Monday, March 7, 2011

The Soprano - Draper Paradox

The regular Joe is a first born. That means I had to fight my parents for all the rights my younger brothers later took for granted.  Yeah I know, I’m a hero. It also means that my brother could get away with a lot of things I couldn’t. I remember it came as a bit of a shock back then. To think I’m trying as hard as I can to earn my gold stars so I can later leverage it to my own benefit.
And here you have this little brat who acts out, do whatever he wants and somehow gets the same privileges I’ve worked so hard for.  That’s when I first realized that action and result don’t always correlate and that the world is not fair (I was a bright kid).

That same feeling struck me one evening while watching TV with my special lady friend. Don Draper just called his beautiful wife (January Jones – we love her) to tell her he’ll be working late.  From our deep acquaintance with Don we know what that means. To put into simple words, he lied to his wife so he can go sleep with another woman he just met.  Of course somewhere in the back of my head I thought; “man, this Draper guy is cool. I want to be him”.
Imagine my surprise when my special lady friend expressed her affection to Mr. Draper out loud or in other words… “He is so hot”.

 When I started to show interest in the opposite sex, I was told (by girls and TV) that women like guys who are kind, giving and understanding (and have a cool bike). And it usually proved itself. As long as I managed to fake interest and caring, everything was solid.

Every time I get involved in a relationship, I know that with all the perks, revoking some freedoms I used to have is inevitable. I should always try to be nice even when I don’t feel like it, I can’t participate in any sexual activity with none other than my significant other, I probably have to account for my whereabouts and my doings every minute of the day… yeah I know… why would any man put himself in that kind of a situation? Because we are willing to pay the price and sacrifice our freedom in order to maintain a relationship with our chosen one.

So imagine my surprise when my woman is walking around the house for 3 months talking about how Don Draper is the perfect man.

Let’s get one thing clear, Don Draper is truly one of the most impressive characters ever seen on or off the screen.  I love him and I want to be him, no doubt. But that’s coming from the back of my head, where I hide most of my dark desires and vices. The place every man hides his evil twin which when takes control might prevent him from acting as a part of society.

I believe that my girlfriend is going through the same process with Don we all went through with Tony Soprano.  Yes he is bad and unfaithful but that’s because he is too good looking to be with just one woman. Or he is so special he doesn’t get what he needs at home. We find ourselves starting to make excuses for these guys. Or maybe the excuses are for us. So we can justify our feelings towards these characters. 
Tony Soprano is the head of a crime organization that basically ruin the life of everyone who comes across his path. He cheats on his wife, his friends and family but still we love him, we want to be him, we want to talk like him and most of all we want him to beat the bad guys (which are actually the good guys).

That’s why it is so irritating.  These guys live like we wish we could and get away with it while gaining our sympathy and worse, our women.

What are the chances that if I acted like Don Draper or Tony Soprano my girlfriend will stay with me?  No way!!! There is no way any woman I know would tolerate half of what these guys are up to.
When a guy wants a girl to break-up with him, that’s when he starts to behave in the Soprano-Draper way.

So what is it that makes self confident, highly respectable, more or less normal women to melt in front of guys that represent all the things they keep fighting against?

The weird thing about it is that women never want to be Betty Draper or Carmela Soprano.  They want to be that Russian girl Tony has on the side, or Don’s secretary.  These women, who make you sleep on the couch just because you add a skinny girl as a Facebook friend, are exposed in their double standard when it comes to their TV crush.
I just want to grab her and say “I’m like that!!! All men are shit on the inside!!! Really!!! We just pretend being nice and stuff!!! I have to work late today!!”
So what is it? What’s the formula? It would be a shame if the Regular Joe finds out he was a nice guy for nothing all those years. It’s really hard.

The only comfort I get is maybe trying to think about it from another point of view.
Let’s face it. We as men haven’t been totally upfront either. We also are usually attracted to women very much different than the ones we end up choosing. Most men would tell they want an Adriana Lima – Marisa Miller hybrid model type that her pajamas include stockings and high hills, considers Jenna Jameson and Sasha Grey to be role models, cooks like iron chef and is cool like Gwen Stefani.
So how many of you told your girlfriend that the Sports Illustrated swimsuit models are too thin, and that you love your meat really burnt and dry or that you hate porn because it lacks feelings?

So what is the conclusion of all that? Are we all bad boys and girls pretending to be nice while fantasizing about other bad boys and girls?

My guess is no. No woman wants to find out her boyfriend is a lying, cheating, two-face heavy drinker that flirts with anything with a pulse. But the power of the TV medium is so great; it gives us a chance to explore, 5-6 hours a week, the endless possibilities life has to offer.  If it is to beat the crap out of every person that bugs us or sleep around with the number one ad person in NYC.

Like every question in life, if you dig deep enough you will be presented with only more questions. A big part of our survival instincts is the constant search for other options, evaluation of alternative ways of living. After we saw them and know they exist we may relax, turn them off with the remote and kiss our special friend good night.
And it never hurts to talk in a low voice and comb your hair sideways. Just in case.

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