Mad Men: Cultural Identity in Early 1960s America

by   |  04.21.10  |  Film and Visual Art

Below are links to two, 4-minute recaps of episodes from the AMC tv show Mad Men. These clips present only highlights from these episodes, so the transitions between scenes are abrupt and may be difficult to follow. However, these scenes present a taste of an imagined culture in early 1960s America that should be somewhat coherent. The main characters are men and women who work in a New York advertising firm or are family members of these ad men. While watching, pay attention to the visual rhetoric and language elements that deal with cultural or social identity. After viewing the clips, please work in groups of threes and post responses to the following questions as a comment to this blog post:

  1. Who are the members of your group?
  2. What do you notice about the men in this culture?
  3. What do you notice about the women in this culture?
  4. How would you describe the interactions between men and women in these scenes?
  5. How would you describe employer-employee relationships in this culture?
  6. Do these clips present any elements of racial identity? If so, how? and to what effect?
  7. From a rhetorical perspective, while thinking about cultural or social identity, what might be one of the persuasive goals behind these clips?

Recap Clip #1: “Guy Walks into an Advertising Agency”

Recap Clip #2: “Wee Small Hours”