Where are the good guys?

I’m not sure where it started, but I remember trying to get into the Sopranos midway through it’s run. I tuned in and was expecting to be immediately hooked. But coming in mid-way made it hard to connect emotionally with the characters and story. And because I had no affection for the show I noticed something telling. Everybody was a bad guy. I disliked all the characters. There was not one redeeming character in the show. So I didn’t watch.

However, fast forward to Mad Men. Advertising fun in the sixties and I’m hooked. “How cool is this!”, I raved. Then came Netflix and Breaking Bad. What a show. The drama. The acting. Amazing.

Then it hit me. There are no good guys in these shows. At least none you root for. The bad guys are the heroes. They are the ones you care about.

The entertainment media often tells us that their art is a reflection of the culture, so I started thinking. Is the American culture now completely evil? The answer is no. In advertising circles we often joke about how we are just slightly above lawyers in the honesty pecking order. Not well respected. Prone to embellish and manipulate. Heck, we’re the ones that do the advertising for lawyers!

So I’m asking, can an ethically based ad agency survive in this era where everybody seemingly wears black hats? I’m betting on yes. While there’s plenty of unethical behavior in the marketplace, we’ve found some real honest folks to do business with. In this age of interconnectivity I think being dishonest is truly harder to get away with than ever before. The market demands transparency and actual community involvement from businesses. This translates into more ethical behavior. Plus we get to promote genuine positive human behavior and business practices.

So take that, Hollywood! Looks like there’s gonna be a happy ending after all. Let’s hear it for the good guys.