The Big Issue : Edition 574
THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU 2–15 NOV 2018 13 LAST WEEK I DJ’d a “seniors disco” and, although the gig was triumphant, there’s no way of spinning it that sounds cool. A DJ friend of mine just finished supporting Cher on tour, which was essentially the same gig and demographic, but there’s no question which event looks sexier on a CV. An interesting point to ponder is that the City of Port Phillip Mirror Ball Disco, produced as part of their Seniors Festival, was aimed at people 55 and over. Cher is 72. Obviously Cher, having managed to transcend her age through iron-willed fabulousness and a possible pact with the devil, has better branding than the Port Phillip Seniors Festival. But then all it would take to make Cher sound old is calling her show the Port Phillip Seniors Cher concert. That’s right. The word “seniors” negates the cool of Cher. Which explains why no-one wants to be called a senior. Certainly not at 55. Rack off well-meaning council. Even my mum, at 91, used to complain about the “old people’” in the nursing home, and refused to eat with them in the main dining room. It’s the central conundrum of our times. Ageing is considered optional, disturbing and bad luck. We shy away from the aged, averting our gaze as though it’s a curse. Everyone wants to live longer, but nobody wants to get old. The power of logic dictates that this doesn’t work, not least because the best- case scenario about ageing is it’s inevitable. Also, lily-white Australians like yours truly are set up to fail, what with the winning combination of pale skin and harsh climate. It’s easier to stay youthful forever, probably, in Iceland, where there’s no sun and you’re pickled at birth in vats of Reyka Vodka. But in Iceland – which seems to be a very cool country (not least because their capital city, Reykjavik, elected an ex-punk rocker and comedian as mayor) – they probably respect the aged. Icelanders don’t feel the need to rush out for a weekly chemical peel and Botox » Fiona Scott-Norman (@FScottNorman) is a writer and comedian who’s all bound for Mu Mu Land. FIONA To Be Cher, To Be Cher “Cher, having transcended her age through...a possible pact with the devil, has better branding than the Port Phillip Seniors Festival.” enema. Too busy driving monster trucks and swimming naked in the hot springs. But then who wants to be branded a “senior”, when all it comes with is a super- sized side of ageism? The most recent series of Talkin’ ’Bout Your Generation, starring ageing hottie Shaun Micallef, quietly killed off the Baby Boomers as a generation. Seeya, losers. The three gens represented now are X, YandZ. My once favourite TV show, the weekly current affairs comedy Have You Been Paying Attention?, is a snake pit of age shaming. Regular guest Denise Scott is roasted for being confused, infirm and having dementia and osteoporosis. She’s 63. Not even eligible for the pension. Not to mention one of Australia’s sharpest comics at the top of her game. The host, Tom Gleisner, cops the ribbing as well. He’s 56. His main crime is being bald, so far as I can tell, because Micallef is 56 and pretty much Australia’s George Clooney. Jane Kennedy (54) and Amanda Keller (56) must sit there in a rictus of fear every time they appear, wondering when the tide will turn and it’s their turn to be accused of incontinence or being grotesque. Of course, they still scrub up well. It’s looking your age that draws the venom. There are, currently, no positive connotations to being past 50 unless you’re a bottle of Grange, yet we’re all fitter and healthier than ever. Being in your fifties is not equivalent to being in your eighties. It’s dangerous and degrading to imply that it is, and not helpful to wipe out vast swathes of the populace on the basis of a bit of skin damage. It would help if we had terms for ageing that were cool. I quite like “old broad”. Or “been around the block”. Or maybe “KLF”. Because of their song ‘Justified and Ancient’.