Ageism is one of the last non-taboo prejudices left in the country. If a public figure disparages almost any other group, he can expect the P.C. Police to break down his door and haul him in front of the court of public opinion (or Oprah) to apologize for his insensitive remarks. However, when it comes to mocking the elderly, the risks have been minimal. Movies and TV shows routinely have fun joking about seniors’ supposed inability to reason, move, have sex, or adapt to modern ways. Entertainment executives speak openly about their disdain for older demographics as they pursue younger audiences with abandon.
But change is in the wind. I sense it’s already begun, and it will pick up steam in 2007 and beyond. Mark my 60-year-old words, making any disparaging remark about, or any fun of, the elderly will become the biggest taboo of all in the next few years. How can I be so sure? Simple. The Baby Boomers are coming. The year 1946 (my birth year) marked the official beginning of the post-World War II boom in births, and tens of millions of new seniors will be making their way into the marketplace in the coming few years.
We Boomers may not be the “Greatest Generation,” as our parents have come to be called due to their defense of freedom in the world, but we are the most self-absorbed generation ever, and we firmly believe the world revolves around us. Hey, didn’t we stop a war, throw out a President and open everyone’s eyes to the wonders of peace and drugs and sexual freedom? We’ve been running things for decades now, and we’re not about to give up that power. When we expressed our disdain for old folks, we meant the really old folks, not us.
You see, now that we — and our generational icons — are moving into our 60s, we’ve come to realize the value and wisdom of age. Besides, we don’t have to look or act older. We can continue to wear torn jeans and go to rock concerts, use a little cosmetic surgery here or there to make sure we look young and a little Viagra to make sure we act young, and search for wonder drugs that might one day lead to a breakthrough in science that could keep us in charge forever! Wouldn’t that be the coolest?
So let me be the first to alert all you young bucks who think older folks aren’t important: things are about to change. You’re messing with the wrong generation, buddy! It’s us. We’re big in number and you’re not going to treat us as an unimportant demographic. As for the P.C. Police, we created them, we know how to use them, and we’ll have them knocking on your doors at the slightest provocation.
You’ve been warned.