I’ve recently started watching old episodes of Mad Men. One of my all-time favourite TV shows. It is a show based in the 1960’s looking at the lives of advertising executives who work on Madison Avenue in New York City and seeks to dissect life in that era. These ad men coined themselves ‘Mad Men’. As Malcolm Gladwell put it in his book, The Tipping Point, ‘The sixties were the golden age of Madison Avenue”.
It’s one of those series that is hard to digest – especially with the incredibly blatant sexism, the abuse of women, alcohol, narcotics and status. The level of disrespect towards women, let alone black people, was grotesque and sadly, a socially accepted norm.
So why would I say something like this ‘made me’? Well, with regards to the above, I think Matthew Weiner (the show’s creator) brilliantly exposed the kind of oppression that existed and how such norms began to evolve. He, along with his team, successfully portrayed some of the misconceptions that were prevalent during that era. For example, how pregnant women were OK to smoke disregarding the health of their children; or how, a day at the park ended with families disposing all their litter on the lawn for someone else to pick up. Such disregard for things we are so conscious about these days.
Aside from the obvious reasons to love the show which include the dashing Don Draper, the delectable 60’s fashion, and the impeccably written script, Mad Men sparked a discussion and debate in my life. One to do with my purpose and what I hoped my career would become.
I was intrigued by Don’s genius in spite of his seemingly dark, mysterious and melancholic demeanor. Then there was Peggy Olson. In a world literally run by men, she chose to pursue her desire to be more than a secretary. Her perseverance saw her becoming a female copywriter at a time when it was not plausible. Shout out to Freddie Rumpson & Don for helping her navigate that.
You see, since I was a kid, I have always been fascinated with the advertising industry. I have memories of being a child driving in the car with my mom, pointing out different adverts and how they did or didn’t work. Thanks to life, I was taken on a roller-coaster of uncertainty for a number of years where I was unsure about what exactly I wanted to do or be. I lost my sense of direction for a while, but as I continued to watch the show, the enthusiasm was re-ignited. I knew I wanted to be a Creative Director of some sort. How and what, I was not sure?
I have grappled with this for a while now, and I thankfully continue to do so. Now I find myself working in the advertising industry. Are my questions answered? Not entirely. But I definitely know I am moving along the right path. My calling as it were and I thank God that He didn’t let me lose hope. I believe in life, there are certain moments that make you click or that start up something within you. For me, it came in the form of a TV series that has done incredibly well. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it has great significance for me.
Shout-out to all the artists, creators, dreamers, writers and visionaries out there. It is you who allow us to dream and strive to be who we were meant to be.