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TV Talk: MAD MEN 5.11 “The Other Woman”

Oof. Hulk takes on this gutpunch of an episode of the brilliant series. 

TV Talk: MAD MEN 5.11 “The Other Woman”

EPISODE #: 5.11

EPISODE TITLE: "THE OTHER WOMAN"

FAVORITE QUOTE: "She was a queen!"

OVERALL IMPRESSION:

"At last, something beautiful you can truly own."

GINSBERG UNLEASHES THIS SLOGAN TO DON AND AT THAT VERY MOMENT THEY KNOW THEY HAVE THE WINNER, SOMETHING THAT MAKES THEIR JAGUAR CAMPAIGN TRULY RESONATE. AND AT THE CENTER OF THIS SLOGAN IS THE BELIEF THAT WHILE THIS CAR CAN BE OWNED, BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE (ERGO PEOPLE IN GENERAL) ARE NOT SOMETHING THAT CAN BE OWNED.

BUT WE SURE AS HELL CAN TRY.

... OOF.

ASIDE FROM THE CENTRAL BIT OF OBVIOUS PROSTITUTING, THERE IS A NUMBER OF INSTANCES OF MEN TRYING TO OWN WOMEN IN THIS EPISODE. HECK, MONEY, SEX AND POWER COAT THE WALLS OF EVERY SINGLE SCENE. AND IT'S NO MISTAKE THAT MONEY, SEX AND POWER ARE OFTEN CONSIDERED TO BE THE FOUNDATION OF ADVERTISING - OR EVEN MORE SADLY, THE FOUNDATION OF SOCIETY, IF YOU'RE A BIT MORE CYNICAL ABOUT THINGS.

AS FAR AS THE NAME OF THE EPISODE ITSELF, IT HAS BECOME A SOMEWHAT SILLY TRADITION FOR HULK TO MISS THE OVERT REFERENCE OF THE TITLE SOMEWHERE IN THE EPISODE. SO LET'S SEE IF THAT CONTINUES? STILL, THIS WEEK WE HAVE THE CAR ITSELF, THE TITULAR "MISTRESS" THEY HAVE TO WOO. BUT TO HULK IT IS QUITE CLEAR THAT THERE SO MANY DUPLICITOUS MEANINGS OF "THE OTHER WOMAN." SO MUCH SO THAT IT ALMOST BECOMES ALL ENCOMPASSING. NOT JUST JOAN HAVING TO PLAY THE ROLE, BUT THE WAY THAT ALL OUR PRINCIPAL FEMALE CHARACTERS BECOME BOGGED DOWN IN LITERAL OR FIGURATIVE "OTHERNESS," AND HAVE TO COMBAT THEIR ALLEGIANCES TO LOVE, FRIENDSHIP, SOCIETY AND SELF-RESPECT.

AND THE QUESTION IS WITH ALL THOSE ALLEGIANCES IS... WHAT LOSES?

- JOAN -

JUST TWO EPISODES HULK WAS BEMOANING THE LACK OF JOAN THIS SEASON. WELL, AFTER LAST WEEK'S FLIRTATIOUS FIREWORKS AND THIS WEEK'S TOTAL FOCUS IT SAFE TO SAY THAT THERE WAS A LOT OF JOAN-CENTRIC PLOTTING IN STORE. PERHAPS HULK SHOULD NOT HAVE WISHED FOR IT. BECAUSE WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE PATH OF THE LAST TWO WEEKS AND THE SET-UP OF JOAN AN DON IN LAST WEEK'S EPISODE, WELL... IT ENDED UP BEING A GESTURE OF HEART-BREAKING PERFECTION. NOT JUST IN TERMS OF DIVERTING MERE EXPECTATIONS AND GETTING US CAUGHT UP IN THE "WILL THEY" / "WON'T THEY" HYSTERICS, BUT IT GROUNDED THEM SO THOROUGHLY IN OUR HEARTS AS TO MAKE THIS WEEK'S EVENTS FEEL LIKE A FUCKING GUTSHOT.

