Evelyn Hannon: Aging Disgracefully


How This Video On Aging Inadvertently Demeans Aging

It may not have been the intention, but...

How do Millennials view "aging?"

This is going to be short and not necessarily sweet.

I’m 76 years-old and I just watched a video created by AARP (American Association of Retired People) with the accompanying hashtag #DisruptAging. It’s goal seems to be to have ‘millennials’ (ages 17 to about 35) examine aging, what old really looks like, and what older folks are capable of. Already 25,000 people have watched the video, yet (sorry AARP) it certainly didn’t impress me.

Dear readers, please watch this very short video and record your feelings as you are watching it. Did you find it believable? 

A long time ago, I spent four years studying the world of film and television. I learned how editing works. I understand how to take what you need from the footage you gather. I was taught how to phrase questions in order to get the answers one needs. Today, as I watched this short video all the critical film analysis I was taught 26 years ago came rushing back. So did my indignation.

How many young people of 17- 35 do you know that would claim that ’ 50 is old' ?’ Give me a break! If I asked my grandchildren of 12, 14 and 15 the same question, maybe they would say 50. In fact, I messaged all three of them with this exact query. At what age should a person be called old? The 12 year old said, maybe 65 or 70. The 15 year old said, ‘Maybe 75.’ The 14 year old did say,’50,'  but, hey they are all not yet 17 or 35, for that matter. All I can say is I would have loved to be 'on set' when these questions were asked. How were they worded and how many interviews were discarded, not included in the video because the interviewees answered,’old is seventy, eighty, ninety’?  And, how old were the interviewers and the videographers?

Kids and what they consider "old"

Did you notice that the young man of 35 who taught the woman how to box tried to explain his original assessment of old?  He said, ‘what I thought about then was…’  but he was abruptly cut off mid-sentence in the edit. Why? It probably didn’t suit the video’s thesis. 

In terms of portraying the ‘actions of old people,’ I certainly was not convinced by what I saw. Ask someone to stand in front of a camera and act out how an 'old person’ texts, I don’t think anybody would text nimbly. In fact, if they asked me, at seventy-plus, I probably would have done exactly what these young people did. What does that prove? No surprise there. Though we of 60-plus are climbing mountains, running marathons, and winning Nobel Prizes, the mysteries of cyberspace belong to the young. Period.

Just about everybody has an ‘inner ham.’ Ask them how an old person does jumping jacks, they will do their best to overstate and try to make you laugh. That’s exactly what the first half of this video captures. Though the results may prove entertaining to a millennial, I believe the portrayals were a total exaggeration and manipulation. I felt it was demeaning to older adults and counter productive to the real goal of the video.

On the other hand, I loved the meetings between the young and the older subjects. The young teaching the older. The older demonstrating their physical strength, their vast knowledge, and their thoughts on aging gracefully. It was a treat to see the surprises and the positive acknowledgements on both sides of 50. That was spot on, it was empowering for both, and I could have watched a full video about just that. I related to it and it made me smile. I’m sure my grandchildren would have enjoyed the footage, too. What a wonderful way to show millennials that age is simply a number. Aging is not to be parodied. Rather, when done gracefully, it is an essence to respect and admire.

What is "Old?"

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