Turn the 'age

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 18 July 2009

Dear Fee, I knew it was James Stewart in 'Rear Window', I can see his face and hear his voice. But I got caught up in something in the kitchen and Peckory Greg got top billing.

Watching footage of Fern Britton leave 'Good Morning', hearing about Jo Whiley being superceded by Fearne Cotton, reading about Arlene Phillips being sidelined for Alesha Dixon, made my heart hamnmer in my chest. However you cut it ageism is so rife now that people are getting used to it and treating people like moi with the disrespect we don't deserve One of my managers at LBC said that Jo, at 44, was too old to be presenting a show for young people.

I am appalled at the insensitivity and crassness that surrounds me.

What the friggin' hell is too old?

To old for what?

Too old to speak or listen?

Too old to sit on a settee and talk to somebody?

Too old to captivate an audience?

Is Dame Judi dench too old to act? Is Nelson Mandela too old to inspire? Is the Pope to old to preach?

All audiences are now being told that TOO OLD starts mid forties! And what kind of personnel manager is making the decision that women are past their sell by date if they were born in the 60's?

It's not like this is something new but now it's worse than ever. The excuse of falling audiences and the recession, the excuse that the young need a reflection of themselves is all bollox.

The young don't watch telly, they never have. The demographic that watches 'Good Morning', and 'Strictly Come Prancing' don't need a 28 year old who sounds like a fart in the bath. I'm sure Holly Willoughby is a delightful thing but I have no interest in her breast size of opinions. Alesha Dixon maybe be beautiful and sweet but she knows as much about a quick ball change as my cobbler. Jo whiley has four children and a brain full of facts, Fearne Cotton doesn't.

If things carry on as they are the next generation of pundits will be sucking on their rusks as they dribble their way into work. Judges are appointed in their 70's because it's widely recognised that wisdom is born out of experience. Age carries a gravitas. If I had known then what I know now I would have left this pubescant industry a long time ago and gone to live in Japan, a society which holds a high value of respect for the aged, its treated as a fixed factor in Japanese culture.

Am I jealous? No.

Am I angry? Damn right I'm angry.

But if I show my anger I am called an hysterical old biddy who would be better off working in a Charity shop selling paperbacks and boxes of linen handerchiefs.

Do I intend to have a face lift like so many of my contemparies? No. Why should I? Nobody balked at Mother Theresa's wrinkles. Nobody winces at Robert Redford's lines.

There is something deeply sad in our Society at the moment. A media industry that values ratings and profit over content. A media industry that thrives on fear, sensationalism and cynicism. An industry that employs the young to attack the old. A tool that discourages debate and encourages mass cliche.

'I am old , I am old I shall wear the bottom of my trousers rolled', so sayeth T.S.Eliot. And I do, and I shall.

As long as I have the ability to fight my ground I shall look into the eyes of the young and remind them that it won't be too long before they look like me. In the words of an OLD song;

'Love,like youth, is wasted on the young'

Jeni Barnett tells of her scrumptious time at Good Food Live in her first audiobook! Download NOW from iTunes

Comments

1. At July 18, 2009 8:55 AM Rhianon wrote:

EXCELLENT. You're right. I was born in 1963 and when people who work in the same centre as me say they were born in 1993, as one girl (kid, she's a bloody child) said this week, I fear for the level of respect shown to my oldies. Whereas they know music such as Cole Porter songs, Sinatra stuff, Musicals from the 7 Brides era, she's never heard of any of it, she's all Kasabian and Britny Spears. They talk about Harold Wilson and King George as if it was yesterday, She's out of her era, you know? And please don't get me wrong, she's pefectly pleasant to them and perfectly bland, but has never had any experience of life. She's sweet and I'm sure in time she'll be a good assett to the place, but how can she relate to them? Thats the job, at heart. Not her fault, don't get me wrong, but she's there as part of the drive to give our centre a more youthful front. Our old dears are just that. Old. They're not wrong to be old, but thats how it seems. Surely they have the right to be themselves, just as the rest of us do.

2. At July 18, 2009 7:08 PM June wrote:

Hi Jeni

I agree, but I would like to make this point, when we were young were we concerned about "older women" being made "redundant"?
Did we think it was wrong? It's only now we are the older women that we are so up in arms about it all.
Just thought I would give as all something to consider.

Love June

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