THINK ABOUT EVERY THING FROM THAT SCENE LAST WEEK. DON'S RESPECT FOR HER. THEIR MUTUAL, OLD WORLD CLASSICISM. AND EVEN THE WAY DON REMAINS HOPEFUL FOR JOAN FINDING "THE RIGHT GUY"... UGH. TURNS OUT THE RIGHT GUY FOR HER WAS A DISGUSTING LEECH OF A CAR DEALER, WHOSE COMPLETE LACK OF HUMANITY ENDS UP BEING REVOLTING ENOUGH TO SECURE HER A DEAL FOR SCDP PARTNERSHIP. WHILE THE HONOR OF PARTNERSHIP GOES BEYOND A MERE TASTELESS SUM OF MONEY, IT IS STILL THE SAME IMPLICATION. THE PARTNERS ALL KNOW IT. AND JOAN KNOWS IT MORE THAN ANYONE: THEY WERE BOUGHT. SHE WAS BOUGHT.

BUT LET US NOT FOR ONE SECOND THROW THIS IN JOAN'S FACE IN ANY WAY, SHAPE OR FORM. THIS IS NOT ABOUT THAT AND HER CHOICE IS HER CHOICE. NO ONE WOULD BLINK TWICE IF ROGER STERLING SLEPT WITH SOME OLD MILLIONAIRE COUGAR TO LAND AN ACCOUNT. PEOPLE WOULD PROBABLY LAUGH AND CHALK IT UP TO BEING FUNNY. SO PLEASE DON'T BRING ANY OF THAT DOUBLE STANDARD IN HERE. AND LET'S NOT START TELLING WOMEN WHAT THEY CAN OR CAN'T DO WITH THEIR BODIES. WE KNOW JOAN WELL ENOUGH TO NOT CAST ANY MORAL ASPERSIONS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS ON HER. SHE CERTAINLY DESERVES FAR MORE THAN THAT.

THE TRUTH IS THAT IF THERE IS ANY REASON WE SHOULDN'T BE COMFORTABLE WITH WHAT HAPPENS, WELL, IT'S BECAUSE JOAN WASN'T REALLY COMFORTABLE WITH IT. AND ULTIMATELY, SHE DID IT FOR MANY REASONS.

HERE'S A WHOLE HISTORY OF THEM:

THIS DECISION WAS ABOUT THE WAY HER EX-HUSBAND RAPED HER AND SHE FELT POWERLESS TO STOP IT UNTIL SHE WAS READY TO KICK HIM OUT FOR GOOD; A DECISION THAT GOT HER SERVED WITH DIVORCE PAPERS. THERE IS THE RUEFUL ADMISSION THAT JOAN HAS ACTUALLY PLAYED "THE OTHER WOMAN" BEFORE IN HER RELATIONSHIP WITH ROGER (WHICH INFORMS HER BEING UPSET WHEN HE AGREES TO THE EVENT). THIS DECISION WAS ABOUT THE SET OF CIRCUMSTANCES AND CHOICES LEFT TO A SINGLE MOTHER. AND MORE THAN ALL OF THAT, THIS WAS ABOUT THE DISGUSTING MANNER IN WHICH PETE CAMPBELL FLOATED THE IDEA TO HER AND EVEN TRIED TO MAKE HER FEEL GUILTY ABOUT IT. THIS WAS ABOUT BURT COOPER'S ANCIENT "LET HER KNOW, SHE CAN STILL SAY NO." THIS WAS ABOUT ROGER REMOVING GUILT BY SAYING HE "WOULDN'T PAY FOR IT." THIS WAS ABOUT THE WAY THAT ALL THEIR PERSONAL INDIGNATION AND ALL THEIR CONCERNS WERE DISSIPATED IN THE NAME OF FUCKING "GETTING A CAR."  AND BECAUSE OF THAT, THEY ALL GOT PRETTY OKAY WITH THE FACT THAT THEY PIMPED OUT SOMEONE THEY ALL SUPPOSEDLY ADORED.

