Friday, February 23, 2024
Tv Series

Bertram Cooper, barefoot on the moon

Bertram Cooper, a piedi nudi sulla luna

“Roger, we took their money. We have to do what they want.”

– Bertram Cooper, Mad Men

Sometimes I think back to the walks on the construction site as a child, under that scorching sun that sizzled the fatigue on my forehead and made the green velvet of the cement in the cement mixers shine.
I think back to the perfect ecosystem created by those wrinkles on the hands, which collected lime residues like rocks in the sea.
I think back to dust gray hair, not weather gray hair. Not those autumn chemo ones.
I think back to the silhouette that, among the rubble, you could recognize from the authoritarian cries of those who know they are in charge of the battlefield, and I smile as I compare it with the clear figure, mute and spectator, who commanded life almost without wanting to. Without knowing it.
Sometimes I think back to my grandfather, and then it comes to mind Bert Cooper in Mad Men.

In a modest two-piece suit, slightly visibly oversized to always feel comfortable, he unlaces his shoes and makes contact with the earth at the highest point in the world. On the carpet of his office on the 37th floor of a skyscraper, simultaneously in the present and in the future, Bertram Cooper undresses but doesn’t break down. He decides to hint barefoot, impartially, the narcissistic and defiant dance of advertising marketing, a twist that is too convulsive for those who are already dancing a pas de deux with the most intimate part of themselves. Yet, he is part of it by realizing one of the many oxymorons they make Mad Men a cumbersome and cursed narrative, courageously nuanced.

Mad Men Bert Cooper
Mad Men – Bertram Cooper (636×423)

Bertram Cooper is old-time loyalty, the black and white paradigm that he paints the colors artfully in the wisdom of control, in the calmness of collecting and the contemplation of art (it is no coincidence that the Japanese art that wallpapers his office, which makes integrity and the abandonment of emotions in business the main principle ).
The man capable of anchoring his working self to atavistic principles, and freeing the human self to genuine contact with the surface he treads on. So Bert plays without tricks, seraphic but impermeable, a game in which the players pride themselves on knowing how to turn over the hole cards in thought.
On the chessboard of Mad Meneach piece is the allegory of a well-defined principle, an archetype, the representation of a product of that era.
All except the man you can’t make shoes for. All except Bertam Cooper.

In some ways, Bert represents in Mad Men the antithesis of Don and Roger, executives of Sterling Cooper but addicted to (and from) emotions.

They, who act genuine guilt and anguish in the silly presentations written ad hoc by the greedy hand of advertising logic, they are too distant from those who have sealed off every gray area of ​​their private life. From those who have separated the emotional aspects and attenuated their convictions, at least during that part of the day that is enough not to pervade the company’s choices with intimacy. Men and women show themselves as such in the offices of Mad Menma il Bert man is exclusiveboss and two-stroke exile, at Sterling Cooper.

He tells himself when he acts with wise malice The Atlas Revoltwritten by the Russian-born philosopher and novelist Ayn Rand. A passion, that for the writer, which suits the soul in black and white of Bert and his objectivist vision, tending towards capitalism not in an ideal way, but with that naive dedication of those who recognize success solely in logic.
Bert is not Machiavellian, he is not “actively catastrophic”. Bert is the man “textbook”.

It is thanks to this definition that we return to the opening quote, which refers to the moment in which Sterling Cooper is acquired, with Lowe, Powell and MacKendrick visiting the company.
Just as Roger shows off his most human side, sympathetically playing his disappointment at upsetting the company structure after the acquisition, Bert sits comfortably on the incontrovertible logic of work, while savoring a chocolate pudding, strictly without shoes, and in the oxymoron of an icy sentence he pronounces the most reassuring of truths.
The one that is symbolic of the fact that, when money is involved, the simplest thing you can expect is for you to do only what is written on paper, in black and white that does not accept the fluctuating shades of Mad Men. Again, the logical wisdom of black and white:

“Roger, we took their money. We have to do what they want.”

– Bertram Cooper, Mad Men

Bertram Cooper is the message that silently manifests itself under every success, and that becomes symbol of a non-negotiable emotional and personal detachment from workwhose perfect example is precisely that depersonalized approach adopted by Bert towards employees, and whose result in response generates the harmony that he himself administers.
While everyone is blowing in the hurricane of the new era, victims of their own self-destructive tendencies and uncomfortable passengers of their emotions, Bert prefers to walk (naked), dressing his shoulders in an almost envious quality of happinesswho is so wise that she can’t unbutton even for a second, but so pure that she takes off her shoes.

Mad Men
Mad Men – Bert Cooper (635×357)

Yet, Bert’s apathy is not “only” this, because in that stoic soul is hidden the classic, uncomfortable and mentally dizzying suffering of someone who seems to have seen the worst things of his time.

The emotional inadequacy of a totem rooted to the groundineradicable, while everything around him changes tumultuously. The typical, rough nobility of a grandfather.
This more nostalgic and vaguely vulnerable trait of the character comes out in one of the most sophisticated and moving jokes of the entire series, following the death of Don’s new secretary, Ida Blankenship. Bert’s suffering will come out, without losing his usual composure, thanks to the sense of identification he will feel towards those who, like him, felt they were living in the future with the instructions of the past. With teachings in black and white.
Who, like him, was walking barefoot on the moon.

“She was born in 1899 in a barn. She died on the 37th floor of a skyscraper. She was an astronaut.”

– Bertram Cooper, Mad Men

With that metaphor stamped into his pride, Bert Cooper seems to be dragging himself through life as if to want to resist until the moment when he knows he can leave the world. As if there was a morally “right” moment to die, not to leave a work unfinished.
Because wisdom is like time: irreversible. So Bert rests on the sofa, takes off his shoes and feels the carpet under his feet, in contact with that synthetic nature like the work that has filled his life.
With the remote control button ignites his spaceship and, with the voice of the news marking the world’s story in his ears, he closes his eyes and fly to the moon. Forever.

Sometimes I think back to the modest successes that colored my life as I built the draft with teachings in black and white. Those of once upon a time.
Sometimes I think back what was the path that led me to make kindness my main means of communication. To make my words resemble the caresses of your worn hands as much as possible. Those of once upon a time.
Sometimes I think back of the good things I built and I think of the cities you built with those hands.
Sometimes I think about where you are, and I know for sure that you have rebuilt heaven in black and white. As they once imagined.

And that’s how I know I haven’t done enough yet.
That I haven’t been to the moon yet, like Bertram Cooper.

At Bellopede Vincenzo,
my totem. My guiding voice.