Among the historical events depicted in the sixth season of Mad Men were the assassinations of Martin Luther King on April 4, 1968, and Robert F. Kennedy on June 6, 1968. The presence of these men and their murders in the context of a story that aspires to be a Fall myth for modern America reminds us that the culture we have does not resemble the culture we want. When we factor in other references, like Richard Nixon’s rise to power (during a campaign season that also saw Mia Farrow giving birth to the Antichrist in Rosemary’s Baby), and we are reminded of something else: Sometimes, people aren’t what they appear to be, either, often because they don’t know themselves. Or want to. There is a name for a person who acts or speaks contrary to the values they represent or even believe. It isn’t Don Draper (Jon Hamm). And it isn’t Bob Benson (James Wolk), whose cunning fraudulence differs from Don’s because his next-gen brand of disingenuousness is deliberate, specific, and far more controlled. The word is hypocrite. And according to Carl Jung, these toxic beings are hazardous to our health, especially since they are oblivious to their corruption.
”It is under all circumstances an advantage to be in full possession of one’s personality, otherwise the repressed elements will only crop up as a hindrance elsewhere, not just at some unimportant point, but at the very spot where we are most sensitive. If people can be educated to see the shadow-side of their nature clearly, it may be hoped that they will also learn to understand and love their fellow men better. A little less hypocrisy and a little more self-knowledge can only have good results in respect for our neighbor; for we are all too prone to transfer to our fellows the injustice and violence we inflict upon our own natures.”
Mad Men season six was fixated with hypocrisy. It was sometimes difficult to identify and tag, because hypocrites, lacking self-awareness, don’t go around shouting, ”Hey, there! We’re hypocrites!” No: We have television for that. Mad Men was fixated with that this year, too. Madison Avenue image-maker Don Draper — so enamored with the power of TV — watched a lot of news, usually in the company of his budding soap opera star wife, Megan Draper (Jessica Paré); and what they saw — police beating on protestors at the 1968 Democratic Convention; the latest awfulness from the Vietnam quagmire — was, in content and tone, totally at odds with the claims and tone of the consumerism and escapism they sold to the masses. In this way, Mad Men captured the role that the media played during the late ’60s in deconstructing our self-image, opening our eyes to our ugly realities, and changing the way we relate to and regard people of power and influence. (The watershed moment: Watergate.)