Ultra Swank - Retro Adventures

Where are all the Good People?

Written by Koop Kooper • July 3rd, 2013
Where are all the Good People?

It was contemporary artist Jack Johnson who asked the question “Where’d all the good people go? I’ve been changing channels, I don’t see them on the TV shows. Where’d all the good people go?”

I was watching Mad Men the other night and seeing all the antics of the characters it got me thinking about the people of the late sixties and how the show only portrays the characters who fool around on their wives, who drink too much, smoke too much, took drugs, stayed out late and those who would seriously sell their grandmother for an account, and it struck me as both one dimensional and also probably not true to reality.

Sure the goings on in Sterling Cooper and partners most probably went on in real life as they do today but what about the square Joes and the good girls who wouldn’t dream of this kind of behavior. Not everybody lived such a cavalier risk taking lifestyle.

Majority of the folks I know who lived through this period were pretty conservative types and led fairly uninteresting lives. Some might have been religious, but a lot would have felt that this kind of misbehavior wasn’t the societal norm. Sure they heard about the adventures of others, but generally this was not how people behaved.

Early in Mad Men people critiqued the show for its authenticity and questioned the lack of “black characters”, well I think its about time we look at the reality of societal behavior and I would suggest that a lot of went on just simply wasn’t so.

I realize that the square Joes and good girls don’t make interesting viewing, but I would think that you could put characters in the show who are like this who are challenged by scenarios. They may or may not be tempted but that is part of life.

We are led to believe that there was an underbelly that the wholesome advertising world doesn’t show, I believe that it may be the other way around. Perhaps this is just part of our cynical world that likes us to believe that whatever were doing is ok because everybody else is and if you can’t see them doing it then clearly they were.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating some right wing traditional values need to be the pillar of TV shows, I am a purest when it comes to history so I like to see things portrayed just right which is why I pose the question “Where did All the Good People Go?”

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Koop Kooper

Koop Kooper is the host of The Cocktail Nation, He's also a writer, voiceover artist and known around Sydney as a hepster, always on the lookout for new crazy music.

Find out more about Koop Kooper

  • Beth

    You hit on it — average people don’t make for interesting tv viewing. That’s it in a nutshell.

  • Baron von Swankenstein

    One complaint “Mad Men” often gets is that it exists in a bubble and the outside world never creeps in. Personally, I think it was the creator’s intent to select only a microcosm of the larger 1960s world and to only play in that “sandbox.” It makes research and controlling historical details much easier and allows for more in-depth character development. I mean, really, “Mad Men” isn’t about the whole of the 1960s; It’s about Don Draper, New York advertising executive of the 1960s.

    As for the verisimilitude of the behavior of the main characters, that all depends on time, place, and personal temperament. For example, my father was an in-house advertising man for Lion Oil when it was still owned by Monsanto in the early 60s. And, if my father’s life-long association with Alcoholics Anonymous is any indication, on-the-job drinking by mid- and high-level executives was de rigueur then.

  • I agree. I can’t remember seeing any exterior shots of Manhattan or any of its landmarks (come on Pan Am building). Shouldn’t be too hard to recreate in a green screen environment in Los Angeles, and I doubt it’s a budget issue. It was however nice to see some Palm Spring scenes a few seasons ago along with the trip to the Disneyland Hotel. Seems they are in favor of showing California over New York city?

  • Diego

    This is an interesting article and thank you Ultraswank for posting it (and thank you Koop Kooper for Cocktail Nation).

    Considering that the “good people” in the 1950’s and 60’s were portrayed in shows like Leave It to Beaver and Ozzie and Harriet, I wonder if the producers of Mad Men aren’t just trying to set the record straight. The real life problems of Ricky Nelson, for example, were of almost tragic proportions compared to his brotherly bickering on the show. I’ve only watched a couple of episodes of Mad Men and I was more disappointed with what I thought were mistakes in costuming and make-up than with whatever problems engaged the characters.

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