With my American iTunes account, I was able--I realized last night--to upload the hour-and-a-half series five premiere of "Mad Men" and stayed up until two in the morning watching it. In the aftermath of sunshine the next day, I can't stop thinking about it--especially Megan in the intricacies of her new married role (to Don Draper, that is).
Marriage is on my mind, of course, and all the things that come with it. The quick list for me includes: name changing or keeping, perceived and real power, sexual attraction and disinterest, work (or not), and babies (or not).
My initial reactions to Mad Men's Megan-as-Don's-Wife include that she:
--seems like a child (especially in her "Zou Bisou Bisou" performance, which made me cringe)
--is perceived to be powerful at the office only because she's married to Don
--toys with Don (as in her psuedo-tantrum in her underwear the day after the party)
--pouts to get her way (leaving the office mid-day because Don didn't like her party)
--is hated by most other women because a) she is a babe and b) she "snagged" Don
--is interesting and exciting to men (and incidentally, Sally) because she is a babe
--changes her name (of course, it's the sixties)
--frightens babies because maternity and sexiness are often portrayed as mutually exclusive
I can't believe I'm saying this, but I actually think Bella Swan of the "Twilight" series in her recent marriage to Edward is both more powerful and more interesting.
Bella seems to be having an anxiety attack as she walks down the aisle. (Her recent nightmares have included an altar strewn with bloodied dead bodies. She is, after all, marrying a vampire.) Yet Bella's nerves reflect a kind of seriousness, I propose, about marriage; they serve to acknowledge the hugeness, scariness, and difficulty of committing to another person--the magnitude an profundity of marriage.
Bella does have a few things in common with Megan: she changes her name (at least Edward calls her "Mrs. Cullen" on their island honeymoon) and her (for the most part) conventionally perfect looks are a huge emphasis of the film.
Yet Bella prefers bare feet to the awkwardly tall heels Edward's sis gets her to wear, and--perhaps most importantly--she and Edward seem locked in a kind of shared-power partnership, each keen to love and protect the other, each keen to remain a strong and intact individual, making his or her own decisions. (Alright, so I actually kind of buy it.)
Some distressing elements around gender role do develop, however--like in Edward's control over Bella's access to Jacob, Edward's ownership of the honeymoon plan (a secret), and Bella's total fragility compared to Edward's super vampire strength...
And it gets even more interesting on the honeymoon...
More on sex, pregnancy, and death in a coming post, bringing this all together around Wolf's Beauty Myth and perhaps some related ideas from the other Woolf...