AND TO MAKE IT ALL THE MORE TOUGH TO TAKE, TO MAKE DON'S SOLE REFUSAL THE MORE SOMBER... MAD MEN PLAYS A HAND IT RARELY DOES, AND UNLEASHES A NARRATIVE TRICK OF TIMELINING THE EVENTS. THUS, DON LEAPED TO JOAN'S RESCUE WHEN, UNBEKNOWNST TO HIM, THE DAMAGE WAS ALREADY DONE. IT'S A GESTURE OF WHITE-KNIGHT-LIKE BEHAVIOR THAT CAN ONLY FEEL SOMEWHAT CRUEL TO HER IN HINDSIGHT.

THE GRAY AREA OF MORALISM HANGS THROUGHOUT EVERYTHING. THE STAKES WERE IMPOSSIBLY HIGH, YET ETHEREAL. JUST LAST WEEK DON SAID THAT EVERYTHING DEPENDS ON WHEN AN AGENCY "GETS THEIR CAR." AND SO WE SEE THE LENGTHS THEY GO TO ASSURE IT. THEY HAVE BARTERED AWAY THEIR OWN PERSONAL MORALS.

DON SAYS IT HIMSELF ABOUT MEN AND BEAUTIFUL THINGS: "THE DIFFERENCE IS HE CAN HAVE A JAGUAR."

OH, BUT THE SADDEST TRUTH OF ALL IS THAT HE CAN HAVE THE WOMAN TOO. IT JUST TAKES ENOUGH MONEY AND POWER.

AND IT JUST TAKES ENOUGH PERSONAL HORROR.

- PEGGY -

PEGGY STARTED THE EPISODE JUST WANTING TO BE VALUED.

WE FIRST SEE HER LOOKING AT LOBSTER THROUGH THE GLASS, ALL MEANT FOR GINSBERG AND THE CAR GUYS WORKING (SLIGHTLY) HARD FOR THEIR TREATS. LATER, SHE HAS AN IMPROMPTU VICTORY SUBBING FOR GINSBERG AND WHEN SHE INNOCENTLY INQUIRES ABOUT HOW SHE CAN'T SEE THE AD THROUGH, DON ANGRILY RETORTS: "YOU WANT TO GO TO PARIS. HERE GO TO PARIS!" AND DOES THE MOST INSULTING THING HE'S PROBABLY EVER DONE BY THROWING MONEY IN HER FACE. AND SHE'S HURT BY THIS. BY EVERYTHING ABOUT IT: BEING TOSSED ONTO THE JOB WITH NO CONSIDERATION. BY BEING TOSSED OFF OF IT WITH NO CONSIDERATION. AND WORST OF ALL, DON MISTAKENLY BOILED DOWN HER DISAPPOINTMENT TO THE ASSUMPTION THAT SHE JUST WANTED TO GO TO PARIS.

AT THAT'S THE MOMENT SHE IMPLICITLY KNEW.

SURE IT TOOK A LUNCH WITH FREDDY (FREDDY IS BACK!) WITH HIS GOOD OLD SENSE OF DECENCY TO POINT HER IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION, BUT THAT'S WHAT HE DID. HE HOOKED HER UP WITH A NEW GIG. HE EVEN HAD GOOD ENOUGH SENSE TO KNOW "CAR GUYS ARE A BUNCH OF CREEPS." BUT REALLY IT'S PEGGY'S RETORT THAT RINGS THE MORE TRUE: "THEY'RE ALL A BUNCH OF CREEPS." AND SHE WAS RIGHT. BY THE END OF THE DAY THEY'LL ALL BE CREEPS.

AND THEN WE HAPPEN TO DISCOVER THAT TED CHAOUGH MIGHT JUST BE A PERSON TOO. WHO WOULDA THUNK? WE'VE SEEM HIM BE QUITE THE SHIT BEFORE. BUT HEY, HE SEEMED GENUINE. AND SURE, MAYBE HE JUST WANTED SOMETHING OF DON DRAPER'S (IT WOULD BE ANOTHER LEVEL OF OWNERSHIP NOW, WOULDN'T IT?). BUT TRUTHFULLY, WE DON'T KNOW YET. THE POINT IS THAT WHAT TED OFFERS HER, AND MORE IMPORTANTLY WHAT HE AND THE SITUATION GIVE HER EMOTIONALLY, REALLY DOES SEEM MUCH BETTER THAN DON'S COMPLETE LACK OF CARE.

