@JackiBean: There was a lot more to it than that… there were some really cool fashion trends (and some awful ones that we’ve forgotten) but as we see on mad men (and the reason I LOVE that show) a lot of that beautiful gloss and glamour was like makeup over a bruise.
Social conservatism, materialism, racism and sexism were massive plinths that had barely begun to topple, and because of that, there was a lot of violence going one way or the other during civil rights movements. Social unrest bubbled beneath the perfectly cut and tailored surface.
Funny how I’ve never seen a non-white person daydream gleefully about the 50’s and 60’s. Maybe because race riots and beaten, killed, shut out of communities and employment, and perhaps sprayed with a fire hose doesn’t sound like a good time.
Due to McCarthyism (which planted ideas in people’s minds about how someone living a different lifestyle might be unamerican or bad in in some way), communities were very homogenous and anyone doing anything that wasn’t perfectly normal was shunned – there was much less allowance for going to the beat of your own drum and getting away with it. Anything the slightest bit subversive was beaten into the ground. “The nail that stands up gets hammered down,” as the Japanese say.
Homosexuality was a disease. Sex-negativity was rampant. Atheism was seen as evil (association with Russia.)
Women had unreliable or nonexistent access to reproductive options, and on top of that, divorce was stigmatized and decent careers were hard to come by. All this led to women being trapped in marital cages, unable to experiment for themselves or remove themselves from toxic relationships without suffering massive, sometimes unendurable blows to their lives. Rates per capita of domestic violence and rape were both higher AND more underreported from what we know now.
On the occasions they could even get work, they were expected to work harder, for less money, and would often be treated like sexual or decorative objects in the workplace.
Of course there were amazing things too, but I don’t think we should forget the injustices and damages done and act like it was a beautiful time when children respected their parents, women wore pretty skirts, and everyone was happier.
What I love about Mad Men is how it doesn’t ignore this stuff. It shows this era in a kind of gritty detail, free from nostalgia, that is incredibly refreshing. But also makes it, to my mind, sort of unsuitable as a wedding theme, because that stuff is what the show is about.
Honestly I’m always floored by people who really pull of an era theme, it’s often beautifully done, but I feel like because of that, there’s a difference between “60’s theme wedding” and “Mad Men theme wedding.” At a general era themed wedding, I can accept the shallow style of it, enjoy the visual prettiness, etc. Accept it for what it is, an homage to some good fashion. I mean, I can’t help but love Stop Staring dresses too… But Mad Men is different, because of the obsession with accuracy at its heart.
It’s like the difference between saying you’re having a medieval fantasy themed wedding, vs. a Game of Thrones wedding. If someone you love doesn’t die horribly, I’m pretty sure it’s the first, not the second.
To really make a Mad Men theme complete, the groom would have to be banging bride’s cousin. Then the maid of honor, in her pearls, would have to make a speech featuring racist swears just as a black waiter wordlessly hands her another glass of wine, while the father of the bride says “excuse me” to his wife and goes off to get a hummer from the young lady working the coatroom. That’s the stuff I think of when someone says Mad Men.