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Tomorrowland and Groundhog Day and Me

October 18, 2010

Joan Kelly says she kept waiting for Megan or Don to wake up because their engagement seemed like a dream. I understand. Although I did not feel like it was a dream, I recognize the dreamlike qualities, specifically when it gears toward suspension. Weiner has captured the juxtaposition of suspension and dreams, hence, the over appropriate use of Sonny and Cher’s song “I Got You Babe,” to end Tomorrowland. In the movie, Groundhog Day, “I Got You Babe” is the song that wakes up Phil Connors every morning. Personally, ending the episode of Tomorrowland with “I Got You Babe” is very coincidental to what I am going through psychologically.

It was just last Thursday afternoon that my poor daughter had to hear me bear my soul, something that happens when I am overwhelmingly frustrated. She claims she doesn’t mind, just, “Why does it have to happen in the car?” We began the conversation about the rain, or what one could call rain out here. It has been typical October weather. I can recall several Halloweens associated with a light rain, or for people who are accustomed to actual rain, a continuous mist. I welcome the mist. In southern California, particularly along the coast, the weather is the same, every day, day in, day out, the same perfect 68 -78 degree weather, sunny, light breeze, etc. People who are not used to coastal Southern California weather tend to be in awe of its majesty at first meeting. Maybe it is not a handicap for people born and raised here, but to me, it is my prison. I love stories, I love memories, and I especially love remembering memories by remembering the time of the year those memories happened. That is difficult to do in California, thus the reason I believe I tend to lump the last twelve years into one. Before I lived in California, I just had to think of the season and I could recall the year and month when an event happened in my life. Now, it just is. The reality is, you can get too much of a good thing (particularly, the weather) and it is driving me fucking crazy. I want to need a coat. I want to need an umbrella. I want to get wet because I’d forgotten an umbrella. I want to cross a bloody fucking river!

During my rant, and there was nothing particularly bothering me at the time, I had a revelation and screamed out, IT IS FUCKING GROUNDHOG DAY! EVERY FUCKING DAY IS GROUNDHOG DAY. The problem is, Phil Connors has the luxury to move forward if he changes his evil ways. Don is stuck in Groundhog Day because instead of facing his past, in which Dr. Faye was trying to push him into, he prefers reverting to the safety of familiarity, –Groundhog Day. He ain’t ready for February 3, but he certainly has the means if he had the courage (He earned around $500,000 when SCDP was sold to the British).

Again, this is another monumental difference not afforded to people without means. I’ve known many of people who self-reflect and are psychologically ready to move forward but lack the means to do so physically, as in moving and changing something that is suppressing growth (moving forward), as in an unhappy woman with several children leaving a husband who she has become financially dependent. Or someone who knows they must change careers or go to school and simply cannot afford to leave work or lose the small medical insurance they currently have, or stop looking for work and go to school if they are in fact among the unemployed.

Then there are examples (fictitious or otherwise) of people who have all the means in the world, yet they remain trapped in a psychological prison of their own making. Nothing physical is keeping the Dons of the world from moving forward. However, he is rooted for by the masses while the abused woman is asked why doesn’t she just leave or the unemployed is asked, why don’t you just take a job at McDonald’s until you can find something better.

I just want to fucking scream. Oppression is Groundhog Day!

What happens if one is in a metaphorically physical and psychological prison? Is it as glamorous as the rich man’s Groundhog Day? Or like the paralysis theme James Joyce visits repeatedly in Dubliners. Or the residuals of slavery. There is nothing glamorous about paralysis. Paralysis suck, well it does if you are aware of it.

Peggy and Joan do not know it yet, but they too are living in Groundhog Day, –sexism works on a continuous time loop.

What a lovely scene when Peggy and Joan griped about Don and Megan. Not that either one is jealous. I will not accept that conclusion from anyone. Joan has the baby she wants, unfortunately, she has a rapist husband, who isn’t the father, but maybe that nasty bastard will die in Vietnam. I mean honestly. He is able to call all the way from Vietnam and all he can worry about is if her breasts are getting bigger. Of course, she wasn’t much better, focusing her conversation on Don. Just goes to show that their union isn’t satisfying. And it is not like Peggy wanted Don, I think she was truly bothered by the fact that she didn’t get any glory for bringing in some money to SCDP, something if a male had done would have trumped a marriage announcement. At first I thought Joan succumbs to social pressure in wanting a baby, but now I think she is slowly realizing she must make a life for herself outside of work. If work will not bring her satisfaction then maybe a baby will. Peggy is still hoping that work will satisfy her life. Unfortunately, for Joan and Peggy it is not just a matter of them changing their evil ways. Unlike Don, their problems are bigger than the personal.