AND DON REALLY DIDN'T CARE. HE TOOK HER SO MUCH FOR GRANTED THAT IT WASN'T EVEN FUNNY. HECK, IN THEIR HEARTBREAKING GOODBYE DON DOES EVERY. SINGLE. WRONG. THING. HE SAYS "A GIRL" CAN'T BE PUT ON JAGUAR (PEGGY'S VERY MUCH A WOMAN, THANK YOU). HE APOLOGIZES FOR JOAN BEING MADE PARTNER. HE GUILTS HER WITH THE FACT HE GAVE HER EVERYTHING (WHEN WE ALL KNOW SHE FUCKING EARNED IT, IF NOT MORE). HE ASKS HER TO NAME A PRICE. HE TAKES IT PERSONALLY. AND WHEN ALL IS LOST, IN A QUIET MOMENT OF DESPERATION, HE EVEN GIVES A KISS ON HER HAND. IT'S QUIET. BEAUTIFUL. KIND. BUT IT WAS STILL ALL WRONG.

THAT'S NOT THEM. AND WHAT PEGGY WANTED FROM DON IS FOR HIM TO GIVE HER WHAT TED CHAOUGH GAVE TO HER. SOMETHING SO SIMPLE. REALLY, SHE JUST WANTED HIM TO FULFILL THE PROMISE HE MADE AT THE END OF THE SEASON 3 FINALE, WHERE HE SAID HE'D NEVER LET HER GO AND ALWAYS CHASE HER.

... HE NEVER MADE GOOD ON THAT PROMISE.

PEGGY WANTED TO BE INVALUABLE.

... AND DON HAD A ROOM FULL OF FREELANCERS TO GET BY WITH.

- MEGAN -

AND SO MEGAN HAS ANOTHER PLAY AUDITION. DON CALLOUSLY SAYS "YOU'RE GOOD AT AUDITIONING" TO WHICH SHE OBVIOUSLY REPLIES "NOT AS GOOD AS THE GIRLS WHO GET PARTS." THIS TIME IT'S FOR LITTLE MURDERS (A GREAT PLAY BY THE WAY) AND IT'S MORE SUBVERSIVE STUFF. AND MEGAN GETS A CALLBACK, AT WHICH POINT SHE LETS DON KNOW THE PLAY IS IN BOSTON. CUE FIGHT. CUE DON SAYING "JUST KEEP DOING WHATEVER THE HELL YOU WANT."

BUT THE THEME OF INDEPENDENCE AND OWNERSHIP ONLY GOES SO FAR IN TERMS OF MEGAN THUMBING HER NOSE. HER AUDITION (TO OUR EYES) CONSISTS OF NOTHING MORE THAN THREE MEN LOOKING AT HER AND TELLING HER TO "TURN AROUND PLEASE." IT'S ALL A VERITABLE MEAT MARKET. AND IT'S SO TOUGH TO WATCH MEGAN SMILE THROUGH IT. SHE KNOWS.

BUT BEYOND THIS SADNESS IS THE FACT THAT MEGAN IS FORCING DON TO COME TO GRIPS WITH THE CONSEQUENCES OF HIS DUALITY. HE DOESN'T WANT HER TO FAIL, BUT HE DOESN'T WANT TO LET HER DO THE THINGS THAT WILL HELP HER SUCCEED. AND HE'S GOT TO COME TO GRIPS WITH THAT. NOT JUST IN A PSYCHOLOGICAL, AFFIRMATIVE WAY. BUT IN A REALISTIC WAY. BECAUSE MEGAN MAKES IT PERFECTLY CLEAR. SHE'S "NOT GOING TO FAIL."

