So, I pop up to the Irving Circle K the other day to gas up the ol' Ninjamobile and abuse my bank account (simultaneously, as it turns out). Just as I'm pulling up to the front of the store I see this:
Now, I know that exclusion, prejudice and discrimination still exists in our wonderful society, but I'd kinda hoped that by now we'd all come to a general consensus that using insulting terms to describe a person's identity is just not cool. After all, the elderly have about as much choice about being elderly as a Korean man has being labeled as a visible minority or a wheel-chair bound person being categorized as "physically challenged".
Honestly, can you imagine if Circle K had decided to do a campaign called "Asianaid"? Or "Cripleaid"? Jesus, what were they thinking? What the f#@% is the point of this stupid ad campaign, anyway, except to insult people? Does it mean that if you dare drink this goop you'll age yourself prematurely? 'Cuz if you consider just how nasty this manufactured, hyper-sugary, nuclear day-glo slop is, that's probably the case.
So I see this poster and think to myself: "Jesus, that's pretty f#@$%^& insulting. If I was a senior, I'd be hella-pissed!"
So I go in and pay for my crap and the pimply-voiced teen with the patchwork facial hair behind the counter squeaks:
"Thanks! Have a nice day, SIR!"
Instantly my brain was seized by a red rage. I began shaking like Hulk Hogan in the denouement of a Pier Six brawl with Rowdy Roddy Piper. I instantly tore off the yellow wifebeater I just so happened to be wearing, inadvertently crushing the "Twix" bar in my left hand during my fit of berserk fury.
"Sir!? SIR!?! I'm no 'Sir'!" I raged. "My Dad's a 'sir', you gangly, mangy-looking, pencil-necked, mutant Adam-appled genetic casualty!"
I immediately whipped him into the ice cream cooler, followed up with a boot to the mush and then polished him off with my patented leg-drop. After Earl Hebner conveniently materialized from out of nowhere to provide a timely three-count, I posed down for the benefit of my adoring fellow patrons, snatched up my Championship Belt and then stalked back to my dressing room...er, car... all the while indiscriminately pointing at people.
Actually none of that really happened. In reality I think I just said something edgy like "Thanks, sonny" and then flipped him a dime and told him to spend it on penny whistles and moon-pies.
It's a sad time when you realize that you're not as young as you used to be. I'm going to be suffering through another birthday soon and frankly, I couldn't give two shits about it. From age one to age eighteen birthdays still hold some novelty but at my age it's just another reminder of how far away you still are from where you want to be in life. Not to mention the fact that you seem to wake up every morning like the Tin Man in dire need of an oil can.
Which is why I think I'm so hyper-sensitive to this whole "Geezerade" thing. In twenty or thirty years from now it could just as easily be my kisser up on that sign.
It's a tough thing to come to grips with aging, especially when you didn't think you'd live long enough to see thirty let alone forty! As a kid, I thought forty was ancient. Cripes, you might as well be Kharis, the Immortal Mummy at that age!
And why not? As I've gotten older I've started to become acutely aware of how shabbily older folks are treated by the media and pop culture. In fact I think it's the last bastion of acceptable discrimination.
Here are just a few examples:
- I'm listening to the CBC broadcast of the Boston Bruins/Vancouver Canucks Stanley Cup finals and the moron doing color commentary is stunned by a burst of speed by 43-year-old Mark Recci because "he's, like...like a hundred years old." Instantly I turned to my infinitely better half and said: "Um, did I just hear what I thought I heard?" Man, can you be more insulting?
- In 2004, Eighties-era punk band The Alarm released a comeback album. Aware that their more recent efforts were never getting any airplay on “younger and mainstream” radio stations they recruited a young local band named The Poppyfields to be their stand-ins for the video for "45 RPM". The single was their first to chart in years and, interestingly enough, got tons of heavy airplay on radio and T.V.
- According to American Idol you can't possess a whit of talent beyond age thirty. It's like the entertainment equivalent of Logan's Run...
- In the 80's people like John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, David Bowie, Yes, Dire Straits, Tina Turner, Robert Plant, and Robert Palmer all had chart-topping hits. Hell, even in the Nineties, Roy Orbison, Tom Jones and Johnny Cash all experienced major career revivals. In an era where the next pop icon is likely to be a singing/dancing fetus, I maintain that such acknowledgment of our collective musical legacies would never happen now.
- The BBC, in all of it's infinite wisdom, decided to put Miriam O'Reilly out to pasture, a twenty-five year employee and presenter for the television program Countryfile. A tribunal soon ruled that the BBC's claim that they were restructuring the show was just a weak excuse to bring in hosts twenty years her junior.
- In the motion picture industry, women in particular suffer the worst sort of indignities. Actress Hope Davis was once asked to portray Johnny Depp's mom in a film, despite the fact that she's actually a year younger then he is! Glen Close's Gertrude would have been about ten years old when she gave birth to Mel Gibson's Hamlet. Then, after serving as Tom Hank's love interest in the film Punchline, Sally Field found herself playing Mama Gump only six short years later!
- Honestly I love the character of Grampa Simpson and often laugh in spite of myself, but when you get down to brass tacks, he's a pretty mean-spirited stereotype:
Now, let me also mention a coupla corollaries to this rant of mine. First off, I don't believe people automatically deserve respect just because they have crow's feet. I still believe that people need to earn respect, regardless of seniority.
I'm also still pissy about the Baby Boomers clinging to their jobs and avoiding retirement like it's a greased slide into a crematorium. How vapid and one-dimensional are you as a person if you think your identity and self-worth is completely tied up in working some generic, crappy McJob that has no creative input but just serves to make some rich asshole who doesn't give a f#@$% about you that much richer?
Get a grip, people! If it makes financial sense, retire, dammit! Make room for the younger generation who desperately need to pay off crushing student loans. Go enjoy life! Volunteer your time! Read a book! Buy an X-box!
In a related point, also think that there's plenty of examples of ageism that go the other way and discriminates against younger people. Have you looked at those automobile insurance rates lately?
I just think it's brutal how we almost seem to go out of out way to denigrate the elderly in North America. In certain Native and African cultures, age is synonymous with wisdom and experience. In Japan the term for an elderly person is "Oji-San". In the Western world we'd likely interpret this to mean "Old Person", but it's most literal translation is actually "Venerable One".
I'd invite you, Kind Reader, to remain vigilant about this. Post a comment below if you come across any specific examples of blatant ageism whether it be a line in a movie, a television commercial, or a CD review.
I'm just asking you to be aware of it. After all, I'm gonna be old myself one of these days.
But, more importantly, you will be too.
EPIC BY ASSOCIATION: http://www.facebook.com/pages/End-geezerade-Campaign-Now/223839950975658
FAIL As bad as it is for men, women seem to get it ten times worse: http://www.realbodystory.com/view.php?cat=11
ANIMATED FAIL I sincerely hope Hogan got a truckload of filthy lucre to attach his name to this pile of poo: