The votes are in! Everybody’s favorite womanizing, drunk-driving, poetry-reading, stolen-identity-havin’, cigarette-and-marijuana-smokin’, feminist family man has been declared the “The Most Influential Man of 2009”. That man? Don Draper, the fictional lead of AMC’s Mad Men. That’s right – they didn’t choose Jon Hamm, the incredible actor who portrays Don Draper. No, they picked a character from the 1960s! The poll was conducted by AskMen.com, and they claim Draper was chosen because he “represents something about male identity that is enduringly captivating but has nonetheless vanished…a brilliant career man and a temptation-swayed philanderer who sincerely wants to be a family man.” Hm… I’m not sure if I completely agree with that, but sure. Sounds good enough:
Don Draper may be a fictional character on AMC’s Mad Men, but he’s just as real as any other public personality you can think of. Celebrities are brands, with carefully constructed images, and most of us are just as likely to have a beer with Don Draper as with anybody else on this list.
What matters is that Draper’s hardass 1960s persona represents something about male identity that is enduringly captivating but has nonetheless vanished. The man that Don Draper is — value-driven and thoroughly masculine — is the product of a bygone era; without him, there would be no contemporary figure to represent it. Yet, as removed as his persona may be, it is also contemporary and familiar. He’s a postwar archetype, both a brilliant career man and a temptation-swayed philanderer who sincerely wants to be a family man. Like most men, us and our fathers both, Draper is permanently conflicted over how to reconcile his morals and his desires.
Draper illustrates old-school values even though he often fails to meet them himself. His human flaws are what make him so relevant to men today. He is by turns a chain-smoking, drinking-in-the-office emblem of a bygone age, and an unusually real, earnest human being who illustrates the struggles modern men know all too well.
[From Ask Men]
Personally, I love Don Draper (and the actor Jon Hamm) because he is very, very sexy. Not in that “oh, what a cute guy” sort of way, but in that “oh my God, that’s a MAN” sort of way. What’s surprising about the character is that he’s really not that talkative – so when he does speak, everybody listens. That alone is a great quality in a character or a real person, in my opinion. I also adore his sensitivity – he loves to read, he loves movies, he loves art – he has the soul of an artist. And even though he’s living the stolen life of a fellow soldier, he’s a Korean War veteran who has seen death, and it changed him profoundly.
I also love Don because he really is a feminist, before being a “feminist” was really something anyone knew they were. It would be easy to dismiss Don as just another womanizer – but he loves strong, tough, independent women who don’t need him. Those women are his Achilles heel. He prefers talking to women, and he’s most at ease and more “real” with women, even if it is just some random stewardess. Plus, there’s the added feminist-in-the-workplace bonus: Don Draper doesn’t treat the women he works with like crap. He always respects his secretaries, and he’s the kind of man who sets an example for other men who don’t know how to treat women. Draper even promotes raw talent, even if it comes in a skirt, like his promotion of Peggy, his secretary-turned-corporate-manager.
Here’s how Ask Men’s top ten came out, in descending order: Don Draper, Usain Bolt, President Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg (the Facebook guy), Simon Cowell, Michael Jackson, Steve Jobs, Roger Federer, Peyton Manning, and Dana White (he’s president of Ultimate Fighting Championship). Meh to the top ten.
Thanks to AMC for these photos