Rush Limbaugh has been all over Mad Men this week, and as you might expect with a TV show about the 1960s revolution in pop culture, his ideological take was almost directly opposite to the discussion in all the recap blogs.
Naturally, Rush saw Mad Men’s depiction of the struggles of women to be fairly compensated for their work, represented by characters like Peggy and Joan, as a form of “militant feminism,” which, he says, “totally screwed up human nature.” Because the women’s refusal to be little more than sex objects “made everybody question what they naturally felt like doing,” cads like Roger and Pete could no longer chase them around the office as brazenly. These “natural behavioral roles,” Rush goes on, “were not automatically questioned and doubted and attacked until the late sixties, when this all intensified.” And as we all know, he’s been the prime victim of such attacks ever since.
But Rush’s complaints about the finale, which he feels TV critics have marched in “lockstep” to deem as “brilliant,” were even more revealing. The series ends, of course, with Don Draper chanting Om on a hilltop at Big Sur, finding a measure of peace and enlightenment at last. Then the screen filled with one of the most iconic ads ever, Coca-Cola’s 1971 “Hilltop,” in which a young, multicultural cast sing, “I’d like the buy the world a Coke…”
The inspiration that brought Don back to advertising was, in effect, the antithesis of Rush’s many shibboleths—it was racially and ethnically inclusive; it dreamt of peace and harmony; it practically cried, “One Worldism.” And young women (dressed in shapeless hippie garb, like embroidered peasant shirts) led the idealistic anthem. Visually, it was a radical statement of late ’60s hope.
But for Rush, “the so-called brilliance in the finale was gonna be way over everybody’s head” because most of the audience knows nothing “about the real-life McCann Erickson.” Both the fictional Don and the actual adman who created “Hilltop,” Bill Backer, worked for McCann. Backer got his inspiration not by Om-ing out at a peacenik retreat but by watching how people stranded at an airport cafe in Ireland bonded by drinking a river of Coke.