I know, I know. This is a TV blog. It’s not a “look at this article” blog. But if you’re here, you like to read and analyze at least a little bit. Or a lot bit.
Remember how I mentioned that John Slattery was… a good sport?… for doing the blackface scene in last week’s “Mad Men?” Well, I just read this interview, in which he answers a few questions about the scene.
Q: What was your reaction when you first heard Roger would be in blackface?
A: Matt [Weiner] told me. He’ll often describe things he’s just written, and I heard him say, “blackface” and “My Old Kentucky Home” and I’m nodding, “Uh huh, sounds great,” just keeping up. And you leave and it sinks in: What the hell did he just say? Then you read the script. I texted Jon Hamm: “Would you do this?” It’s horribly offensive, obviously, but this is the point. This is where we were. It was so commonplace. This is the message, and Roger’s the messenger.
Q: What was it like shooting the scene?
A: You sign on at the beginning, you’re not sure where the character goes, but you need to find a way to go at it 100 percent. If it’s something that Roger finds funny — and he does — you need to get that in there. Also I listened to a lot of Al Jolson.
Ah yes, THE JAZZ SINGER… the very early precursor to The Beastie Boys and Matisyahu. Or something like that.
Even though we talk about how shocking that scene was, Alex Blagg’s recap on Videogum made a good and icky point:
“We like to think that, in this day and age, the overt bigotry on display was distantly odd and unsettling, but I’d bet Roger Sterling money that this past weekend, at both a private estate in the Hamptons and in some secret country club in Alabama, unfathomably wealthy men were painting their faces with shoe polish and ridiculing an entire race of people to the drunken delight of their alcoholic wives in funny hats.”
The ever-astute Thomas told me that when he watched the scene, it looked like Don (Jon Hamm) AND Pete (Vincent Kartheiser) were uncomfortable with the blackface. Is Pete a better guy than we thought? Or is he just uncomfortable, period? (And very dance-y pantsy.)
I once saw Vincent speak at a “Mad Men” panel, and, as the article says, the difference between Vincent and Pete is… shocking. He’s really funny and warm, and seems like a very down-t0-Earth guy. He also LOOKS different.
And if you’re done with that and want MORE interviews, here’s one with Vincent Kartheiser and a feature story about the show (with a fashion spread featuring Jon Hamm and January Jones), both from Vanity Fair (I think the feature story is in the September issue). The feature talks about the INCREDIBLE attention to detail and verisimilitude, in the world of this show.
Happy reading. (If that’s your thing.)