I don’t understand ageism and loathe it. For most of my early twenties the only men I would date were all in their forties. They were infinitely more interesting that guys my age, not to mention reliably better in bed.
I like older people in general. I like the wisdom they have, their certainty of character, I’m more attracted to the package that they’ve become.
In the last episode of my podcast UNCENSORED! the topic of ageism came up with my co-host Mark Wigmore, vis-a-vis Madonna, now 53. I said something to the effect that the queen of pop’s very public aging was shining a spotlight on how we as a society feel about and treat people as we age – especially women. I suggested then and suggest now that perhaps we’ve never had to look at the the subject quite same way before, simply because ofÂ the enormity of who Madonna is. When has a bigger star ever aged before us, and when has there been such a connected global village all able to watch and comment?
Yesterday Lady M’s brilliant new album title was announced: M.D.N.A. a witty play on her name, on the idea that her DNA is throughout the musical offering, and mostly, a coy nod to the club drug MDMA; the woman has always known her audience.Â Remember being high on it that one Pride, dancing our asses off to ‘Beautiful Stranger’? Me neither.
Allan: OMG!!! She’s still around that old bag?
Antonio: Isn’t she over now?
Peter: She’s so over she needs to retire ASAP!!!!!!!
Joseph: boring….wow…trying so hard
Precisely what I was talking about on UNCENSORED! Of course there were comments from delighted and thrilled Madonna fans who feel the gents above need their heads checked, but the gents above do represent attitudes I notice more and more about ageing, often with public, prancing, posing Madonna the target.
I wonder if these same people would make similar comments about male performers? Michael Jackson: was he “trying so hard” as he worked at 50 to put together the tour that never happened? Does Paul McCartney, 69, get called “an old bag” when he releases new work or tours? I saw Prince last month and an overriding comment I heard from other attendees expressed how impressive it was he had such stamina and was in such fine form – like Madonna – for his age (53).
Why does Madonna need to retire? Madonna, providing an amazing example of how ultimately our age is meaningless, that joy is ours to be had at all points of life,Â that you don’t have to stop being curious, stop wanting to expand, grow and experience, should instead go quietly into the land of golf, gardens and early-bird specials? Instead of celebrating that she’s putting forth yet another leading edge idea – that you choose how to age – she, according to the likes ofÂ Peter, should cease that, along being doing and having that which brings her and millions joy – because of, what again? A number?
Everyone knows I’m a massive Madonna fan, but this post doesn’t come from that place. It comes from, as I said on UNCENSORED! the fact that there’s no other woman today providing such a large example of continuing to live playfully, continuing to enjoy, alongside her audience, the delicious trappings and exhilaration of music and performance and art, than our aging Madonna, maverick and teacher once again. Aging her way, with the same spirit she’s had since she was young, only, as with the older guys I used to date, more interesting now than ever before. I’d far rather have dinner with this Madonna than the one who rolled around on the floor in a wedding dress (something I can see Lady Gaga doing any second, but I digress.)
It’s worth considering within ourselves, ageism. What attitudes and beliefs are in you about your age, aging, and people older than you? Because those attitudes will be what steer you along the route Madonna’s blazing through, or, that which Allan, Antonio, Peter and Joseph seem destined to travel themselves.
My pal Joe (also a Madonnaholic, he got into the music business because of Madonna, and the image I’ve seen of him and her together years ago is sweetly heartbreaking, such is the joy in his eyes) also responded on my Facebook post: “Shaun, please delete the original four idiots from your page.”
No, each to their own opinion and attitudes, each of us to a life of our own making. For me I know ageism does a disservice the the grand finale, the sum total of what each of us has become. It negates the journey taken and suggests the only part that matters is when someone was in a charming ingenue stage where they usually don’t know WTF about anything.
The catch is, if that’s your rule, it’s only a matter of time until it applies to you. Like Madonna, I believe rules are meant to be broken – at all ages.