I’m not a huge fan of January Jones. I still can’t decide if she’s a good actress or if she is just playing herself on Mad Men, and I don’t think we’d be friends if we knew each other. But that doesn’t mean I am not going to call the fuck out of someone when I see them treating her in a sexist manner.
In today’s issue of The New York Times, there’s a profile of Jones that I can only describe as “gendered.” Basically, it’s about what a bitch she is for not working overtime to change the minds of all the people who don’t like her, for refusing to smile, and for daring to keep her personal life, well, personal. Conventionally beautiful women, it seems, have to be outgoing and goofy like Jennifer Lawrence (but not tryhardy like Anne Hathaway!) for the media to treat them like human beings. They are not allowed to be shy and introverted, or any other way but the Jennifer Lawrence way, really. And I think that sucks.
To illustrate this, I am going to do a little thought experiment where I pretend this profile was written about a man instead of a woman. Are you ready? Okay.
Jon Hamm, His Own Myth Of Masculinity
It isn’t easy to coax a smile out of Jon Hamm. Perched on a velveteen banquette at the NoMad hotel in the Flatiron district recently, Mr. Hamm didn’t engage in the dithery banter that in Hollywood passes for charm.
What he offered instead was a credible impersonation of Don Draper, the sweet and sullen character he plays in “Mad Men,” the role that has turned him into an emblem of sexiness as salty as his name.
He was dressed down in a T-shirt, hoodie and fashionably shredded MiH jeans. But easygoing as he appeared, you could be forgiven for confusing Mr. Hamm with his starchy alter ego, the immaculate Rockwell man married early in the series to the ice queen Betty Draper, then to Megan Calvet, the rising actress who rescues him from a life of lies.
[Does it seem ridiculous yet? I am just getting started!]
Certainly, viewers seem perplexed. They conflate the actor with his role, argues Natasha Vargas-Cooper, a pop-culture historian and the author of “Mad Men Unbuttoned: A Romp Through 1960s America” — maybe because of the intimacy of TV. “He is in our living rooms,” Ms. Vargas-Cooper said in a telephone interview, “and that just brings up a lot of unsettling feelings.”
Indeed, viewers tend to ascribe to Mr. Hamm the chilly detachment, untreated alcoholism and existential angst that haunt and define Don Draper. And Mr. Hamm seems in no hurry to set them straight.
At 35, he is not much inclined to draw back curtains on a private life that seems by turns hermetic and crazily exposed. In recent months he made waves, not for his roles (he plays Sergio, a scantily clad saxophone player on “Saturday Night Live”) but for a string of romances that have scandalized his critics, providing steady fodder for tabloids and blogs.