Get Real: The US drama “Mad Men” isn’t worthy or inauthentic, like its British counterparts
A defining notion of modern morality is that the line between good and evil runs within, rather than between, people. If criminals commit terrible crimes, the sophisticated response is to say that they were the victims of circumstances — poverty, Western provocation, child abuse, etc. We cannot condemn because we cannot predict how badly we would have behaved in the same circumstances. I know that moral courage means the ability to resist when others would give in. But there’s no use arguing. Right-thinking people realised that George W. Bush was dangerous when, without embarrassment, he denounced the “Axis of Evil”. What a simpleton he was.
When they turn to fiction, however, the same people enter a cartoon world, where goodies and baddies might as well wear white and black hats. In British TV, novels and theatre, the voice of the Sunday school teacher drowns all others. I am not just talking about soap opera and pulp fiction, which one expects to heed Miss Prism in The Importance of Being Earnest: “The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what Fiction means.” Serious writers are equally predictable.
Let William Boyd stand for them all..