9 Comments
  1. la redactora permalink
    October 18, 2010 10:17 pm

    “What a lovely scene when Peggy and Joan griped about Don and Megan. Not that either one is jealous. I will not accept that conclusion from anyone. ”

    I agree, and I loved that scene. It’s like, geeze, finally. I doubt it will last though.

    I think we are meant to think that Don’s problems are more than just personal, because of his “real family” (dead, poor) and his pretending to be someone else, and so therefore we are supposed to think that he has all sorts of complexes around that. But I don’t really buy it, not entirely, anyway. Yes, he is extremely insecure about his background and tries to make up for it with sheen, etc, he feels like a “fake.” Presumably the problem is that he “needs” their (the bigwhigs) approval, “needs” to be let into the club. But that too is a prison of his own making, sure, he has the kids to support, but there is nothing, but the writers and Jon Hamm’s contract, that is keeping Don from walking away from SCDP and going off to just about anywhere. And then we’ll learn his real name was Robert Zimmerman all along! ;-).

    “I want to need an umbrella. I want to get wet because I’d forgotten an umbrella. I want to cross a bloody fucking river! ” Ha.

    I didn’t get to watch the first half of the episode, but I hear Betty fired Carla?

    • October 18, 2010 11:17 pm

      Yeah Betty fired Carla. I think it is a big whoop even though I have read many people making a big deal of it. She would have probably fired her when they moved. Of course, it was an overreaction. However, I do think if Carla was going to be complicit with Sally and creepy kid (I cannot think of his name right now), she should have made him come downstairs. It was very inappropriate to let that boy go up to her room. What is his damn name? Not giving Carla a reference is taking Betty’s little tantrum a bit too far. One would think she would be cooled off by then. You know, something happened to those women in that time frame, women who were around 25-35 in the mid sixties. Of all the women I know now who would have been around that age, I can say they all clearly have a case of arrested development. Betty is acting as if that creepy kid was her boyfriend, not a friend of Sally’s. Also, I think more people who watch and comment should keep time into context. Not time as in, it was 1965, but as in pace. If a person were emotionally immature, they would not have grown that much in such a short span. Maybe, I observed the emotional antics of too many people in my life, or something, but to me, Betty is not the monster she is made out to be. Those kids will survive. As far as Henry wagging his finger. Live with it Bucko. He was so busy trying to jump in and play hero that he didn’t bother to get to know Betty.

  2. October 19, 2010 6:33 pm

    I’ve found that you can watch previous episodes of Mad Men online – I’ve been watching season 2. I’m nowhere near caught up with you lot yet, though!

    However, I agree about the arrested development thing – at least as far as I see it played out in Mad Men. Betty and that Glenn kid from down the road had a weird sort of thing going on, too, when she gave him a lock of her hair, and then in a later episode, when Don and Betty were having problems, Glenn ran away and she took him inside and gave him sandwiches and they sat together on the couch holding hands. She was more comfortable pretending to be the same age as him than she was pretending to be a grown-up with Don.

    • October 19, 2010 6:49 pm

      I can’t remember if it was during season 2 or season 3 when Betty’s father grabbed her breast and said, “Let’s go upstairs.” Supposedly, his illness-induced confusion caused him to mistake Betty (his daughter) with his wife. It has been said they look a lot alike. The mother must have died young, but I don’t know from what. There does not seem to be many other indicators that Betty was molested, instead most focus around her being raised to look beautiful and never taught anything else. However, this is a big however and it is stretching subtlety to the max, I wonder if something happened to Sally when she was 7 years old. Maybe grandpa did something. I don’t know, but she tells the therapist that she does not like the number 7. Is that just something she throws out or does it have meaning. She couldn’t have been 7 when Bobby was born, she had to have been younger. We will see, I guess.

