Ageism Is Sooooo Subtle

August 31st, 2013

What: L.A. Times

When: Today

The Story: Fashion Trends

Topshop and H&M are offering customers free in-store consultations with “stylists” to 1) lure women to brick & mortar stores and 2) help them buy more.

Who uses these stylists?

At Topshop, ages range “from 15 year old girls to 50-year old mothers.” At Johnny Was, customers “include mothers, businesswomen and even a client in her 60s.”

Did you catch that subtle, ageist putdown? “…even a client in her 60s.”

I read this to mean: “We dress Mothers, who are functioning members of society with a role and a title, and we dress Businesswomen, who are also functioning members of society, with roles and titles, and we dress one freak, a women in her 60s.”

It’s not clear if Businesswomen can also be Mothers, but no matter, my point is that “Mother” and “Businesswoman” are legitimate, descriptive categories that fit in “the world as we know it” but that “… a woman in her 60s” is adrift in her own dreary category, without a role, or function or title.

Ageism is subtle, but that’s what sharp editors are for.

The Media Watch Dog is whimpering.

How Old is Too Old?

January 28th, 2013

Every week, Time magazine’s last page is their “10 Questions” feature–Editor-at-Large Belinda Luscombe probes celebrities and people in the news.

In the Jan. 28th issue she interviews Sixto Rodriguez, the 70-year-old Detroit man whose attempt at rock stardom fizzled in the 70s, so he settled down to an alternative career in demolition.  Then, one day in 1998, a visitor arrived, informing Sixto that in South Africa he’s a rock icon, up there w/ Dylan and the Beatles.  Sixto’s life took a turn from daily demolition in Detroit to touring South Africa, collecting past royalties and enjoying musical success.

That’s why Belinda interviewed him.

Her last question to Sixto was: “Does he still do demolition?” He answered “yes, just yesterday, to his own house, which he’s renovating.”  Ms Lacombe, aghast, blurted out an uncustomary question #11, “You’re doing your own demolition?  At 70?”

What she really meant was: “70 is too old to do demo work!”  Also  implying that 70 is too old to do anything functional.

Ms. Luscombe, meet Sir Paul (McCartney)—he’s 70, used to be in a big rock band, but ½ the guys are dead, and another’s semi-retired, so he’s gone solo and, he just won’t quit.  The amazing thing is “he still does his own singing.”

Imagine the stamina to go on tour, 3-hour shows, night after night, all that traveling, up-all-night-sleep-all-day kind of life.   Certainly that’s as strenuous as doing demolition, which is probably more tying wires together then actually, personally, destroying things.

The point, dear Belinda, it that 70 is NOT too old to do demo, or tour, or be a U.S. senator (Dianne Feinstein, 79.)  Or win a Nobel Prize (too many to count who got awarded at 70+).

Just as bad, and maybe this subtle bit of ageism could have been editied out, is that she reinforced to millions of readers a personal belief that is not evidenced based…just because she thinks that 70 is too old for a man to do demo—or anything else functional–does not make it true.

The media watchdog is growling.

 

 


Let’s Hear it for Belo!

November 26th, 2012

TX owned Belo newspapers syndicates 2-pages of fluff called “Senior LifeStyles.”  Lately, they’ve substituted the word “Boomers” in the headlines, rather than the dreaded “Senior”—a step in the right direction.

 

Happy Birthday, Susan Sarandon

October 4th, 2012

 

Happy birthday, Susan Sarandon, 66 today, and she looks great enough for The Huffington Post to feature the  “Sarandon Style Evolutions” with pics from 1975 (when she was 29) to today.

 

Compare that to People mags Sept. 24th “Double Special Issue” which featured “Chic at Every Age”–four pages with a woman of every age, starting with 20 (Selena Gomez) thru the 30’s (Jessica Biel) to 45 ((Nicole Kidman) all the way up to 58, (Christie Brinkley) and 59 (Kathie Lee Gifford,) and then, and then… it stops.

 

To People, 60 is so old that you can’t even be chic, yet Huff-Po thinks 66 is chic enough to give you star billing in the “Style” section, documenting your entire adult fashion life in 45 photos.

 

If an  editor is really young, 66 is ancient.  If the editor is 45, 66 is in the middle, and if the editor is 66 (the age of the oldest baby boomer) 66 is “normal.”

So there.

