Guest Blogger Lorie Sheffer: Art imitating life

Gary Sheffer (photo: Lorie Sheffer)
Gary Sheffer (photo: Lorie Sheffer)


My husband’s birthday fell on a rainy Friday. We thought it would be fun to catch a matinee of ‘Last Vegas’, which is a tame, older men version of ‘The Hangover’.  While it certainly won’t be in the running come awards season, it was funny and it was perfect for a man out celebrating his 62nd. I did, however, find something about the movie rather striking.

Morgan Freeman, Robert DeNiro, Michael Douglas and Kevin Kline rang in age from 76 to 66 years old. Freeman, DeNiro and Kline are all seen looking pretty much the way men of their age would really look; a bit of a belly, glasses on some, and a hearing aid worn by Kline. All have gray or salt and pepper hair. The exception was Douglas’s character, with his super whitened teeth, orange fake tan and hair that was a running joke throughout the movie. His upcoming marriage to a 32-year-old woman was the basis for the plot line. The three men who looked their age made jokes about his trying to stay young.

And then there were the women, played by the lovely Mary Steenburgen, who is 60, and Joanna Gleason, who is 63. These women are very thin and in incredible shape. Both have long, beautiful chocolate brown hair.

I wondered. Why was the male character, who dyed his hair and dressed in something other than dad jeans, crazy plaid jackets or a British driving cap, made into the joke? Why was it seen as “sexy” for the women and “desperate” for the man? Why wasn’t the lady the men were going gaga over being played by, say, Kathy Bates? What about the stunning Dame Judi Dench? Or Bette Midler? Beautiful women, those three ladies, and in the right age range as well.

When we came home, we sat by the fire and watched a movie on TV. Which just happened to star the pudgy, weathered Jack Nicholson. Opposite him, the stunning and very thin Diane Keaton, who seems to get more beautiful with each passing year.

How wonderful that there are good movies starring incredibly talented older actors. But maybe we still have a long way to go. Maybe when the ladies with silver in their hair and a few extra ounces on their hips are the ones who are receiving the appreciative glances from the male characters, maybe then we can say we’ve reached a level of equality between men and woman.

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By jeff noel

Retired Disney Institute Keynote Speaker and Prolific Blogger. Five daily, differently-themed personal blogs (about life's 5 big choices) on five interconnected sites.