UPDATE: @CreepyGlen sent me this link further explaining that it was actually Matthew Weiner who walked in on a woman named Peggy and asked her for a lock of hair. Even @CreepyGlen, Marten, told his dad he was weird.)
UPDATE: An I apologize for the formatting issues. WordPress has been doing this a lot lately and I’m not sure why.
I’m not sure if you saw The New York Times transcript of the recent interview with AMC’s Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner and the discussion about his casting his son, Marten, as Glen Bishop, (@CreepyGlen and @Glen_Bishop on Twitter) but Weiner’s response I find more and more puzzling the more I think about it. Dave Itzkoff asked him about the amount of time we saw of his son, who got a lot of air time in Season IV, almost exclusively in dealing with Sally Draper (Kiernan Shipka), and on two occasions, Betty Draper (January Jones).
Q.We even got to see more of Glen Bishop this season. What does it say that you cast your son Marten as this creepy, off-kilter character?
A. I know people use the word creepy, I don’t understand it. I don’t find him to be off-kilter. I’m very proud of their conversations, because anyone who has seriously eavesdropped on children, that is the way they talk to each other. Glen’s always going to be defined by the fact that he asked [Betty] for a lock of hair and he walked in on her in the bathroom, and I know that. But we have a delusion, I will say, in this country, that children are not people. People forget the thoughts they had when they were 6 and 7 years old, and how much of them was in there already. As a dad, the anxiety I have is that he’s going to get some public retribution for being a peculiar person, and he’s not like that at all. He’s got very big eyes and very thick black hair and that may be part of why people think he’s so intense. But he’s a doll and he loves doing it. My worst fear is that he’ll read some of the [things] that people write about him on the Internet, which he never will. That’s all I care about.
Why is Glen (Marten) considered Creepy?
But let’s stop a minute and think about who really has helped create the perception that Glen, the character is creepy.
The answer: His father.
This youthful character has done some fairly odd things. Weiner says they’re more normal than not, but sleeping over in the neighbor’s doll house, asking for Betty’s lock of hair, (even creepier, her giving him one), walking in on her in the potty, this season, he broke in and vandalized the Draper/Francis home, and then there is just the way he acts.
Contrast that with the lines Sally has in her interactions with him. She’s more talkative. Lighter. Glen is almost always probing, more knowledgeable. A few times this season I felt like he was going to slip Sally the tongue or something else. Would you rather be called Creepy by the world or a Doll in the NY Times by your dad?
If he’s the “doll” his dad says he is, (I think if I were Marten I’d rather see people calling my character Creepy than my dad calling me a doll in the NYT), then maybe in Season V, Weiner gives his kid some lines and opportunities to show he’s not so creepy after all.
He’s clearly a very perceptive character and knows much for a boy his age back in the early to mid-196os. Of course, my suspicion is that since the Francis family has moved so far a way, it’s going to be hard to write Glen back into the Sally interaction script unless he begins taking after Sally and boarding trains and buses.
And it’s clear that while Sally might send Glen postcards because she “knows his address,” no mail Glen sends to Sally ever is going to make it into her hands. It’ll either be thrown away on the spot, stamped return to sender, or put into a special drawer for Betty to savor out of her jealousy of Sally and Glen.
But back to real life for a second.
Weiner says: “My worst fear is that he’ll read some of the [things] that people write about him on the Internet, which he never will. That’s all I care about.”
The only way that happens is if Marten stays back in the 1960s before Al Gore invented the Internet. My own kids read this blog, which at times I wish they didn’t because of the topics I deal with, but to say that your kid is never going to see people calling his character “Creepy” on the Internet is just bizarre. If there are jokes on the Mad Men set that a countdown begins for a female character when she becomes tied to Draper, is it not logical to think that Sally, Bobbie, or someone isn’t going to say something to Marten about people calling him Creepy? After all, if, as Weiner says, you’ve ever “seriously eavesdropped on children,” (mildly of creepy) you’d know, this is just the sort of thing they’d talk about.
In summary, Matt Weiner, if you want your kid to be able to play much of anything in the future besides “Creepy” Glen Bishop, you probably need to change the way he’s thought of in Mad Men or more than likely, professionally that’s all it’s ever going to be. And he probably is a very nice kid. But stereotypes in Hollywood are hard to break out of, particularly for children actors.
Matt, as his dad, shouldn’t you do something to fix that?