Monday, October 3, 2011

Misplaced nostalgia

An actual tweet:
I LOVE PANAM. WISH I COULD HAVE LIVED BACK THEN AND BECOME A PANAM STEWARDESS. HOW EXCITING !!! #PanAm
This was posted after last night's episode of "Pan Am," in which Christina Ricci's character used a fork to fend off an attempted rape by a drunken passenger only to be hushed by her colleagues (warning her to not jeopardize her job) and ridiculed by a pilot (who tries to mollify the rapist with a scotch). The show doesn't handle the subplot particularly well -- Ricci gets a little you-go-girl moment toward the end of the episode, and I'm assuming that's the last we'll hear of that. And, of course, it's just a minor subplot, not meant to distract from the overall glamor of the show or its basic message, "It was really cool to be a servant." The message apparently got through to the tweeter above.

Compare this attempted rape scene to the portrayal of the rape of Joan by her husband in "Mad Men." It's a truly terrifying scene, even though much of the action occurs off-camera; not only does Joan have no way to stop the assault, but she has no recourse for it afterwards. There was not event a concept of spousal rape for her to report to anyone. It was simply one of those things that some women had to endure in exchange for the security of married life.

"Mad Men" demonstrates the dangers women (even white, educated, relatively successful women) faced fifty years ago by virtue of being women in the United States. "Pan Am" suggests that it was glamorous being a woman then, and that the dangers, while real, could be fended off with utensils and a little pluck.

It's not fair to say that "Pan Am" sucks because it's not as good as "Mad Men" -– few shows are. But it seems to be nostalgic for an era that doesn't necessarily deserve it.

1 comment:

doctor glitter said...

have you noticed that madmen was our maternal grandparents. like, down to the jewelry. unreal to see them on the screen.
it makes me wonder why. why did they do this? why did they choose a life like this.
and why, why wasn't i alive then? it looks incredible!