Oscars Flub & the Knee-Jerk Response That is Ageism – A Challenge
So, I watched the Oscars with a friend last night. As midnight here on the East Coast neared, it was time to reveal the winning film for the Best Picture category. Like a bizarre replay of the recent Miss Universe foible, the wrong film was announced as the winner. A little time would reveal that the mistake involved a backstage mix-up in the handoff of the envelopes to the award presenters. Yet, immediately after the kerfuffle took place, several comments and Tweets let loose, targeting the age of the esteemed presenters, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway.
Here are two of the most gifted artists in film history, with several award-winning acting and directing credits between them, who were chosen to present this prestigious award in honor of the 50th anniversary of their lauded 1967 film “Bonnie and Clyde.” In the blink of an eye, they were reduced from icons to the “old people.” One well-intended Tweet still left a sting saying, “Don’t y’all go blaming the old people for that one. They gave Warren Beatty the wrong envelope.”
Ah, the knee-jerk response that is ageism…. I’ve been teaching and speaking and writing about ageism for years now. But, this was one of those times it felt deeply personal for me, even if I can’t call Faye and Warren BFFs. Here were two artistic giants from MY time. As a lover of fine films, I grew up watching Warren and Faye own the screen in darkened movie theaters (yeah, pre-Netflix and all). They deserved better than this.
For all the joy it can bring by creating connectedness, the speed of social media seems to give us permission to blurt the first thoughtless thing that comes to mind and broadcast it to millions. This is, indeed, its shadow side. When it comes to ageism and ableism (or any ism, for that matter), the speed/easy access combination creates a forum where negative messaging can reverberate at the speed of light.
So, I have a challenge for you. Let’s flood social media today (this week!) with positive reflections of the Elders in our lives! Let’s turn that speed and reach around to serve our mission! Share a bit of wisdom from an older, wiser human that has touched you, buoyed you, or transformed you. Reflect on the brilliance, kindness, creativity, or thoughtfulness of an Elder in your world. Tweet, post, or shout it from the rooftops. It really can be different….