April
11th 2010
The “reel” Mad Men?

Posted under: American history, art, fluff, technoskepticism

Look at what I came across on Hulu recently–season 3, episode 8 from Bewitched!  If you recall, either from its original run or from watching endless re-runs of the show after school in the 1970s like me–Samantha’s husband Darrin Stevens was an ad man who worked for Larry Tate at the firm, McMann and Tate.  This episode is all about a rival ad agency’s attempts to steal McMann and Tate’s ideas (and clients): 

This show is an interesting time capsule from 1966 for other reasons:  the use of cutting-edge Cold War spy technology like audio bugs and a gigantic “portable” reel-to-reel tape machine.  Please note:  the business lunch with Darrin and Tate does not appear to have been even a one-martini lunch, let alone a three-martini lunch.  But, Darrin does have a martini at a bar with Tate later in the show.  (I’m not the first person to connect Mad Men to Bewitched, alas–here’s a detailed comparison of Don Draper and Darrin Stevens.)

"Call me Snake."

Speaking representations of technology in pop culture:  hands-down, the funniest representation of future-iffic technology I’ve seen in the past decade came from watching Escape from New York (1981), starring the still-hunky Kurt Russell as Snake Plissken.  As some of you may remember, the movie is a dystopic vision of the city as a prison in 1997.  At one point toward the end of the movie, this mobile phone that must be held with two hands makes a hillarious appearance:

(Thanks to The Boston Globe’s “Braniac” for the screen capture!)  I especially like the huge clips or buckles on the side.  Very cutting-edge!

8 Comments »

8 Responses to “The “reel” Mad Men?”

  1. Comrade PhysioProf on 11 Apr 2010 at 8:31 am #

    Snake Plisskin!? I thought you was dead!

    AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Notorious Ph.D. on 11 Apr 2010 at 9:40 am #

    I’ve been thinking about EfNY lately, as I contemplate my state’s relative budget expenditures for schools versus prisons. It really does seem like the natural conclusion: turn universities into training academies for prison guards.

  3. Historiann on 11 Apr 2010 at 9:59 am #

    Notorious Ph.D.–“I thought your university was already dead!

  4. Janice on 11 Apr 2010 at 12:18 pm #

    Ah, it’s fun to look at futures past. I do remember the 1990s portable phones that were not quite as big as that but close.

    Of course, I also remember watching young men casually stroll through the city, balancing their gigantic boomboxes on their shoulders. How ludicrous that would seem today!

  5. Historiann on 11 Apr 2010 at 2:17 pm #

    Janice–IMHO, it looked pretty ridiculous in the 80s too, but that’s a matter of personal preference. We had the fabulous microtechnology of the walkman tape and CD players–the boom box look was more about “sharing” music with the world rather than enjoying it discretely.

  6. Indyanna on 11 Apr 2010 at 3:22 pm #

    It took quite a while before I could suppress the temptation to hoot when the “Bluetooth” brigades began to invade the public spaces. On a summer seminar in London in 1994, we took the trouble to learn what the word “toff” meant, so as to be able to scathe early adopters of the BT cellphones that were sprouting up. Back in ’66, transistor radios were still fairly status-enhancing (if you were a dorky private school day student, anyway). I’m waiting for consumer devices that would allow you to e-terminate annoying cell phone conversations in enclosed public transportation spaces. I’ve even trademarked a few potential model names: “Diss-connect,” “Dial’em-down,” and–for suburban commuter train monthly passholders only–”Portable Tunnel.”

    Thanks. This was my first Hulu taste test. Speaking of ’66, if you could find some episodes of “Route 66,” that would offer yet another interesting take on the decade, before it went all psychedelic on us.

  7. Katherine on 11 Apr 2010 at 5:05 pm #

    when Minnesota closed down Minn. State at Crookston (Cookston?)in the 80s, they turned the campus into a prison.

  8. Cassandra on 12 Apr 2010 at 11:34 pm #

    Imagine the horror of Don Draper married to Samantha!

    Endora would love him.

    Literally.