Sunday Comment: An Open Letter to Heroes Over 40!
Your Botox and hair plugs aren’t fooling anybody. You’ve passed the halfway point and there’s no going back. I’m not saying you’re old, but…well, actually, that’s exactly what I’m saying. At least compared to me, a 24-year-old female, you are old. You’re in the Dad Zone. And contrary to what you seem to believe, standing next to a woman my age doesn’t make you appear any younger.
It’s called The Rule of Contrast. Her perfectly smooth skin makes yours look even more creased. Her supermodel-esque stature makes you look puny and stunted. The muscle tone and lack of body fat she comes by naturally makes the 6-pack abs you’ve forced upon your ageing body look particularly dehydrated, like a blowup doll with a little too much air let out of it. Simply put: the younger she looks, the older you look.
Do these comments hurt? I can’t imagine they do, since movie stars have a penchant for surrounding themselves with ‘yes men’. For every person who dares to throw criticism your way, I’m sure there are a hundred others who take great delight in re-inflating your ego. Of course, this is true of both male and female stars. The difference is that society’s judgments start seeping in to an actress’s field of vision the moment laugh lines start appearing on her face (or as soon as she hits 35…whichever happens to come first). For women, the word “superstar” has an expiration date. Popular male actors, on the other hand, can go an entire lifetime without ever having to deal with legitimate criticism of their actions and work patterns. Which is how we’ve ended up with a bunch of Old Dudes romancing women young enough to be their daughters.
So I doubt you’ll ever read this, but just in case you do, I’d like for you to humor me for a moment. Imagine if the comments I made above were things you were forced to hear every day in the mainstream media. Imagine being asked how you deal with being So Incredibly Old in every single interview. Imagine that your value as a human being is tied almost exclusively to how close to age 25 you can manage to look. Imagine fading away into a celebrity abyss, and having all your accomplishments erased, just because you’ve dared to overstay your welcome (aka, you’ve continued to work after marriage and childbirth).
That is the reality female stars face every day, a reality you have actively helped create. Congratulations, you’re an ageist jerk!
Right about now, I’m sure you’re asking yourself, “Why should I care? So what if I’m making life miserable for half the human population? It doesn’t affect meat all!” And I guess I can’t argue with that. You’re doing pretty well for yourself, jerkiness aside. I won’t even bother trying to appeal to your sense of social responsibility by asking you to consider what you can do to make the world a better place for women, because I doubt that side of you really exists (and if it does, it lives in the tall shadow of your narcissism). So all I’m going to tell you is that no matter how many millions you rake in, no matter how young your heroines are, it won’t change the fact that you are past your prime. And if you think everyone around you hasn’t noticed, you’re kidding yourself. You are subsisting solely on a legacy you built 20 years ago…in a way, I guess you could say you’re living on the charity of your 25-year-old self. If He hadn’t been so great, so full of charisma, so ahead of His time, You wouldn’t exist today. You would just be another tired cliché of a middle-aged guy chasing the skirts of young girls who are only interested in how being with an older man can make their lives a little easier.
The tragedy of all this is that no one becomes a superstar by accident. There is something special about you, and that quality—indefinable as it is—has given you a lifetime of adoration and career security. You have every resource available to you to be a trailblazer, to change the game for the better, to leave your mark on the world of cinema. To be a real hero. All you have to do is stop trying to be the man you were two decades ago, and start being a man deserving of a place in the history books: a man who is self-aware, mature, and perhaps a little weather-worn…but still beautiful. Because if anyone can attest to the fact that life can still be exciting and full of adventure after youth has faded away, it’s you. Your life didn’t end just because you turned 40, or got married, or had children, did it? Neither does a woman’s. In fact, the most interesting phase of life is often the one that comes after Happily Ever After. I personally can’t wait to see what life has in store for me when I’m your age, and here you are trying to pretend that you’re still my age. Aren’t you bored yet?
I’ll leave you with this final plea. For once, try to embrace your age. Try to embrace women your age, literally and figuratively. You have been put in a position of immense privilege and power, and there are so many stories out there that deserve to be told…and they don’t include May-December romances. Show us something we haven’t seen already, and you may just find that your second innings are immeasurably more rewarding than your first.
A fan who expects more
Do you agree with Brooke? Do feel free to share your views in the comments section below!