Tag Archives: opinion

The Tao of Peggy Olson

With AMC’s Mad Men having recently poured its final glass of 9am bourbon, neat, I am left with a moment to reflect on the show whose legacy was always a little bit grander than its reality. And really, isn’t that sort of what we’re all aiming for in life? You’ll see a hundred op/ed pieces on the technical hits or misses of the show, but for me, even though the show was centered around Don Draper, the true protagonist of the series was Peggy Olson. Don’s was a journey that was focused on discovery on self (and probably more than a couple of STDs as well), but Peggy’s was a true battle. A David vs. Goliath struggle where sometimes her Goliath was the ultra-misogynistic corporate workplace of the 1960s and /70s, and sometimes her Goliath was herself. With that in mind, I present a handful of moments that Peggy brought us that will stick with me much longer than Don’s loose views on fidelity and identity theft. And so I present to you:

THE TAO OF PEGGY OLSON

“When I was little, my mom would take a twin pop and break it in half and give one to me and one to my sister. We were completely equal in her eyes. Beloved. Everyone does this with Popsicles, but they may not realize what it means. It has nothing to do with an ice cream truck on a hot summer day. Or the flavor. Or the color. It’s a ritual. You take it, break it, share it, and love it.” —Season 2, Episode 12
• A central theme for Peggy throughout the Mad Men series was that of love. Not just romantic love, but familial love, love in friendship, love in a professional environment, and love of self (or at least learning to accept yourself for who you are). This mini monologue (minilogue?) is a great example of Peggy romanticizing her own past (to a fault, at times) for the sake of remembering the good and the love that surrounded her, rather than focusing on the negative aspects of life. Classic Peggy.

“Every time something good happens, something bad happens.”  —s4,e11
• Peggy’s strength as a character (and as a person) isn’t that she’s blindly naive and ignorantly optimistic, it’s that she sees the world for the crappy, run down mess that it is…but chooses to hope anyway. Anyone can live a sheltered life and think the world a perfectly pleasant place, the real challenge is to continue to seek after your ideals in spite of adversity. If Peggy was a pro boxer, she wouldn’t be a one-punch wonder, she’d be the sort of marathon fighter who wears you out by taking hit after hit for twelve rounds and staying on her feet till the final bell. And in life you’re going to have a lot more knockdown, drag-out fights to endure than quick, Muhammad Ali-esque 15-second KO’s. Be built for the full twelve.

“Well, I’m fun! And I love to have…fun.” —s3,e4
• For the pitch perfect pitchman she became (pitchwoman? Pitchperson?), Peggy was always a little too humble to really sell herself, and we see that here in her awkward attempt to sound…well, fun, on a first date. Even though she struggles to really sell herself for the great gal she is in this particular instance, she manages to get to the heart of “free time Peggy,” which is that even though her work/life balance might have been a little uneven at times, at her core she’s still just a girl who wants to have fun, and be fun to be around to others. Despite how intense her career focus could be at times, you still get the idea that she found fun in her work, and wanted others to find the fun in theirs as well (as long as it didn’t compromise the quality of the final product). Remember kids: Be fun, have fun. It’s what Peggy would want.

“Don Draper: That’s how this works. I pay you for ideas.
Peggy Olson: You never say ‘Thank you.’
Don Draper: That’s what the money is for!” —s4,e7
• Despite her eventual rise to the top creative ranks in the ad agency world, Peggy was never in it for the money or the power or even the acclaim…she was in it for the respect that she knew she deserved and the recognition of her talent in a world that tried repeatedly to write her off. A recurring theme throughout the series is Peggy working out her daddy issues through Don (sometimes effectively, sometimes not), and ultimately having the revelation that we all need to have: someone else’s approval is never going to replace or validate our own self worth. I know a lot of us feel under-appreciated and even unloved in our professional and/or personal lives, but the moral of the story is that it’s up to us to know that we have value, rather than waiting for the accolades of the outside world that may or may not ever arrive. Easier said than done, perhaps, but worth the effort nonetheless.

“Don’t do anything stupid.” —s6,e5
• At the end of the day (one of my all-time most hated clichés, but gets the point across), we almost always know the right thing we should say or do or not do in a given situation, but the real test of mettle is whether or not we can act on that knowledge, to resist the easy path in favor of the more difficult one, even if it’s less rewarding or we won’t get any recognition for doing so. How many times in your life have you looked back on something you regret and thought, “Geez, that was stupid…I knew better”? And you’re right, you did! The difficulty lies in having the willpower to not do the stupid thing in front of you, no matter how appealing it might be in the moment. A daily battle for most of us (or at least me), but a battle worth fighting, even if the victories are more infrequent than the failures. But just know that in spite of your past mistakes, you have ability to make the right choice the next time. And the next time. And the time after that. I’m pulling for you. And so is Peggy Olson. I’ll even buy you a shot of bourbon when you get there. Good luck and God bless.
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Play on,
Dustin

…Want more Mind Bullets? New posts go up every other Wednesday at noon PST (or as close to that as I feel like), and you can subscribe if you want them delivered right to your inbox! …Or if you’re too impatient to wait that long you can follow me on twitter, instagramyoutube (new videos every Monday), and my boring personal website. Whew, that’s a lot of self promotion…even I don’t like me enough to keep up with all that.

