Once upon a time in the west – and in gritty noir backlots – rough and ready men carried guns, drank hard liquor, and made violence a part of their daily lot. That’s the way they were portrayed, at least. And the idea of “real men” inhabiting a cushy mid-town Manhattan office building was a ludicrous as, say, Cary Grant’s Roger Thornhill being a secret agent in North by Northwest.
See, Hitchcock got the joke.
But as David Hinckley points out in today’s Daily News, our idea of tough guys has changed.
“Mad Men” also reflects something else that’s been brewing on TV for quite a while, however: a long-term shift in the professions to which we look for swagger.
Once upon a time, American swagger was largely defined by physical guys like cowboys, G-men, explorers and soldiers. Think John Wayne.
Sure, there’s always been swagger in other fields of endeavor. While Wild Bill Hickok was galloping through the West, robber barons like Cornelius Vanderbilt, Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan were accumulating insane levels of wealth simply because there was no one to stop them.
But in general, swagger once had a blue-collar aura, reflected in the Westerns that dominated early television.
Live-blogging of the frustrating and fascinating Mad Men continues tonight. [Note: our hosts at Yahoo appear to be on the slow side tonight, so bear with us and dump that crappy YHOO stock.]
Live-blogging has moved here.