      By the way, I watched the first three series/seasons on DVD and only stayed in real time with season/series 4. Since each series/seasons is a whole year apart, there is plenty of time to catch up. Can you believe it; it only comes out in July and runs to October. I love the slow pace. Love it, love it, love it. I know people who are used to a characters having conflicts, revelations and then resolutions all in 44 minutes will not appreciate Mad Men. That’s why I wish people would get off Betty and the monster moniker. She is no more of a monster than many other women who have been stuck with children before they had the realization that they were in fact stuck. Betty says over and over when she is griping at Don, “I have the children 24/7” and viewers just scoff and say, “Well she has Carla.” Yes, she does, but, Carla is not a live-in. However, Don doesn’t even have to worry about coming home (when he was married to Betty and when he is not). Yet, viewers are quick to say what a great father Don is, or has the potential to be, but Betty, she is a monster. Whatever. And Don keeps Betty on a tight budget. There was an episode in which she found his stash of money/cash in a drawer and then she asked him if he had some cash and he said, “Stop by the bank, you should have at least $200 in there.” In other words, he is keeping track of every penny she spends. Not that she is in want of anything, just saying. His money is not her money.

    • October 19, 2010 7:17 pm

      Oh god, yes, season two, when her dad grabs her breast. I wondered, too, at that point, whether there had been some sexual abuse. I guess we will find out at some point, if there has been.

      I really love the slow pace, too. It is amazing how the characters develop – it is more novelistic than any screenwriting I’ve ever seen. And I also love, and this will probably make me sound like an idiot, but I really love the way they light the sets. They often look like paintings, or photographs, that you just want to look at and explore for ages. They put all the emotional complexity of the stories into the lighting and set design. That is a big part of what I love about this show.

      Eventually I will catch up – I’m actually watching series 4 as it is shown on the bbc here, but it’s about five episodes behind you, and at the same time I’m watching series 2 and slowly working my way through that.

    • October 19, 2010 7:29 pm

      I loathe the episodes in which Don is having affairs. Not for the normal reasons, such as he is cheating on Betty, although there is that, I just think they are too long and boring, i.e. Midge, Rachel, Bobbie, and the school teacher. Yuck, yuck, yuck, and yuck. None of those scenes are/were sexy, they were just sex with Don. Oh, and have you got to when he went missing in California for a month? There is more sex with some young girl, —whose father consents. That episode was just sordid. That whole grifter clan was sordid.

      And it had/has more of that dreamlike quality that California seems to invoke.

    • October 19, 2010 7:57 pm

      I just watched that one last night. Sordid is the right word. I also don’t know what anyone sees in Don. He has literally no sex appeal whatsoever, as far as I can see. Nothing that happened in California was real to him, none of the women he sleeps with are real to him, not even Betty. He is soulless. It is like people project their desires onto him, and he reflects them back – he is actually nothing special, I don’t think. I have never seen him be brilliant, or kind, or funny, or brave. Yet somehow all this is how other people see him and respond to him.

  3. October 19, 2010 8:03 pm

    Don, as well as Peggy start getting substance in the episode “The Suitcase.” But, if I remember, a lot of fill in for Peggy is in Season 3. The whole priest/Catholic stuff. That is some major baggage.

  4. joankelly6000 permalink
    October 19, 2010 9:33 pm

    Kitty there is not enough time right now for me to say all the ways I love this post and your subsequent comments. You make me see things in/about the show and characters beyond what I first feel when watching.

    I will say, I don’t know where I’ve been, because I was actually shocked that this was the season finale! I was like, “wait, it’s only been a few weeks, what the hell?” But I guess it’s been a couple of months. But I have to watch television all year, don’t producers understand??

    Also, I think it’s in another thread that you talk about taking Mad Men for what it’s worth, etc. –

    There are for sure things that are too hateful on different axes (is that the plural of axis?) for me to consume, in entertainment. And sometimes it even differs with just what mood I’m in. I mean, I walked out in a huff from that Schwarzenegger movie True Lies, at the part where Jamie Lee Curtis’ character becomes a fake-prostitute, and he fake-is-her-customer. I’ve seen it on TV once or twice since then, seen parts of it, including that part, and though it’s no less misogynist, it doesn’t make me steaming mad each time.

    I don’t know if it’s that I’m having to constantly filter out as much misogyny, for one example, as possible in order to just function each day without being consumed by despair about it, and maybe there are just specific things in specific times and places that “trigger” me (ha!). Or if I really am simply that fickle.

    But I love movies and tv and music and commercials and infomercials and magazines and books and… if I had to limit my intake of these things to whatever I could find that was not white male supremacist in any way, I’d never get to watch/read/hear a fucking thing. So I do take things for what they are, and love the things about them that give me pleasure, intellectually or emotionally or acoustically or whatever.

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