AND FORGIVE HULK FOR SKIPPING OVER IT EARLIER, BUT HULK REALLY WANTED TO END MEGAN'S SECTION BY TALKING ABOUT ANOTHER SCENE FROM EARLIER. MEGAN AND HER FRIEND JULIA SHOW UP AT THE OFFICE TO SAY HELLO (NOTE GINSBERG AND THE FREELANCERS BUILDING A LITERAL HOUSE OF CARDS). BUT IT SEEMS THERE WERE ULTERIOR MOTIVES AS MEGAN TAKES DON INSIDE HIS OFFICE FOR A LITTLE "CONFIDENCE GAINING" ... COUGH COUGH. MEANWHILE, OUT IN THE CONFERENCE ROOM JULIA PLAYS THE PART OF THE SHORT-SKIRTED JAGUAR WHO CAN OR CANNOT "BE TAMED." BUT GINSBERG ISN'T LOOKING AT HER. HE LOOKS AT DON'S OFFICE. AND THEN HE NOTES, "SHE JUST COMES AND GOES AS SHE PLEASES, HUH?"

AND THUS CENTRAL SLOGAN GOBSMACKS HIM. THAT'S WHEN HE FIGURES OUT WHAT DON WANTS AND WHAT THE GOOD LOOKING GUY WHO HAS EVERYTHING DOESN'T ACTUALLY HAVE...

HE DOESN'T HAVE OWNERSHIP OF WOMEN.

- DON -

SO OF COURSE, IN THIS EPISODE HE ESSENTIALLY "LOSES" THREE WOMEN IN HIS LIFE.

HE LOSES JOAN, PEGGY AND MEGAN IN DIFFERENT WAYS. PEGGY IS OBVIOUSLY THE MOST CONCRETE. SHE'S LEAVING THE COMPANY. AND HULK GETS THE IDEA THAT DON WON'T EVEN REALIZE HOW MUCH HE MISSES AND NEEDS HER UNTIL LATER. AND JUST BEFORE THAT HE LOSES MEGAN TO THE REALITY OF HER CAREER. WHO KNOWS HOW HE'LL REALLY RESPOND WHEN THE CHIPS FALL WHERE THEY MAY.

AND THEN DON LOSES JOAN IN THAT SOMEWHAT SENTIMENTAL IDEA THAT SHE'S PURE. IT'S A LOSS THAT ONLY EXISTS INSIDE HIS HEAD, BUT IT IS A LOSS TO HIM (ESPECIALLY BECAUSE DON MIGHT THINK SHE JUST IGNORED HIS ADVICE AND DID IT ANYWAY AND THAT IT WASN'T A MATTER OF HIS BEING TOO LATE). BUT DON'S WORRYING FOR JOAN GOES TO A PLACE SO MUCH DEEPER, ONE THAT MIGHT BE ONE OF THE MOST PERSONAL OUT OF THE THREE IN A WEIRD WAY.

IN CASE YOU FORGOT, DON IS THE SON OF A PROSTITUTE. IT IS A REALITY THAT HAS HAUNTED HIM HIS ENTIRE LIFE. HE'S RUN FROM IT EVERY CHANCE HE'S HAD. AND AS MANY CRAZY, HORRIBLE WOMEN ISSUES HE HAS IN HIS LIFE THE IDEA OF ACTUALLY "BUYING A WOMAN" WITH MONEY HAS BEEN THE MOST REVOLTING TO HIM. HIS EXPLOITS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN ABOUT SO MANY OTHER ISSUES AND EMOTIONS. IT'S NEVER BEEN SO NAKEDLY CONVENTIONAL AS THAT ONE.

SO WHEN GINSBERG MAKES THE PITCH, HE KNOWS THE ONE HE REALLY HAS TO SELL IT TO IS DON.

AND IT IS DON WHO MUST MOST COME TO GRIPS WITH THE SIMPLE, INESCAPABLE FACT...

THAT DESPITE HIS DICHOTOMY, HE DOESN'T OWN ANY OF THE WOMEN IN HIS LIFE.

... NOR SHOULD HE.

- PETE AND EVERYONE FUCKING ELSE -

THE ETHICS OF BUSINESS ARE WHAT WE MAKE OF THEM.

