Monday, January 21, 2008

Liberal Radio and Ageism

You know - anytime there is ageism in the general media, it is compounded many times for the middle aged queer caught in this uber youth-oriented gay culture. I am a big listener to liberal talk radio. My politics are a little left of center but not so left that I think I know more than everybody else.

So I'm a little shocked listening the last few weeks to Los Angeles KTLK (1150am). Suddenly, I'm my grandparents and younger progressive people are me during the 60's and 70's. Ageism is rampant on progressive talk radio. While doing my time as a commuter, I counted seven examples in a week of what I would consider ageism.

Enough abstraction: let me give you an example. This is not verbatim, I don't have a transcript. But I also have no reason to color this.

One of my favorite talkers is Randi Rhodes. After the Obama win in Iowa, she went on this revelry about how it was a new generation and a new age...a reason for hope. It was "those under 50" who were saying it was time for a change.

(If this were audio, I would put in a big, screeching brakes sound here.)

Whoa! First of all, I hate when people talk about the 60's social revolution with nostalgia. Too many sell-outs. Too much looking back - not enough looking forward. But let's face it - even with the sell-outs and the country's tendency to swing all over the ideological spectrum -a strong remnant of what came out of the 60's positively changed the way freedom loving people of 00's live. Gay Liberation would be one of them. The "troll" one laughs at in the bar may be the Thomas Jefferson of queerdom - but that's getting off on a sentimental sidetrack.

What is it about people that they need to set up something as an opposition? Left wing vs. right wing. One race vs. another race. Poor vs. middle-class vs. rich. Gay vs. straight. Instead of going for the stereotype that anyone over 50 is opposed to change, why not just say something like: the need for change has reached critical mass and change is about to happen. I'm over 50 and starving for a change in this country. Many people I know over 50 share that with me.

But, no. We have to set up an opposition, even if it means creating one. And they are being very creative over on liberal talk radio.

I remember The Who singing, "I hope I die before I get old." Back then I liked the idea of avoiding becoming older because old sounded stagnant and without growth and wonder. Have you seen Roger Daltry lately? Most of us made it past the feared 30's and are well on our way to twice that in spite of ourselves. And it's natural for the young to assume age is less rich than it actually is. It's an unknown territory to them. And that is exactly why we can't let the youth tell us who we, as the "over 50", are or should be. They have no idea. (However, the joke here is that most of them will get it in about 30 or fewer years.)

So whenever you hear a Randi Rhodes (who, by-the-way, is no spring chicken herself) on the radio pigeon-holing us as the non-progressive old, in your head, fill in the word or phrase to describe the older folk with "black" or "woman" or "Jew" or "gay", and if it sounds offensive, it is. (I can hear them saying, "It's the non-blacks who are are bringing about this needed change." - Not if they want to stay on radio.)

Then do something about it.

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