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The Most Oscarful Time of the Year

For someone who has literally nothing to do the vast majority of the time, I sure do seem to stay crazy busy. It feels like this is the first moment I’ve had to breathe in half a year. That said, let’s make some Oscar picks, shall we?

Note: Categories are presented in no particular order, and picks are being made regardless of whether or not I’ve see all the films in a given category.

Best Actor:
Right away I’m torn for several reasons.
—George Clooney probably gave the best performance in Up in the Air, but he’s won so much already that it’s almost boring to see him get it.
—I like Jeff Bridges, but I think Crazy Heart is overhyped and not that great of a movie.
—Morgan Freeman seems like the go-to guy since you know he did a good job, and likely has the fewest years of eligibility (aka life) left in him.
—I don’t like Colin Firth, and furthermore can’t in good conscience select someone whose resume includes Love Actually, What a Girl Wants and the Bridget Jones series.
—Jeremy Renner did an ok job in Hurt Locker, but it’s just not the kind of character I like to see win.

Pick: Morgan Freeman. Eh, why not? Besides, he might smite us if we don’t give it to him.

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Gang Green is Here to Stay!

Hello, friend! If you’re anything like me, you’re an attention-starved 6’2” Caucasian male that weighs a little over 150lbs and has a love for asparagus that’s almost as odd as the matching, circular birthmarks on my upper chest (I’ve just been informed that in the world of medical science, these are referred to as “nipples.” Fascinating). As a fellow graduate from a small, private liberal arts college, I’m sure you’re as excited as I am that Earth Day is finally here, and that we can finally do our part to help the environment. By planting a tree. Yep, that’s all you have to do. Planting one small sapling is all it takes to reverse the effects of hundreds of years of modern industry that has ravaged our planet – not to mention the irreversible damage that each of us does every single day, simply by continuing to exist. Sounds wacky, I know, but all it takes is planting that one tree, or riding the bus for one day, or blah blah blah…I’m just kidding. No one gives a rip about the environment, and Earth Day is for suckers. My contribution to my grandchildren’s future is going to be paying for a lifetime of swimming lessons for them in advance. That way, when the polar icecaps finally go all Wicked-Witch of the West on us, my progeny will be the ones who can hold their breath the longest and talk to dolphins, while your guys’ grandkids are gonna be the chumps who are drinking their own urine out of a Brita filter, Waterworld style. There are billboards scattered all over LA telling us to leave our cars at home today and not to drive anyplace. Um yeah, I don’t know what day it is on your “Girls of the Greenhouse” calendar, but out here in the real world, it’s Tuesday, and that’s a weekday, so I’m driving my car to work. End of debate. If you want to pay me what I would’ve made at work to stay home for the day instead, or call my boss and explain why I was two-and-a-half hours late because I took the bus; then we’ll talk. But other than that, I’ll see you on the 405 along with the hundred thousand other heartless bastards out there who care more about contributing to their 401k than to their children’s future environment. Cheers.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, on to things that people actually care about.

-It’s Business Time-
If you have ever laughed, smiled, smirked, grinned, giggled, guffawed, chortled – or are ever planning on doing any of those things at some point in the future – then do yourself a favor and go buy the Flight of the Conchords CD which is in stores as of today. I’m a mere 11 minutes from sprinting out of the office to my nearest Barnes & Noble to pick up my own copy. If you’re not a total masochist, you’ll purchase season 1 of their equally-hilarious HBO sitcom as well. Laugh your arse off, amuse your friends with bad impressions of New Zealanders’ accents, and behave pretentiously to your friends who think “According to Jim” is a funny show.

-The Humans Are Dead-
If you still want to ease your Earth Day-related guilt, maybe try eating at Chipotle – they’re known for killing animals and pinto beans in as environmentally-friendly way as possible. And I’m pretty sure their paper products are printed on material that’s entirely recycled from the ashes of the Native Americans whom we killed in order to colonize this great country of ours.

-Leggy Blonde-
Finally, in my last piece of mood-elevating advice for the day, go buy Thrice’s new CD, The Alchemy Index, Vols. III & IV (Vols. I & II came out late last year, but are also worth picking up). Even if you haven’t been a fan of their stuff in the past, let me assure you that everyone can find something they like about The Alchemy Index, and it’s great music to simultaneously reflect upon your life with, or rock out to if you’re looking to get pumped up. If you buy it and aren’t 100% satisfied, just come track me down and I’ll switch out your copy with Ashlee Simpson’s latest release – since you clearly have no taste in music and probably wouldn’t know the difference. We’ll save Thrice’s art-rock masterpiece for someone who doesn’t know all the words to the song “Get Low.”

That’s it for now, see you little rascals in the future.
Dustin

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