THIS HAS BEEN TRUE FOR A LONG TIME. FOR INSTANCE, AT A CERTAIN POINT IN AMERICAN BUSINESS WE REALIZED THAT THE ONLY THING THAT WAS STOPPING US FROM DOING HOSTILE TAKEOVERS WAS THAT WE PUBLICLY LOOKED DOWN ON THEM. IT TOOK ONE COMPANY TO SAY "SCREW IT" AND BE SUCCESSFUL AT IT. AFTER THAT? EVERYONE ELSE FELL IN LINE WHEN THEY SAW WHAT WAS TO BE GAINED.

AND IT'S THE SAME STORY OF HOW STERLING COOPER DRAPER PRYCE SOLD THEIR SECRETARY.

PETE CAMPBELL IS, QUITE FRANKLY, OFFICIALLY BACK TO BEING A SCUMBAG. EARLIER THIS YEAR HULK ACKNOWLEDGED THAT HE WAS RAPIDLY BECOMING ONE OF HULK'S FAVORITE CHARACTERS (MOSTLY DUE TO THE FACT THAT HIS A BOYISH CARICATURE SET AGAINST THE OLD TIMEY VALUES WAS BEING PLAYED FOR LAUGHS). BUT THIS YEAR, ALL THE OLD PETE CAMPBELL STUFF HAS JUST BEEN VOMITED OUT AGAIN. THE LECHEROUSNESS. THE INSOLENCE. THE REVOLTING SMARM.

AND NEVER WAS HE SO REVOLTING AS THIS EPISODE. HE BRAZENLY PITCHES TO JOAN, NOT EVEN ATTEMPTING TO FEIGN INCREDULITY. HE BRAZENLY SELLS THE OTHER PARTNERS ON HALF-TRUTHS, COAXING EVERYONE ALONG TO JUST KEEP THEIR EYES ON THE BOTTOM LINE AND SAY THEY'RE OKAY WITH IT. IT'S NOT EVEN LIKE SOME IAGO-ISH RUSE. HE'S JUST BATTERING THEM BLUNTLY WITH ASSURANCES. AND ALL THE MEN OF SCDP (SAVE FOR DON) FALL LIKE DOMINOES IN THE WAKE OF HIS BLINDING LACK OF COMPASSION. SURE, THEY ALL MAKE SOME SORT OF BARGAIN WITH CONSCIENCE BUT NONE OF THEM STAND UP FOR IT: STERLING OMITS BUT "WON'T PAY FOR IT." COOPER GOES ALONG WITH IT ONLY IF SHE KNOWS SHE DOESN'T HAVE TO DO IT. PRYCE BARGAINS BY CONVINCING HER TO TAKE A MUCH BETTER DEAL (ADMITTEDLY, ONE WHICH WOULD ALSO SAVE THEM 50K IN THE SHORT TERM, THUS SAVING HIS OWN ASS).

IT JUST TOOK ONE BRAZEN ASSHOLE TO TAKE IT SERIOUSLY AND THEY ALL FELL.

AND TO THINK, IF HE MADE SUCH SNIDE COMMENTS ABOUT LANE OUTLIVING HIS USEFULNESS THE MOMENT HE FIRED THEM, WHAT WOULD PETE CAMPBELL SAY TO JOAN WHEN THE NEXT CLIENT COMES TO TOWN.

- RANDOM THOUGHTS -

-HATRED OF PETE IN THIS EPISODE DOESN'T STOP HULK FROM ENJOYING SOME FANTASTIC KARTHEISER LINE DELIVERY: "Do you consider Cleopatra a prostitute?" / "Where do you get this stuff?" / "She was a queen!"

- OTHER DIALOGUE GEM: "It will take five seconds." / "Five seconds isn't enough to sit down."

-"Which one is he?" / "He's not bad." / "He's doing this."

- MEGAN ASKS, "Doesn't being a mistress make the car immoral?" AND DON REPLIES "The word will not be in the ad." BECAUSE IT'S ALWAYS ABOUT SAYING THE WORD WITHOUT ACTUALLY SAYING THE WORD. AND LIKEWISE IT'S ABOUT DOING THE THING WITHOUT ACTUALLY SAYING THE WORD.

