The Real Mad Men

GHS lecture by Stan Deaton focuses on role of business in post-WWII Georgia and America

Updated September 30, 2015 at 4:40 p.m.

Stan Deaton

THE BIG Georgia History Festival main event isn’t until February, but the Savannah-based Georgia Historical Society is revving up for this year’s shindig with a lecture by their resident Senior Historian and all around awesome dude, Stan Deaton.

Deaton gives the Keynote Address this Thursday evening entitled “The Birth of the American Dream: How the Real Mad Men Changed the World.”

The title seems self-explanatory, but drill down a bit and tell about the focus of your talk.

Stan Deaton: Our focus in this year’s Georgia History Festival is business and its role on affecting history over the last 50 years. I’ll be talking about that big thrust in American history, talking about Coca Cola and Delta and how they fit into the larger culture, and the change in culture during this period.

And how really does the TV series factor into this analysis?

Stan Deaton: The popularity of Mad Men is to a large extent because those years basically created the American brand. It’s a brand that still exists, that we all buy into now: The idea of home ownership, car ownership, sending kids to college, consumerism run rampant. A nation of buyers and sellers.

You sense a real separation from 1945 on. The birth of youth culture revolutionized everything. Now so much is geared toward the audience 18-34 years old. That concept was nonexistent in the first half of the 20th century.

In the years after WWII suddenly there’s a mass appetite for cars and things. More housing becomes available.

And the rise of TV above all else. Politics becomes entertainment through the use of the 30 second spot, which was first seen in 1952.

With the rise of TV, people in the suburbs know people on TV better than their own next door neighbors. You see that today with our cellphones.

Speaking of cellphones, millennials have a different idea of the American dream and are much less materialistic. As long as they have an iPhone and an internet connection they’re pretty much good to go.

Stan Deaton: This generation doesn’t have as much money as their forebears. They’re living in their parents’ basement. This is part of the political discussion we’re having now.

But who sets that bar where living in your parents’ basement is failure? In previous generations you lived with your family....

Published September 29, 2015 at 4:00 a.m.

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