This is a special post for all the fans of Mad Men. In the following interview, I talk with Natasha Vargas-Cooper, the blogger behind Mad Men Footnotes and a reporter and film critic living in LA.
ephemera: When did you become interested in ephemera related to Mad Men? How'd that interest evolve into a blog?
NVC: Oh man, I was hooked from the get-go. Matt Weiner, Mad Men's creator, was a part of the Sopranos which I consider to be high-art, top notch writing, natural acting, and an acute and witty analysis of American culture. So the concept of Weiner bringing that same touch the advertising world of 1960's, well, the Tivo was set from the start.
What impresses me most about the show, besides Jon Hamm's sad, dreamy eyes is how artfully it captures the zeitgeist of the early 1960's without mythologizing it. I was an American History major in university and loved pouring over all the high-brow and low-brow cultural artifacts from the Modern era. I miss doing that. It's like hearing a few notes from a song and then like a compulsion, you go home and listen to the song over and over. Mad Men sings to me.
Additionally, my favorite bloggers have always been ad men--and women!
ephemera: What challenges or obstacles do you encounter as a blogger? How do you overcome these challenges?
NVC: Saying something original is always tough. I also battle against my own laziness. Sometimes I look up an ad and just say, "Oh, neat. I'll just post this picture of it." but anyone can do that—damn you, Google image search! So, sometimes I have to push myself to scratch down deeper. But everyone benefits from this.
ephemera: Yeah, I struggle against those demons too as a blogger. What are your favorite ephemera items that you've featured on the blog?
NVC: More and more I appreciate the tectonic cultural shift of the early 1960's and how it shook all aspects of society, from politics to nylons. Also, I learned that I must find a way to resurrect Dorothy Draper so she can redesign my apartment and throw classy tea parties with.
- ephemera: What are you future plans for the blog? How do you see it evolving?
I would like to do earn my readers trust and do longer form pieces—nothing past 300 words, but you know a little more than blurbs. I'd like to bring in contributors from the modern ad world and build an interactive community of fans who want to know more about the cultural context of the show. And lastly, I hope Jon Hamm is reading this and knows that I am single and delightful.
Ephemera: Thank you, Natasha.