Television producers are always a day late and a dollar short.We have a season of 60’s retro shows The Mad Men trend continues to spin-off more copy cat productions. The irony is that Mad Men hasn’t produced another season for well over a year. Contract disputes have thrown the show into limbo, greed is at the bottom of it I’m sure. Banana Republic was real fast to jump on the wagon, seeing the potential in a lucrative tie in to sell their products. Poor B.R. I’m sure it has been a BIG disappointment [not to mention their losses after paying very costly branding rights] I noticed this past spring season they gave it another try. The Mad Men logo was plastered in all their windows, all for naught I suspect, the consumer has a short attention span, “NO show No dough”.
In the meantime Mad Men’s failure to deliver has created a vacuum that others have rushed to fill. I’m sure you have noticed the huge publicity campaigns launched for Pan Am and the Playboy shows. More retro that’s want they want! On one end you the baby boomer’s who are feeling nostalgic and gladly support any sexual enhancement sponsor, while denying that age 60 is “OLD” On the other end you have the married two income 30 somethings who are busy accumulating “stuff” What we have here is a two generation marketing bonanza . It’s about those of us who actually remember smoking at their desk, making a fool of yourself at the Christmas party and two Martini lunches. Then we have those who were but a “gleam in the eye” of a slightly drunk executive as he ogled a Playboy Bunny, back in the 80’s. What a Mix! two generations with 20 to 30 years in between. Both with desire to live in the 60’s.
I remember the 60’s as a time that was not so idyllic. Women were regarded as conquests, mere toys for men’s pleasure. A time when drunken behavior was “Manly” therefore socially acceptable and minorities were not “Created Equal” The reason that why I opted to demonstrate for equal rights, anti-war and an end to corporate greed. The 60’s brought social upheaval and controversy that was partly due to the very thing we now label entertainment, stewardesses who had to wear girdles and Bunnies that were trained to be coy and passive-aggressive liquor pushers. Has everyone forgotten what the 60’s were really about? .. OK I will put away my soap box now.
Pan Am was a disappointment, network television will never have writers of the calibre of HBO or Showtime and to be fair the ability to use four letter words or full frontal. The look of Pan Am very rather good, the time period was accurately presented, but cool cars and great uniforms won’t hide the predictable illicit love affairs and standard soap opera formula that is bound to unfold.
I am also disgruntled over the fact that one of my favorite stand-up comediennes Pam Ann has had her territory invaded. Ann’s hilarious routines as a stewardess predate Pan Am by years. I would throw over Pam Am in a New York second for Ann’s routines in a weekly comedy
As for Playboy, Hefner will never lose his appeal, I will admit I like him despite his exploitation of women. The Playboy Philosophy opened the gates to sexual freedom in the 60’s way beyond the magazine itself, his “Do your Own thing” atitude meshed perfectly with the free spirits of Hippiedom. The photo spreads are now considered the “art” of Playboy, not porn. It’s a strange turn of events that at a time when the Internet leaves nothing to the imagination as far as carnal pursuit, yet his popularity has increased recently. It’s what you don’t see that still stimulates. The Key club concept lends the right amount of exclusivity to appeal to those want-to-be’s who need to live the Playboy fantasy. which is not a bad thing considering the current economic conditions,every guy needs to feel important occasionally. James Bond films use the same tactic, “shaken not stirred” if you please. I think he should revive his “Playboy after Dark” show from the 60’s. Set in a fictitious penthouse he would interview “celebs” who just “dropped by” holding a smart cocktail while wrapped in his trademark smoking jacket. The stuff of perennial appeal, for the “have-nots” [like me] I doubt that the new Playboy series will capture the essence of the sexual revolution that Hugh spear-headed. Expect still another vapid period piece to exploit women and sell product not substance.
For those of us who experienced the real thing, this latest wave of nostalgia marketing might be entertaining, but hardly enlightening. For you succeeding generations, enjoy it, I like the retro aspect as well, but remember the “dark side” that the sponsors will not pay for. Be damn grateful that things have changed.