This review is from: Mad Men and Philosophy: Nothing Is as It Seems (Paperback)This is the first effort I read from "The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series". It is a very engaging and entertaining premise with the editors also covering Alice in Wonderland, Twilight, The Daily Show and other subjects in the series. Mad Men would seem to be a natural for philosophical, if not, psychological analysis. I am confident that even if I did not work for an advertising and communications company, I would still watch Mad Men because of the childhood nostalgia for the era and it's oft-recognized authenticity (costumes, sets, historic references).
Where people's views differ about the show is in the plot lines covering infidelities, sexism, racism, and other human foibles that fuel the drama. The book examines a number of these subjects from its various contributors. The intent, I gather, is to add variety of thought but unfortunately there is so much repetition and duplication in the analysis that after the first third of the book it became the law of diminishing returns. I did enjoy the parts dealing with justification and how often we fool ourselves into believing what we are doing is right (as defined by our own moral code).
And it was great to rediscover standpoint theory or standpoint epistemology which I subscribe to because it is predicated on actual experiences. Also Socrates' "passions prevailing over scruples" is a key theme of Mad Men and is linked to the debate of how different being motivated by self-interest is from actually acting on that self-interest. Truly compelling is Plato's belief that "our emotional responses to fictional drama tend to shape how we respond to events in real life". This notion is deserving of a book dedicated to how aspects of society are now shaped by 'reality television'.
The book also ventures into the debate of just how influential or manipulative advertising is in our daily lives. I tend to favor the theory advanced by contributor Kevin Guilfoy and advanced by economist Milton Friedman who "argues that advertising is informative. not persuasive. Don Draper can't create desire, but even if he could it would not cause us to choose." The book covers the first three seasons and I expect it will become source reading for liberal arts sociology and philosophy programs who trove pop culture as a means of connecting with youthful intellectuals.