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Social Media's Soft Shoe (Sock) Send-off To Mad Men's Bert Cooper

 

The Mad Men finale of season seven, part one bid a fond farewell in grand style, to the last of Sterling Cooper's founding partners. Bearing in mind, producer, director, writer Matthew Weiner is no stranger to goodbyes, he also knows how to tug at our heartstrings when sending off memorable TV characters.

From his controversial fade-to-white ending of the Sopranos, to this past week's au revoir to Bert Cooper, at this master's deft hand, not only did the listening TV audience take notice, but so did social media. (Note: this is a Spoiler Alert for anyone who has not seen this episode)


As an homage to actor Robert Morse's illustrious career on the Broadway musical stage, dating back to his Tony award-winning role in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, it was a fitting send-off that literally and figuratively tied Mad Men's fictional 60s to the real-life 60s many of us fondly remember.

From an episode focused on soft landings from the landing of the Burger Chef account, to the Apollo 11 moon landing, to landing planes on the tarmac, Bert Cooper's soft shoe (sock) dance-off triggered a trending wave on the Twittersphere.

Mashable's Neha Prakash notes that "within minutes of the dance number, Bert Cooper and Robert Morse began trending on Twitter, proving that we love Bert, to the moon and back." She then proceeds to cite 21 Twitter accounts that were so moved they had to tweet their own heartfelt good-byes.

This touching episode harkens back to another nostalgic journey Don Draper took us all on when he made a brilliant presentation to the Kodak executives in season one, episode 13. Titled, "The Wheel," Don's convincing pitch turns the company's slide projector  into a revolving carousel that captures all of life's memories. This imagery was a precursor for the theme embodied in Bert's swan song, "The Best Things in Life are Free."

While at first blush -- appearing as an oxymoron for an advertising exec who sells advertising to think about that which comes without a price tag -- it's life's intangibles (not products) that's really at the heart of this show's central theme. So much so, this is the reason Bert was allowed to share those final thoughts to the one man in his firm who was finally ready to listen. Life is not made up of things. Life is made up of memories. And the more ways we can find to hold on to those precious moments, the more contentment we'll find when the final day comes for us to give up this mortal coil.

Perhaps if Don Draper was alive today, he'd be running a social media consultancy firm versus an advertising agency. Instead of the concrete jungle of Manhattan, he'd be found in the Silicon Valley presenting to Zuckerberg et al, where his carousel analogy could be modified slightly and have just as much meaning when the "Facebook Timeline" assumes the modern-day version of a slide projector.

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Ron Callari
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