Opinion: Pop culture: A better way to sell the perks of aging to young people

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We need promotional campaigns to make aging seem more appealing to young people, writes Ideas columnist Kevin Lewis, so that they strive to live longer and stop binge drinking to block out the unavoidable: Everyone gets old. Aging is not so bad, he says: ‘It’s not like old people actually reported being less happy.’

For ‘The Golden Girls’ maybe. But not for Mickey Rooney, right, who just last week testified before the Senate Committee on Aging about falling victim to elder abuse. Or for the victims of ‘gray homicides’ -- that is, those in the 60-plus demo whose murders are made to look like they killed themselves because there aren’t enough resources to autopsy suicides among those who’re considered past their prime. And not for those who’re perceived as ‘greedy geezers’ sucking the country’s entitlement funds, when in truth, they really need that money. And not for those who develop dementia, which, despite some recent rare good news, is not actually good news.


While Lewis presents a lovely idea -- ‘promotional campaigns to counter the ‘live hard, die young’ mentality’ -- what we really need is another show like ‘The Golden Girls.’ And with hipster culture currently having a senior moment, now’s the perfect time. If a program such as ‘Entourage’ can convince kids entering the workforce that it’s cool to have an abusive boss, and if ‘Dallas’ could help inspire democracy in the last days of socialist Romania, then certainly a popular program about aging would be a boon.

With any luck, that’s what we’ll find with the show Rodney Rotham is developing for NBC, based on his memoir ‘Early Bird,’ in which he told the story of his premature retirement (at 28!) and the kind-hearted and spirited relationships he developed at a Florida retirement community.

--Alexandra Le Tellier

Top photo: The stars of the television series ‘The Golden Girls’ during a break in taping in 1985. Bottom photo: Actor and elder-abuse victim/advocate Mickey Rooney gives emotional testimony before a Senate Special Committee on Aging on March 2. Credit: Rod Lamkey / AFP / Getty Images