April 2013 - Becoming Visible
I write this as we see the first promising signs of spring, and just after the Oscars. Change is in the air. Am I alone in thinking that there are a growing number of movies about older people and older actors on the screen? And not just getting lifetime achievement awards, but as viable candidates for best actor/actress, director, and other awards! Not so long ago, actors stopped getting calls by age 40.
There are some great movies that feature older actors. But it seems to me that the movies are increasingly not just comedies about funny old people (think Grumpy Old Men, Cocoon, Calendar Girls), end of life (Bucket List) or coping with the ravages of Alzheimer’s (Away From Her), but some addressed very real aging issues and just normal daily life. Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones tried to restore the magic in their marriage in Hope Springs. Amour explored whether a man can keep his marital vow to care for his wife at home until death. Red featured three retired spies who haven’t lost their mojo. Best ExoticMarigold Hotel featured a host of familiar actors playing characters wrestling with a number of midlife issues. Beginners addressed adult children dealing with parents dating and homosexuality. AARP publishes lists of best movies of the year to guide you to some of the great ones each year.
I think that this is partly an economic phenomenon. The production companies have realized that Boomers still go to the movies, they pay for entertainment (especially by our favorite performers—just look at the number of aging rock stars still on tour—who knew they’d make it to 60?), they buy products, and they look to media for role models. Aren’t we also seeing older characters in television commercials doing more than selling Geritol?
I would like to think this is the beginning of a culture change. Whether art reflects life or life imitates art, older people will be seen and noticed. It is said that the Boomers will change this stage of life as they have every other stage before it, and I would like to think we will effect change and make the world a better place. But I think we owe a debt of gratitude to the generations before us who worked hard and paved the way for the changes in civil rights and women’s rights that we’ve seen in our lifetime.
Are we now seeing the beginning of another culture change that is about the right of older adults to be visible, to be respected, to remain active? You are paving the way and we Boomers will make it the new normal. Let the movies be our harbinger of change!
PSRC is proud to be a part of this change. Our Next Step program is affiliated with Encore.org, a national organization which is actively engaging people in changing the way we think about life after retirement, and the need for society to view older workers differently. Encore.org supports the Purpose Prizes which are awarded to people who are making a difference in their communities and the world through developing encore projects. Please come hear Marci Alboher speak on April 23at 7 pm about her newly published Encore Career Handbook, which will guide you through thinking differently about your encore years. Explore our new Encore Internships which provide opportunities to make a mid-life career change.
Stand out! Be visible! Make a difference! Confront and dismantle old and outdated stereotypes of older people. “Be the change you want to see in the world” (Gandhi).
Susan W. Hoskins LCSW
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