Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Ageism On the Election Trail

It's amazing to me how much ageism is being used in the Democratic campaigns this year. Maybe I'm particularly sensitive to it because there is a woman running who, for the first time, may have a real chance at winning, even though she's being written off by the media as unhip and she's all of 60, not even a senior citizen yet--not to mention hipness has little to do with being young or old but a state of mind. When I turned on the news earlier today, I clearly picked up on the nuance, that younger people are voting for one candidate and that older ones are supporting the other, and that these young and old voters were typified with the help of Hollywood celebs endorsing each: Scarlett Johansson for Barack Obama contrasted with Barbara Streisand for Hillary Clinton. In context, this is not a form of flattery for one of the greatest singers of our time (Barbara has made me cry singing in Yentl). I don't know about you, but it seems offensive to use celebrities to make the point that one candidate is clearly hipper and younger than the other with. It's not too different than, say, marketing a perfume as being a young fragrance, just to help its sales among the young, regardless of personal taste, and using a young celeb to sell it with. No one's even mentioning Madonna as being a Clinton supporter, but I suppose bringing her up wouldn't help make Clinton less hip in the eyes of voters, since Madonna is perceived as forever young and hip. I don't usually involve myself in politics, but I can't help but notice all of the hurtful ways that misogyny divides us--and surely, Obama Girl (the actress who lipsynched the song "I Got a Crush...On Obama" written and sang by Leah Kauffman) didn't hurt anyone, right? When will this ageist, sexist trend change, I wonder?