I ask this even though I happily post links regarding silly fluff on BoyCulture.com; I do that because I've always believed one can be intelligent and care about things on a deeper level while simultaneously being engaged in (or repulsed by, but aware of) things that are decidedly more superficial.
But maybe that's changing.
I was thinking about this in relation to the ridiculous ageism emanating from (not all, but too many) gay men. I'm most acutely aware of it because people who are anti-Madonna—who, admittedly, have always used whatever weapons were at their disposal—harp on how she should retire or belongs in an old-folks' home and worse, something that's been going on since she was in her late forties and that has intensified as the clock ticks on.
Many of them are simply fans of other divas, so just want to hurt her or humiliate her fans out of liking her in any way possible, so it shouldn't be taken so seriously. And yet...it's pretty disgusting and seems to tap into strongly-held beliefs of theirs on aging.
It's not by any means contained to Madonna or to women; some of the responses to my "History's Hottest TV Actors" list—both here and on sites that generously linked me—were shockingly ageist.
"Did my grandma write this?"
"This list was created by very, very old Queens from the 1970s. Eeeew!"
"The Guys they had 40 years ago, never looked good in the first place!!! I think most of them have died of old age by now."
In spite of the fact that the list was explicitly supposed to be "of all time," the criticisms (not that they were in the majority) centered around me/the creator being old, or even—as that last comment suggests—around the concept that these guys could never have been hot because, being mortal, they're no longer hot and might even be (GASP!) dead.
I always feel rather smug about such people, who sound dumb enough that they may not realize they're heading toward old age along with all the rest of us (if they're lucky) so will hate themelves even more than they already do once they arrive there, and may in fact be so stupid they'll be shocked when they die.
This isn't an in-depth study on Internet behavior since I'm just using a couple of recent examples from my own experience. But haven't you noted the virulent ageism coming from specifically young gay men over the past few years?
Or has it always been there and I'm only noticing it now that I'm nearly 44?
I'll tell you this: When I was a teenager, I was not ageist. At all. I loved the past as much as the present. I had Madonna on my wall the first chance I got, but Marilyn Monroe was up there, too. And when Tina Turner had a fortysomething comeback, I added her to the wall pantheon. I do not recall anyone at my school ever making an ageist comment about Tina Turner, or about the fact that so many of our idols then were, unlike today, not teenagers. Cyndi Lauper was 30 when she was on top of the world. As I recently pointed out on this blog, Rihanna has come close to surpassing Madonna's achievements in the number of #1 songs they've had, and all before Rihanna has reached the age Madonna was when she had her first single.
There are exceptions. Kids are interested in the Twilight cast and Jay-Z and others who are no spring chickens. And of course I think there has always been a built-in magnetism that younger people have toward similarly young people and things. But I don't recall it ever being as resolute or as articulated as it is lately.
A friend offered the provocative idea that AIDS has something to do with it, that a large number of men who would now be in their fifties on up disappeared, making aging less visible (and leaving fewer around to push back).
But I wonder if gay people—who used to aspire to be philosophers and self-exploratory writers and artists and adventurers without boundary—are dumbing down as they assimilate with not the straight world but with just theworld.
I'm not saying all non-gay people were, historically, zombies. But I think whatever distinguished the thinkers and the daredevils was some X factor (inborn intelligence? an evolutionary response to one's surroundings?) might be more universally applied to gay people today, whereas in the past, simply being gay—in my opinion—led to a higher incidence of intellectual rigor and questioning of authority.
Are gay people becoming less intrigued by "the other" as they become less identified with it? And is that making us more small-minded, bigoted and/or ageist than we once were? Dumber?
It's a question, not a statement. What's your answer?
Love Ya Bunches