Asshole of the Month: Don Draper By Andrew Cahak
I wrote the majority of this while naked.
On Sunday, April 7th, Don Draper came back into our lives. It’s been over a year since last we saw him, amidst the high rises of New York City and now we find him in a tropical paradise, still, somehow, quietly implacable amongst the surf and luxury suites and TV star wife. Life doesn’t get much better for a man of his age in the late 1960’s. He should be happy, capital-H “Happy,” but he’s restless; he’s drinking alone at the hotel bar at 4AM.
When the offices of Sterling Cooper Draper (Pryce?) are visited by a photographer a week later, everyone seems to be able to pose comfortably. Everyone but Don. Finally, unsure of how to sit for the camera, he asks the photographer: “What do you want me to do?” And of course, ironically, the photographer tells him to do the one thing he has no idea how to do: “I want you to be yourself.”
There’s something alluring about Don Draper that is utterly inescapable and of course, dangerous. We want him to win. We want him to befriend interesting people, like a drunken G.I. on R&R. We want him to come up with the perfect, killer ad campaign. We want him to have interesting exchanges about life and death with the friendly surgeon in his building.We want him to be everything we want ourselves to be. And most of the time, he is. Except when he’s barfing at funerals or thoughtlessly throwing away a soldier’s personalized Zippo without a second thought. Or subconsciously pitching a hotel chain an ad that implies suicide at a luxury resort. Or fucking the friendly surgeon’s wife.
Watching Don do these things, it’s hard not to lose a bit of yourself in him. Even when you want to judge him for his decisions, it’s hard to blame him. You’d struggle with the the dilemmas, too. Don’s a mirror like that. He's not just who you want to be, he's who you want him to be. Of course he regrets everything rotten he does, even when he is able to play it cool. Self-loathing comes to him as naturally as his uncanny skill at constructing elegant, effortless ad campaign. But that never stops him. That refusal, that almost pathological urge to self-destruct, that’s why he’s an asshole and probably why you’re an asshole, too
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