Wednesday, 4 April 2012

The American Archetype

       Don Draper is a successful ad man, his wife Betty is a beautiful home-maker and Sally and Bobby are their two adorable children. Don works in New York and his family live in the suburbs. They live the American dream, a charmed life, and nothing stains their family portrait. They are the American archetype...or alternatively as one series of Mad Men will inform you, both they and their lives are far from the perfect image they seem. Across the veneer of American perfection lie the cracks of guilt, dishonesty and betrayal. Behind the façade of utopia lies the reality of dystopia.

        Throughout history the American archetype has been admired, portrayed and torn to shreds by culture. From films, such as The Stepford Wives, to music videos, such as Britney's If You Seek Amy - we look to the American archetype as a symbol of perfection, a beacon of hope...a suggestion as to what the human race could be but sadly is not. And although the housewife image of yesteryear has perhaps developed into one of a working woman/homosexual man today, the nuclear family and its 'roles' still exist within our preconceived perceptions of perfection today. We still idolise the American archetype.
       Yet, what Mad Men, along with Desperate Housewives and the likes of American Beauty demonstrate, is that, behind the image of paradise, the American archetype does not exist - it is an illusion. Although people do live in nuclear families their situations are never quite perfect. We all have bad days and we all have problems. And yet, nonetheless, we are attracted to the perfect American portrait. Despite it's intangibility, we as children and adults alike, imagine being parts of perfect nuclear families. We seek the unattainable. One need only look at SS's 2012 collections to see that this image has affected fashion too. 

         From Mad Men 60s cuts and styles in recent men's fashion to the Americana trend in women's fashion  this season, designers have obsessed over the American image of perfection. They have used it as a muse for hundreds of their designs. Nina Ricci has modernised its with her exposed midriffs and leather bikers, Proenza Schouler have devoured it with their Diner inspired so-bad-it's-good-taste delights and Prada has epitomised it with her car motifs and cat's-eye sunglasses. Not to mention her roadster heels which, much like her chunky brogues from last year, will no doubt be coveted by all this SS.
          In fact, in all four fashion capitals, designers have utilised the American archetype to transform the perfect image into the the perfect collection. They have created clothes which effortlessly combine the nostalgia of the American archetype's origins with the modernity of  today's fashion and proved that it still holds relevance in society today. They have created enticed their customers with the image of perfection....and perfection is something that we all long for in our lives in some form or another so, that,which we associate it with, entrances us. 

       Marina & The Diamond's sophomore album will be released on April the 30th this year and its focus, much like fashion's now, is American archetypes, be they housewives and beauty queens or homewreckers and idle teens. Her album is set to deconstruct the preconceived American image of perfection and ironically create pop perfection in the process...and, as we can tell from the album's lead single, Primadonna, above, Marina is succeeding in her aims. The single deserves to be blasted from radios worldwide.
         Marina demonstrates the reality that the American archetype is far from that which it seems to be in a time in which the American archetype is culture's muse, and, just like fashion, she illustrates the fact that, whilst we can't necessarily obtain perfection in our lives, we can obtain it in our image. We can uphold the image of perfection...and with all the imperfections that effect us today, why not look perfect. If we can't be the American archetype, there's nothing wrong with looking like it.


  1. Replies
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