

Pete Campbell

Pete Campbell is maybe even more representative of this dispossession: being 10 years younger than Don Draper, he has been deprived of his birthright before he was even born. At some point in the series, the viewer learns that his ancestry in America goes back as far as the Mayflower. Yet his father found a way to dilapidate his family’s fortune before dying and leaving his two sons with crumbs. Still believing in the American myth of the self-made-man, Pete thinks he’s going to make up for his father’s failures with hard work, only to discover that the dices have been rigged from the start against young, ambitious men like him (which, of course, is more of a concern for our generation than Pete Campbell’s, who is a baby-boomer; this is not the only way the writers managed to inject contemporary issues into the series). In a half-drunk rant, Campbell expresses his impatience about being patronized by the former generation. That reminds me of something.


I could go on and on, since there’s no shortage of examples, from the clients to the employees, as well as their families.

I keep thinking that the producers wanted to celebrate the replacement of this Old Anglo Elite by a Rainbow Coalition including women, gays, and minorities, chiefly Jews, given that the production crew is predominantly Jewish. In the very first episode, Roger Sterling asks Don Draper whether the agency has ever hired a Jewish copywriter. “Not on my watch,” jokes Don. It’s 1960. In the coming decade however, the agency is going to recruit many Jewish copywriters and Black secretaries.

Nevertheless, to show how hard it was for the Rainbow Coalition to overthrow this Old Anglo Elite, the producers had to depict it as a formidable enemy: a caste of good-looking, refined, well-mannered, educated aristocrats. By thus doing, they made this elite appealing, and many viewers could conclude that they would rather be ruled by such a gang than by the current one.

That said, one could have the same feeling watching Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon (which was arguably the last liberal movie Kubrick made, before he started making conservative films, or outright reactionary ones like Eyes Wide Shut). The 18th-century aristocracy was, in many ways, admirable by its style and its brilliance. But it adopted the set of ideas and values that would lead to the removal of English rule in the thirteen colonies and of the King’s head in Paris. In like manner, Roger Sterling’s capitulation before the sexual revolution and Don Draper’s abandonment of his own family were foreshadowing the Great Erasure that was just about to happen. In the early 60’s, the agency sells a patriarchal and hierarchical American Dream. At the end of this crucial decade, the agency promotes alternative lifetsyles, women’s independence from their husband and family and minorities’ march through the institutions, with the partners hardly noticing this radical shift, and completely ignoring that it might undermine their rule.

Don Draper may embody all a man could dream of being and may succeed in all ways imaginable. He is also the last specimen of a dying breed. Let’s hope that the next European elite will know better and not confuse the Will to Power with the suppression of the very institutions that make it sustainable.

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