During a television newscast yesterday morning, Crabby Old Lady saw a commercial for the Jitterbug phone – you know, the one with big, easy-to-use numbers that actually makes calls without all the texting, photographing, web surfing and mowing the lawn??
Good idea, the Jitterbug, for elders or anyone who wants just a telephone without all the electronic doodads. But Crabby wasn’t much pleased with the commercial which showed several 40-to-50ish adults talking about buying the phone for a parent.
Crabby detected a distinct whiff of condescension from the actors in the commercial, as though the parents of these mid-aged people either wouldn't get the message from the ad on their own or wouldn’t have the wit to buy one of the phones for themselves. “Grrrr,” said Crabby to herself as she switched off the TV and forgot about it a minute later.
Then last evening – the same day - the actor Hector Elizondo turned up in a “CBS Cares” public service announcement saying something close to:
“HIV is a growing problem in retirement communities. I’ll bet you never thought you’d need to talk to your parents about safe sex.”
Hey, CBS - it's not cute and it's not funny that switcheroo on parents' birds-and-bees conversation. You may speak to Crabby Old Lady directly, if you please, about her sexual habits. And she will be able to understand - she's been doing it since before you were born and she pretty well has a handle on the procedure now, including STDs.
When did the media begin talking to elders through their adult children, as though Crabby and other old people are too senile to buy either a phone or condoms on their own? Crabby never noticed this particular twist on ageist behavior before. Is it a new media trend, this infantilizing of elders? If so, Crabby wants it to stop it right now before it goes even one step further…
[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Lynda Jordan lets us in on the story of a lifelong Secret Love she has never forgotten.]