Thursday, April 18, 2013

The news and the olds.

Diane Sawyer and me.

I’m getting older. So are my friends. We tell each other how good we look and we mean it. We look healthy, alive, interested, interesting.

What we don’t tell each other is how young we look. Because we don’t. We look—more or less—our age. We know it and, while we visit our dermatologist and perhaps even a plastic surgeon; while we wear flattering makeup, patronize talented hair stylists and care about clothes, we don’t make excessive efforts to fool anyone about how many years we've been gracing the planet.

So why does just about every anchor or news personality on tv—most of whom are in their 50s, 60s or beyond—so faux-young?  Look up Diane Sawyer or Nancy Grace, Leslie Stahl, Greta Van Susteren or Katie Couric on the internet and, odds are, one of Google’s first guesses as you type in their names includes the term “plastic surgery.”  Barbara Walters is pushing eighty but, counting in TV years, eighty isn’t pushing back.  And it’s not just the women.  Al Roker, Sam Donaldson and Sam Champion all rank high on the plastic surgery websites.
I’m a true believer in the power of lighting, hair and makeup and I’m certainly not proposing that these knowledgable and experienced people look as if they’d just rolled out of bed to tell us about the most recent global disasters, political crises and economic trends.   In fact, I want them to look their best.  Still, how much Botox, plastic surgery, teeth whitening and fake bake are we supposed to be fooled by?
We grew up with them;  we know approximately how old they are.  We know what we look like and we can probably even guess what they look like.
As we grow older, looking in the mirror isn’t always great but it’s not always terrible, either. Like everyone else, we have our good days and our not-so-good days.  Diane and Katie, Barbara and Al are all very smart and very good at what they do.  Their age and experience are a large part of the reason they’re so respected.  How about letting at least a little bit of it show?  After all, what’s more powerful than authenticity?
We women—and men—“of a certain age” grew up with TV and still have the TV habit. We’re the ones to whom TV wants to sell their relentlessly advertised arthritis-relievers and erection-enhancers.  Do the executives who hire on-air journalists think we forgot we knew their star anchors and reporters back in the day?
Doesn’t occur to them that in their twisted zeal for youthification they risk insulting the very audience they most want to woo? The grown-up audience that hasn’t—at least not yet—deserted them in droves for the internet?

OOOOOH! Want to read more? My new Romantic Comedy/Thriller, THE CHANEL CAPER, is #1 in Comedy and answers the question: Is there sex after marriage?  It does NOT tell you how to lose weight—that's an Amazon ad I can't nuke.
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  1. Major congrats on hitting #1 Ruth! How fantastic. It shows what a market there is out there for books about smart, sexy grown-up women.

    And what a fantastic point you make about TV not catering to its own demographic. They're still trying to court that "ideal" demographic of the 18-30 yr-old male--the one that was defined in the 1950s. They don't seem to have a clue they lost those guys to videogames and iPhones long ago.

    My 20-something nephews think broadcast TV is right up there with Depends on the coolness list. They'd rather watch a streaming rerun of Family Guy on Hulu than tonight's brand new episode on TV.

    So where are the grandmas on TV? You're so right that nobody is allowed to look "matronly" any more. Women have broken into the news business in recent decades, but somehow they only have "authority" if they look like bimbos. Can you imagine a TV news person who looked like Golda Meir? Or Mother Teresa? Sounds absurd. But it's the culture that's absurd.

  2. Thanks, Anne! I absolutely think grown-up women and men want to read about grown up women and men. After all, our generation was brought up with books and we've moved on to e-books. Our generation not only brought about change but isn't about to get left behind, either.

    Newswomen don't have to look like GM or MomT, either. Why can't they look like Lauren Hutton or Diane Keaton or any other woman who knows how to look her best—at whatever age she happens to be?

    Read Brian Stelter's Ann Curry/"Today" story in the NYT this week for an insight into tv & the guys who run it. It's a boys' club with a boy's mentality. Plus ça change...

  3. Amen Ruth! I am soooo burned out reading about 20 yr they are the only one's who have fun. Hello...everyone knows the 40 + crowd can have fun and truthfully have the intelligence that you just don't have at 20 yet.

    I was reading a review on Walking Dead one night. This 20 yr old man said ," I'm only 20 and I think Melissa McBride is there something wrong with me?'. For those who don't know, she is 48 , and has very short grayish hair ( go short haired gals!!). Absolutely gorgeous woman. Is something wrong with him? Yes..that he even asked that question. My 16 yr old daughter has a pic of Johnny Depp up in her room, just like I had a pic of Johnny Depp when I was 16. Much more distance with 16 and 50, then 20-48. No one bats a eye as Depp is the older one.....drives me crazy.

    I was raised around plastic surgery, its expected. 40 is the age of doom- which I will be in 5 months. I've been raised around face lifts, eye lifts, botox ,boob jobs and diet pills. Yet, I won't go there. 2 reasons. 1. Oh face it, Im terrified of being cut for other than life saving reasons. 2) I have two teenage girls. For me to botox it up is sending them a message that this is their future- their future will probably look like me in a lot of ways. So everytime I tell them how beautiful they are, and they don't need make up and push bras, Id be lying to them. Love yourself the way you are, yet Mom doesn't love how she is..sooo off to Dr. Fix it? Nope....

    With the female examples I have to fight daily , thank you Housewhores on Bravo, its difficult as it is. What favor am I doing if I make them feel like they have a small timespan to love themselves before they go under the knife? So bring on 40, bring on the crows feet and what have you, I just don't care. Maybe someday there will be a News woman who will say the same thing and change the perception of what gorgeous is 40+.....until then, I will continue to snicker evetytime Bab Walters says she had ," chickenpox" when I can pretty much guarantee she had shingles like folks 65+ can squire without vaccine. Its her deal, her and every other 10 yr old;)

    1. Typed on phone..ignore the typos...;)

    2. Lindsey—Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment. You're making an excellent point about what kind of message all this "youthification" is sending to younger women and girls. A message of discontent & dissatisfaction?

      Men mostly seem to think they're fine and dandy the way they are. Wouldn't be a bad example for women to emulate.

      "The quickest way to look 65 is to have a face lift." I wish I knew who said it—a hair stylist or some beauty guru IIRC—but I see it around me all the time.

      At least you can blame the phone for your typos. LOL I do a bang up job on my desktop with a real keyboard! Don't even notice the squiggly red line half the time!

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  5. Squiggly red line is just a suggestion....I like to think I am just adding pizzaz to a otherwise common word.
    Just bought your book..looking forword to it. I am hoping to get back into reviewing as I have taken a break, which I realize was a mistake as I miss it!

    Keep you posted!!