Tuesday, 29 December 2009

More than just a number

Ageing is an ugly, unforgiving process. Especially in Hollywood, where the concept of a biological clock has been replaced with a gender-neutral 'fuckability' clock. Past the age of forty, you need Harrison Ford's charisma or Susan Sarandon's voodoo priestess if you want to keep working.

Despite the fickle nature of the entertainment business, there are some stars out there who are happy ageing in the public eye. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be to everybody's taste.

Ironically enough, the Daily Mail has spent the last decade supposedly championing the rights of victimised pensioners. They pay too much council tax, they're intimidated by hoodies, they innocently shoot fleeing teenagers in the back with a shotgun. But give the editorial staff of the Mail a picture of an ageing celebrity enjoying themselves and suddenly they're happy-slapping the old folks like it's buy-one-get-one-free on ASBOs.

Christmas day is supposed to be a time for kind thoughts, family togetherness and goodwill to all mankind. Sadly, not for William Shatner, who found himself on the receiving end of a barrage of insults, because he still bothers to exercise at the age of 78.

According to the Mail, "William Shatner's waistline that has a warp factor. The Star Trek actor looked decidedly rotund as he strolled along the beach in a large pair of red swim shorts." Amazing, William Shatner is no longer the same shape he was forty five years ago. Is anyone?

Today, it was Paul Hogan's turn. He was also on the beach with his wife, looking happy(ish), relaxed and active. In a 'stop-the-presses' demonstration of the power of journalism, the Mail reports "Hogan revealed a slight paunch in his bermuda shorts".

He's seventy. We should be happy he's able to dress himself unaided. Again, the headline "From Crocodile Dundee to old croc: Age finally catches up with Paul Hogan at 70" suggests we should be surprised, and maybe a little disgusted, that these people age and deteriorate like the rest of us.

Maybe this is all research for the next time the Mail launches a campaign advocating for greater respect for the nation's elderly. In order to understand the problems afflicting our society, this represents an extensive investigation into the psychology of bullying. By attempting to uncover the fear that younger generations have towards the elderly, the Mail's output is manifesting itself in aggression and name-calling.

Or maybe I'm old enough to know better?

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