Matt Weiner Interview, Part 5


Matt:  Rachel is a very revolutionary concept.  I have gone out there and said this woman is JEWISH.  It’s open that she’s Jewish!  And I use Judaism and assimilation as an explanation of existential crisis that similar to what Don has.  That to be white and want to fit in means that you are not part of the culture on some level.  For a Jewish person.  And I was like, this is a big part of the show! 

There are two things that some of the critics are not getting but one thing that’s really important for me.  Some people have not understood the fact that this is NOT The Man in The Grey Flannel Suit.  This is not Patterns.  I love those things.  Those are opera that people at that time watched.  I’m writing about the audience FOR those things.  I’m writing about the husband and wife that are living in a world and they SEE The Apartment   What is it like to SEE the man in the grey flannel suit.  And to be a veteran.  What is it like to SEE the Best of Everything - where this woman thinks she’s going to get married and Robert Evans is taking her to get an abortion.  There’s a movie called Blue Velvet.  I think it’s directed by Weiss.  Which is about a 15 year old girl who needs an abortion.  Tawdry, tawdry, extremely melodramatic stories.  About people making bad choices and about crime not paying, but about the fact of having their cake and eating it too. 

Which is – you know, the message: you cannot get enough illicit sex.  Like Summer Place.

I’m doing that. I’m doing: what was it like to watch that!  What was it like for us to watch Fatal Attraction?   I’m doing: why would you go have sex w/ Glenn Close when you had what’s her name at home?   Not that Glenn Close isn’t attractive but men saw that.  What was the compulsion?  What was the self-destruction.  As John Slattery [as Sterling] says [his character] – fidelity has do w/ your options.  Who knows?  Who knows what it is.  Who knows what was wrong in that man’s life that he did that.

Mary:  My own experience of the men at that time, they were a lot more slotted in that time….

Matt:  The whole idea of being in a rut.  Which was the big phrase in all those ‘70’s movies.  I’m talking about the middle class movies. In the 80’s the movies were all about “I cannot commit.”  Why can’t I commit

Mary:  I’m thinking back to the 50’s and early sixties when I was very young.  Men did certain things.  You got married.  You certainly couldn’t be gay.  I do think men have a lot more personal choices at this point.  So I can see that the craving can come from never really having an opportunity to choose in their lives.

Matthew:  We have tons of personal choices now but we have no desire.  We are unsatisfied by all.

Mary:  So we have too much choice?

Matt:  I think that all the choices, none of them seem to have any value…

Mary:  Well, that is very existential!

Matt:  I know, I know. It’s terrible.  All I can tell you is that if you find love, it does not cancel out your mortaility.  But if the purpose of your life is to produce children.  People are at that point right now.  Women are coming out of college, taking their husband’s names and getting pregnant immediately because my generation had so much trouble having babies.  And that’s their purpose in life.  And all of this, all of the ambition to be something…I dunno.  I think it’s an existential thing.  I really do.  I think the culture gets to a point where it has everything and death is looming in the background and….

Mary:  Has nothing at the same time.

Matt:  Yes, has nothing.  I look at the fact that Warren Buffet and Bill Gates gave all this money to Africa work last year.  They redistributed the world’s wealth.  And no one has really said how astoundingly amazing this is.  That all this money got sucked up in North America and got spit out in Africa.  So why do the do that?  Because they have a sense of existence.  And I look at people like Don or Gatsby and think – you can only make so much stuff before you need love. 

But the person who is unattached, who is completely self-created they have an insight into the culture.  And our society is constantly fighting w/ this idea what is it to be a man?  Is a man someone who feels nothing for anyone and can and take a bullet in the chest and give his life up?  Or is a man someone who builds a house and puts his children in it and put his wife in it.

Mary:  What is that for you?  Have you come to terms w/ your own definition?
(click here for part 6)