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Dr. Cheryl Pappas

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40 Is the New 70

Posted: 07/10/2012 3:44 pm

There's a brilliant new comedy on television.

It's a car commercial.

It's dark, and apparently subtle, as comedy goes, but some adolescent advertising intern sure has a gift for cutting-edge funny.

It involves a voice-over narrative of a 20-something son describing his parents as examples of aging people who naturally, because we all know this happens to the aged, have become anti-social.

But wait!

Just in time for a life makeover, the parents buy a mentality-saving car. Cut to scene in car with laughing aged, 40-something parents.

The punch line -- or the assumptive message, depending on the mental abilities of the audience -- is clearly the slide-in negative about what being 40-something means today. In other words, this is how advertising plants unconscious seeds of attitude and propaganda, perceived by people to be truths.

So what is their implanted message about being 40? Unless you need to believe that 40 is old and over, it's not good news, and why would anyone need to believe that?

Now that I think of it, this very belief is probably why younger and younger people are feverish for face work. Am I alone in outrage over this insidious, nauseating little 30-second media hate message?

I'll say it again: 40 is being broadcast as old.

Are we going to buy this, or are we going to say, "Hell, no! We won't go!"

Naturally, no one dares anymore to utter aloud the word "ageism," specifically because that expression is an oldie, thereby suggesting the potential speaker is very old, lives in the Bay Area and wears Birkenstocks.

Let's face it. Getting older is so frowned upon that there is a billion-dollar business in the removal of any trace of that frown line.

And guess what? It's not just women who are targeted for being aged and anti-social. It's both 40-something Mom and Dad.

Not that there is a fair comparison to be made between the ages of 20 and 40.

I'm guessing that underneath this toxic commercial is the car company's hope that we agree, without thinking about it (and that's the point: we're not thinking) that people in their 40s are: a) old and b) "anti-social" because they are less likely to pretend to be "friends" with people on Facebook and other social media.

If I'm right, "anti-social-media" is now synonymous with "anti-social."

The existential question of trees falling down in an empty forest applies here -- only now, we're talking intelligence and real friendship instead of trees. We're also talking about how age is perceived. Younger is increasingly older and there's no one in the forest shouting out against, or even hearing, the stupidity.

The way this is going, 21 could become the defining age line between young and old. In Hollywood, 22-year-olds are already there.

For the rest of us, am I the only one who cares that 40 is the new 70?

 
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