- AMONG PETE'S REASONS FOR WANTING A (CHEATING) APARTMENT IN THE CITY "There's no good night noises anywhere!"

- EXPECT MORE FALLOUT FROM ROGER POSSIBLY?

- THE KINKS "YOU REALLY GOT ME GOING" HAS NEVER SOUNDED MORE INSIDIOUS.

AND LASTLY, A PERSONAL HULK-NOTE

SO... MEN ARE WEIRD ABOUT FEMALE SEXUALITY.

LET'S JUST TALK ABOUT THIS FOR A SECOND. THERE'S OBVIOUS FACT THAT THE MEN OF SCDP WERE SO WILLING TO PIMP OUT JOAN AND THAT'S ITS OWN SPECIAL BRAND OF HORRIBLENESS. AND THEN OUR OWN REACTIONS MIGHT NOT BE ALL THE BETTER. FOR INSTANCE, HULK MENTIONED THE DOUBLE STANDARD OF THE STERLING/COUGAR HYPOTHETICAL ABOVE. BUT HULK IS ALSO WILLING TO SUGGEST THAT A GOOD DEAL OF MEN FELT SO DISGUSTED ON BEHALF OF JOAN. THAT THEY WERE SADDENED, INCENSED AND FELT SICKENED. A GOOD DEAL OF THIS IS A MATTER OF EMPATHY, BECAUSE OF THE WAY JOAN WAS SICKENED BY IT TOO.

BUT HULK TALKING ABOUT SOMETHING A LITTLE MORE SPECIFIC HERE. HULK TALKING ABOUT THE WAY MEN COULD FEEL POSSESSIVE OVER JOAN'S SEXUALITY AND FEEL THAT SHE HAS SOMEHOW BEEN MITIGATED IN SEXUAL TERMS IN THIS EPISODE. IT MAY SEEM TO THE AUDIENCE THAT THEY ARE JUST UPSET ON HER BEHALF, BUT REALLY IT SPEAKS TO SOMETHING DEEPER ABOUT THE WAY MEN REGARD THE "PURE" SEXUALITY OF WOMEN. TO BE SURE HULK PERUSED A FEW COMMENT SECTIONS ELSEWHERE, AND YUP, THIS SENTIMENT CROPPED UP A GOOD DEAL.

HULK WOULD LIKE TO SUGGEST THAT THIS IS ITS OWN KIND OF ATTEMPT AT OWNERSHIP.

LET'S GO MACRO: WE LIVE IN A SHAME CULTURE. WOMEN GET CRITICIZED FOR THEIR CHOICES, THEIR HISTORIES, THEIR SEXUAL EXPRESSION, THEIR LACK OF SEXUAL EXPRESSION. IT IS A CAVALCADE OF MIXED MESSAGES, ALTERING DEMANDS AND SHOCKING INCONGRUITY. AND IT IS A NIGHTMARE FOR ANY ADULT PERSON, LET ALONE A YOUNG GIRL, TO NAVIGATE. AND THAT IS BECAUSE THE STANDARDS ARE QUITE LITERALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO LIVE UP TO. ONE CAN ONLY BE A PERSON THE SAME AS ANY OTHER MALE INDIVIDUAL WOULD BE.

AND HULK HAS TO SAY THAT IT FEELS LIKE SOME OF THE ANGER EXPRESSED AT JOAN'S SITUATION IS ACTIVATED BY THAT SAME PART OF THE BRAIN WHERE DEVOTED BOYFRIENDS AND FATHERS CAN'T DEAL WITH OR PSYCHOLOGICALLY PROCESS THE SEXUAL ASSAULT OR "TAINTING" OF THEIR LOVED ONES. WHICH, IN A WAY, CAN BE JUST AS DAMAGING LONG TERM AS THE TRAUMA ITSELF. IT'S ALL SOMETHING THAT TRANSPOSES BACK TO THE SAME PURITY MYTH. THAT FEMALE SEXUALITY CANNOT BE A NORMALIZED THING LIKE MALE SEXUALITY (HENCE THE DEMAND FOR DICHOTOMY). AND PLEASE, LET'S NOT PRETEND THAT SEXUAL ASSAULT IS AN ALIEN CONCEPT OR A HYPOTHETICAL. THE NUMBERS AND REALITIES ARE STAGGERING AND HULK CAN ASSURE YOU THAT WE'VE ALL HAD FRIENDS OR GIRLFRIENDS WHO HAVE BEEN VICTIMIZED BY IT.

