Russell WilliamsXavier Ruffin having watched the critically acclaimed Matthew Weiner’s Mad Men, became a Mad Black Man. His beef was that the show didn’t adequately represent black people, or people of colour to use politically correct language. Weiner argued that in the 1960’s there were few if any black people who held senior positions in the advertising industry.
Well, the truth as Xavier Ruffin argues is that there were a handful of black Ad Men who held senior positions in the industry. In fact the Vice President at McCann-Erickson, which is cast as a rival to Sterling Cooper was Georg Olden who, yes was a black man. What Ruffin found too much to swallow was the dismissive way in which black people were essentially “ethnically cleansed” or erased from the history and reality.
This prompted him to create his own parody of the Mad Men show called Mad Black Men which can be seen online at dailymotion.com. Coming so soon after Black History Month, what I found interesting about this story, is that it’s proof positive – should proof still be required – that not only must we chronicle our history and achievements but must continue to tell these stories.
More over, it demonstrates that rather than bitch and whine we can do something constructive about such “oversights” or efforts to misrepresent the truth. It also further demonstrates the need for us to be more than merely content consumers and to continue the legacy of being creators and innovators.
Our youth cannot be what they can’t see, therefore we need to continue not only to celebrate key figures from history but to build on the foundations laid by them.
Mad Black Man, Didn’t Stay Mad, He Got Even!