Dear Arianna: Consider Older Reporters and Better Editors

September 28th, 2012

The Media WatchDog is growling!

 

Re: Actor Johnny Lewis’s death (Sons of Anarchy) and the simultaneous murder of his 70 year old female landlord, as reported in today’s Huffington Post:

  “Although the elderly woman’s death has been described as a homicide…”

Elderly?  Was she elderly because she was 70, or because she was, according to the Thesaurus…aged, old, advanced in years, aging, long in the tooth, past  one’s prime; gray-haired, grizzled, hoary; in one’s dotage,  decrepit, doddering, over the hill, no spring chicken.

What if the deceased 70-year-old woman was a “youthful” 70, like my cousin Judy, who works hard, wears cowboy boots, and has  pink streaks in her hair? The word elderly does not apply.

Jane Fonda is hardly “elderly,” and neither is Susan Sarandon and Goldie Hawn, who are nearing “elderly,” as is Diane Keaton, the face of  L’Oreal.

If the reporter is 25 years old, 70 might seems elderly, but if the reporter is 66—the age of the oldest baby boomer, and we’ll assume there are many working reporters, in radio/TV and print, that are 66–he’d probably not think to describe her age at all.

Just tacking  on “elderly” (unless substantiated) to a 70 year old person–alive or dead—is careless editing that reinforces outdated stereotypes of what “elderly” is and does.

Age is a moving target–we are all “older” than we were, and “younger” than we are going to be, and we are all “ageing” all the time.

Sloppy reporting is bad, but sloppy editing is inexcusable.

 

 

Let’s be clear(er) about retirement

February 15th, 2011

Michael Kinsley, writing today’s Op-Ed piece in the L. A. Times. His topic: housing prices. His point: younger people, just starting out, and middle agers wanting to upgrade to bigger and/or better want housing prices to go down so they can buy one, but if you are older, you have equity, and want prices to go up, so you can cash out.

Making his case, he sez, “empty nesters, who are approaching or already enjoying retirement..”

Excuse me, but is it a given that retirement is “enjoyable?” What about someone 58 or 62 who was forced to take “early retirement?” What about people who are financially strapped or lonely, or bored?

Retirement is not universally enjoyable. That is sloppy journalism. The Media Watchdog is gritting her teeth.

Baby Boomer Shout-out

July 29th, 2010
Media Watchdog, barking.
Media Watchdog, barking.

The media watchdog hates sloppy news reporting, cheesy editing, and young punks who think 60 is old.

As reported on CBSnews.com by Gary Hamilton, via Huff-Po.

This story is about a Brazilian DJ school for grandparents.

Describing one student as SIXTY-TWO YEARS OLD, Hamilton practically squeals with awe. Apparently, it’s just so—so—phenomenal that a man THAT old could? Or would? DJ.

Hamilton’s unconscious ageism is annoying, but it’s the sloppy journalism that sends me ‘round the bend. He describes the students as “elderly’, a dicey term. It really depends on the age of the writer, the tone the editor wants to set, and begs the question: how old is old? What if elderly starts at 65, or 70? What if someone 64 was writing the article, would 62 be so awesomely elderly?

Perhaps the editor could have assigned an age appropriate reporter to cover grandparent DJ school in Brazil—certainly there are thousands of journalists in their 60s who could be grandparents, and they would have a different take on it, don’t you think?

Bottom line: would you rather get your news from a rookie, or from a more seasoned human being who accepts as normal that people SIXTY TWO YEARS OLD have jobs, shop, go to movies, and try new things, such as DJ school for grandparents?

Here’s the link http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=6696398n

The Media Watch Dog has spoken. Woof-Woof.

So What if Jerry Brown is 72?

June 11th, 2010
Media Watchdog, barking.
Media Watchdog, barking.

Spare Me.

CA elections today. The essential story is who is going to be the next Governor of California? When the cheesy reporters tell the story of assumed Demo gubernatorial nominee Jerry Brown, they manage to isolate Brown’s age—70-something—e.g. “at 72 years old…” and then go on to waste more airtime reporting more non-news.

Everyone already knows he’s over 70, and frankly, nobody fucking cares, except lazy reporters who are in their 30s and can’t imagine how someone 72 —can function? Much less be governor? I’d like to know how someone that stupid gets to be a reporter, much less has the right to vote.

The media watchdog is barking big time.