Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Who’s your mamma?

So, I had this wondrously wicked rant planned on ageism in Hollywood. I mentioned the space-time continuum and wormholes and the very fabric of the universe. Heck, I even did a little math. I went all out. But then, well, then I actually did the research on the object of my rage and I had to scrap the whole damn thing. Pity really, I got off quite a ripper.

So, here is what got me so steamed, initially. News came out over the weekend that Olivia Wilde had signed on to play Justin Timberlake’s mother in an upcoming movie. Olivia’s age: 26. Justin’s age: 29. Um, I’m no math whiz but those numbers just don’t pencil out.

I had seen this news tidbit in headlines and in some harrumphy tweets the last few days. Hollywood’s ass-backwards view on aging! She is three years younger than him! What the fuckity fuck!?!

But then those pesky facts got in the way. Because, you see, Olivia is playing Justin’s mom in a futuristic thriller about a society where all aging stops at age 25. So, um, that whole crazy age conundrum where she could never, given the laws of physics and basic math, be his mother thing now actually works. But I still have all this anger? What will I do with it?

Of course, almost any anger at the entertainment industry’s obsession with youth – particularly female youth – is justified. Women are past their prime by 40 while men are still happily headlining into their 60s. And May-December romances are just part of the everyday lexicon. Try to think of five recent adult dramas where the male and female romantic leads were the same age. Or give me one where the woman was older and it wasn’t used as a gimmick. Keep thinking, I’ll go make a sandwich.

While Olivia’s age non-disparity with her supposed son makes sense within the confines of the story, this Oedipal Aging Complex is actually also nothing new. Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft) was only six years older than dear, sweet Benjamin (Dustin Hoffman) in “The Graduate.” And Alexander the Great (Colin Farrell) was a year older than his mama Queen Olympias (Angelina Jolie) in “Alexander.”

Though, if you really want to get into the serious math of the situation, Olivia’s newest as-yet-untitled project actually still follows in the same ageist footsteps as always – though on a slightly smaller scale. Now stay with me here: Olivia is three years younger than Justin, who is playing her son. Justin is five years older than Amanda Seyfried, who is playing his girlfriend. And Amanda is seven years younger than Vincent Kartheiser, who is playing her father. So a guy can have a mom that is three years younger than him and a girlfriend who is five years younger, but a gal still needs to have a guy be older than her to play her dad, if only by seven years. Whew, math.

OK, at this point you’ve probably glazed over what with the numbers and the physics and math. But my point, and I do have one, is that even if my meticulous rant didn’t work out in this instance, it wouldn’t kill Hollywood to have the math work out in the ladies favor for a change. Age is just a number, but numbers doesn’t lie. Well, that and everyone loves looking at pictures of Olivia Wilde, right? Right.


Snaz said...

Rachel Griffiths is five years younger than Johnny Depp and she played his mother in Blow. Infuriating *and* laughably bad.

virgotex said...

See 'Searching for Debra Winger' documentary for more-good docu.

Anonymous said...

A futuristic thriller in which all aging ends at 25? Sounds like Logan's Run to me. And they're remaking that soon too.

cocoro said...

got it, I mean I got the anger.
(didn't get the reason why then)
actually very earlier about 5:57 am.
I worried roughly until 7am, and decided just
sleep, and strongly believed everything's
gonna be okay.
so, then...
what can I do for you anyway, ma'am?
nothing now?, then save it for later.

the picture looks kind of scary, especially
the eye gazing....

Anonymous said...

Nothing new: Jessie Royce Landis played Cary Grant's mother in North By Northwest in 1959. She was only slightly more than 7 years older than he. It's infuriating that for all the "progress" not much has changed. And of course women still make pennies to the dollar compared to men. Are we still at the stage where young women as a group shun the label 'feminist'? And let's all celebrate that serial harasser (maybe rapist) Ben Roethlisberger's suspension is over. And Charlie Sheen's sheen has only been slightly dimmed in the wake of yet another attack on the women he 'loves'.

Panty Buns said...

It seems to me that the premise and plot of the movie, which seems to me to be a pretext and rationalized justification for more of the same ageism regularly practiced and promoted in Hollywood, would be likely to exacerbate any pre-existing resentment of same and totally justify the rant you had planned.
Since I agree with your point of view I'll be looking forward to reading your future rants on the subject and following the "Warped Passages" style (Lisa Randall) mathematical and inter-dimensional analysis.
I would love to read any real ripper you get off.

Emily said...

Still don't know how I feel about the premise of this movie... But damn, it sure was nice clicking on your blog and seeing a picture of my future wife at the top of the page. :) I don't need to say how unbearably attractive Olivia is, we all know it. Just expressing my appreciation for making her (more or less) the topic for today. Thank you, honestly.

Okay, I know I don't need to say this, but holy hell that woman is perfection.

URBAN Sapphic said...

Age-ism in Hollywood ISN'T about whether or not a younger actor can play an older character, it's about older actors NOT being given opportunities to practice their art.
Now you mean to tell me thatyou initially raged without considering this fact?

I think I asked before how old you are.

You should post about that.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, I'm too distracted by that last photo to even comprehend your text...promise, I will go back and reread it...

Anonymous said...

Gail O'Grady played Gary Sinese's mother on CSI:NY. Go look their ages up on IMDB.

- scorpio54

Robin said...

To be fair, Vinnie may be several years older than Amanda, but he still looks about 15 when he's clean shaven.

(I totally get your point though, and the rage is justified.)