“MAD MEN”: Acts of Violence

“MAD MEN”: Acts of Violence

The Season Three episode of “MAD MEN” called (3.11) “The Gypsy and the Hobo” featured a scene in which former Sterling Cooper office manager Joan Holloway had bashed a vase against the head of her husband, Greg Harris. He had been whining over failing to acquire a new job as a psychiatrist during an interview. Frustrated and angered by his lack of professional success and his bouts of whining, Joan took a vase and bashed it over his head. Then she marched into their bedroom and closed the door. 

Ever since (3.11) “The Gypsy and the Hobo” had aired, many fans have been expressing glee over Joan’s violent acts. And whenever someone protested against Joan’s actions, many rushed to the redhead’s defense. The more excuses I read, the more I find interesting that so many of these fans are drumming up excuses for what was obviously an act of violence perpetrated by Joan against her husband.

While thinking about it, I realized that Joan really had no excuse to attack her husband, anymore than Greg had for his attack upon her, last season’s episode, (2.12) “The Mountain King”. Both had been acts of violence perpetrated by the couple’s emotions. Greg had felt threatened by Joan’s sexual history and potential lack of control and raped her. Joan felt frustrated and angered by Greg’s inability to become a professional success and his selfish whining and bashed him over the head with a vase. Both were wrong.

Yet, because Joan is a)very popular with fans, b) a woman, and c) had been attacked first; many fans have been condoning her actions, while continuing to condemn Greg’s. I get the sense that many fans are taking an “eye for an eye” attitude toward Joan’s attack, as retaliation for what Greg had done to her.

Frankly, I think Joan should have broken her engagement with Greg after he had raped her in “The Mountain King”. She really had no excuse for failing to do this. She was not married to Greg. Another nine months or so would pass before she finally left Sterling Cooper. She was a 31 year-old woman at the time. Granted, society in general may have deemed her an “old maid”, but she certainly had no problems with living with that stigma before 1962. Greg had not been the first man to propose marriage to her. And even at 31 years (last season), she was still young and beautiful enough to attract another man. Look at Duck Phillips’ ex-wife. She managed to find another man and she must have been in her 40s at the time of their divorce.

I hate to say this, but Joan blew her chance at a better life or a better husband, when she went ahead and married Greg following the rape. Joan is supposed to be this smart and savy woman. And yet, she could not see that he might not be the right man for her even after he had raped her? Had she been so determined to acquire a successful husband that she failed to realize there was something wrong with Greg?

Joan really had no obligation to marry him, after what he had done to her. And hitting him over the head with a vase out of anger and frustration did not change anything in the end.