SO THERE JUST HAS TO BE A WAY FOR THE MALE MIND TO PSYCHOLOGICALLY DEAL WITH THIS.

FEMALE SEXUALITY, WHETHER GOOD. BAD. WANTON. CHASTE. SOCIETAL. INDISCRIMINATE... IT DOES NOT BELONG TO MEN. YES, IT'S CLEARLY NOT SOMETHING TO BE BOUGHT OR SOLD, BUT LIKEWISE IT DOESN'T HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE FOUGHT OVER OR EVEN FEARED FOR. AND GOING DOWN ANY OF THESE PATHS ONLY COLLABORATES WITH THE HORRIBLE DICHOTOMY WE'VE CREATED:

WIFE/MISTRESS. MADONNA/WHORE. PICK YOUR CLASSIFICATION. THE INABILITY OF THE MALE MIND TO RECONCILE BETWEEN THE TWO IS PERHAPS FAR MORE DAMAGING THAN ANYTHING.

WE SHOULDN'T HAVE OWNERSHIP OF A WOMEN'S SEXUALITY IN ANY SENSE. IT ONLY BELONGS TO THE INDIVIDUAL, JUST AS EVERYTHING DOES. AND WE ALL JUST WANT TO BE ACCEPTED AND TO FEEL LIKE WE HAVE CONTROL.

AND BEYOND THE THROES OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, THIS PERSONAL HULK NOTE MEANS NO ILL WILL, OR SENSE OF ACCUSATION. IT IS ONLY A PLEA TO BE HEARD IN AN ASTOUNDINGLY NUANCED ISSUE. IT'S INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT TO NAVIGATE THESE WATERS.

WE ALL JUST WANT TO BE ACCEPTED AND TO HAVE CONTROL.

WHICH MAKES IT ALL THE MORE WEIRD THAT HULK IS GOING TO END THIS WITH A LITTLE QUOTE THAT'S BEEN MAKING THE TABLOID NEWS ROUNDS LATELY. IT MAY NOT SEEM LIKE IT FITS, BUT HULK REALLY THINK IT FITS TONALLY SO WE'LL TRY IT... WILL SMITH LET HIS DAUGHTER WILLOW SHAVE HER HEAD. WHEN PROMPTED AS TO WHY HE WOULD LET HIS DAUGHTER DO SUCH A "BOLD" THING, HE SAID THE FOLLOWING, WHICH HULK FOUND... RATHER RESONANT GIVEN THE TOPIC.

HERE:

We let Willow cut her hair. When you have a little girl, it's like how can you teach her that you're in control of her body? If I teach her that I'm in charge of whether or not she can touch her hair, she's going to replace me with some other man when she goes out in the world. She can't cut my hair but that's her hair. She has got to have command of her body. So when she goes out into the world, she's going out with a command that it is hers. She is used to making those decisions herself. We try to keep giving them those decisions until they can hold the full weight of their lives.

...

THE ENTIRE EPISODE OTHER PEOPLE TALKED ABOUT JOAN'S SEXUALITY. THEY TALKED ABOUT PEGGY'S LOYALTY. THEY TALKED ABOUT MEGAN'S CAREER.

AND ALL THE PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT THEM, DIDN'T OWN THEM.

Film Crit Hulk's photo About the Author: FILM CRIT HULK WAS CREATED IN A CHAOTIC LAB EXPERIMENT INVOLVING GAMMA RADIATION, TELEPODS, AND THE GHOST OF PAULINE KAEL. NOW HULK HAVE DEEP AND ABIDING LOVE CINEMA.
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