Small Pleasures
Living and Dying: A Love Story

Crabby Old Lady Watches the Academy Awards

Did you watch the Academy Award show last Sunday? Crabby Old Lady did. There wasn't much else on the tube then and it's the sort of program Crabby can watch here and there that doesn't much disturb the reading she's doing in between.

If you didn't watch, don't go getting all snobby about it. The Oscars are an American tradition – admittedly fading, probably with Crabby's generation – but still kind of fun to see the pretty ladies all dressed up in ways almost no one does anymore.

And having produced a lot of TV shows in her past, Crabby likes watching the production values on a program that's more lavish and complex, especially live, than most of what's on television.

This is an eye candy type of show. It doesn't take any special attention or thought – just let it wash over you. Or not.

It was heartening to Crabby from the start to see the diversity and inclusion of the landscape: Muslims, immigrants, a better mix of skin colors than usual and (drum roll) women, lots of women. Crabby thinks that might be something we can thank Harvey Weinstein for.

And then Sandra Bullock showed up as a presenter. Until that moment, it hadn't occurred to Crabby to think anything one way or another about old people's participation.

Bullock is 53 years old. She looked wonderful – gorgeous, in fact. So why did she think she had to say this?

“Wow, it’s bright,” she said. “It’s really bright. Guys, the set looks amazing, everything looks really great. The lighting is really well lit, but can we just dim it just a little bit so I can go back to my 40s? A little lower, 39, keep going, 38, 38, 38, no, 35, now that's the sweet spot!"

Did she think that was funny? It wasn't to Crabby Old Lady. It could have been if we lived in a different world, if old people were generally treated with the same respect as Ms. Bullock is at mid-age. But instead of inclusion, Bullock chose the opposite.

This disparagement of elders didn't stop with Bullock. In fact, it had started at the top of the show.

Host Jimmy Kimmel's digs at 88-year-old, best supporting actor nominee, Christopher Plummer, began with this gem directed at Plummer sitting in the first row: “How does Lin Manuel-Miranda compare to the real Alexander Hamilton?”

And Kimmel (age 50) didn't let up on age jokes directed at Plummer throughout the rest of the broadcast.

Crabby sat up at attention yet again when Jane Fonda (age 80) and Helen Mirren (age 72) took to the stage together. Mirren opened with, “Jane and I are very, very honored to have been asked to present together on Oscar’s 90th birthday.”

Okay, that's nice enough for an awards show but then Fonda responded, “Yeah, especially when we found out he’s older than we are. Right?”

No, Fonda, you're wrong. Crabby Old Lady thinks she looked lovely at the Oscars but ruined it the moment she opened her mouth.

Having spent several hours in the company of Hollywood actors on Sunday evening, Crabby could rant on about how plastic surgery plays a big part in perpetuating ageist behavior toward old people, but she will hold on to that thought for another day.

Even with all the age “jokes,” there were some magnificent bright spots involving old show biz folks. Start with Rita Moreno, age 86, who showed up wearing the same dress she wore – wait for it – 56 years ago, in 1962, when she won the Oscar for her role in West Side Story. Here's a little video of Moreno in that dress from the red carpet:

(That's Rita Moreno's daughter standing next to her.)

Ninety-three-year-old Eva Marie Saint was stunning in all ways as she presented an award - and she didn't make any ugly age jokes.

Agnes Varda, 89, was among nominees for best documentary feature, and James Ivory, also 89, became the oldest Oscar winner of all time for best adapted screenplay, Call Me By Your Name.

So Crabby response was mixed. She was pleasantly surprised at the diversity in general and specifically at the number of old people featured at the 90th Oscars. But she was terribly disappointed at the entrenched ageist beliefs that even some old people themselves won't let go of.

And don't go thinking this is a small thing. That it happens throughout the country in media and in everyday life thousands of times a day is what makes it so awful, these small insults aimed at old people - their looks, their behavior, their supposed slow-wittedness.

Every incidence of it perpetuates the indignities and makes it safe for others to join in. Crabby no longer believes this will change in her lifetime.


And despite all of that, I think it was one of the best Oscar awards show in recent memory. Everyone was civil, there were no rude interruptions, and everyone was dressed respectfully ( for the most part!)

I didn't watch, but Crabby's citation of the unfunny litany of microaggressive "jokes" against people over (what is it now?) about 45 really made me think. She's right--it's hostile and would be called out if it were aimed at any other group.
None of us ever say (but maybe we should), "You do realize that if you survive, all this will happen to you one day, too?" The jokesters don't believe it, of course, but we know better.

I had every finger crossed that Agnes Varda, 89, to my mind the best living filmmaker, would win for Visages Villages, her spectacularly good documentary. If you aren't acquainted with her, Time Goes By people, try to check out some of her films. Especially this latest one--I saw it weeks ago and continue to think about it. It also has a lot to do with age, but in an amazingly generous way, given that the two major figures, Varda [89] and the artist/photographer JR [30-some], do so well together. Age is an issue, but in a different sort of way, slightly joking, but less about ageing as such, more about the two of them with their disparate ages -- A sort of French take, gentle, loving, and full of a gentle sort of humor - in both directions.

I too flinched every time I heard a joke at the Acad. Awards about age/ageing. And agree with you, Ronni, that it will not die out in our lifetime. sigh.

I had the same reaction to Sandra Bullock's comments and even tweeted about it earlier this week. To me, she looked weak and pathetic. Another one who bothered me is Allison Janney. I'm sure she's great and all that, but in the weeks leading up to the Oscars, she was all over the place, pictured in these super tight, revealing outfits to show off her killer body, I guess. It would seem she is savvy enough to know being a good actor isn't enough.

I did watch the Oscars and I agree about the jarring quality of the ageist comments. I so wish people would stop apologizing for having lived long enough to be old! But I do have compassion for them particularly in an environment where how one looks is so commercially important. Being old is hard enough in regular daily life, and I think the task for me and many others is how to handle the question of relevance. Long ago I realized tv commercials were not aimed at me (except the ones for meds) and that began my understanding that to the world of work and careers, being old is the end and your usefulness is done. Of course that is not true, but you do have to find other ways to use your skills and talents, and that is sometimes challenging.
I can now see that there will be a point at which I will no longer be willing to undertake a learning curve for some new equipment, for example. I’m not there yet, at 75, but I can see the day coming. So maintaining relevance is something I think about, and I have found myself doing things like smiling at myself in the mirror so the little lines above my upper lip go away. I can therefore understand and ALMOST excuse comments like those made at the Oscars.

Totally with you Crabby! They'll all find out soon enough, and unfortunately it will likely not change their fearful minds and hearts. Really disappointed in Mirrin and Fonda, going to the laughs instead of demanding respect.

Yes, Moreno's dress was glorious. You, btw, don't sound very crabby. I had to go out, so I watched bits of it early in the day. :)

Am I the only one who was disgusted by the utter hypocricy of the adulation of assaulter Kobe Bryant? Why does he get a pass?

I usually watch the Oscars, but my step-daughter was having a baby, so I missed them this year.
This whole ageist thing has been perpetuated by Hollywood itself (along with, since WWII, the focus on youth by the advertising companies in their zeal to get lifetime consumers for the products they push. In other words, by media) So no surprise that most people involved in that industry see aging as their enemy. Think of being seen with all those wrinkles and sagging face/body by millions of people when once you had the firm everything seen by millions of viewers.
You may be right that you may not see change in your lifetime. On the other hand, we are an aging society and this may soften, if you will, the desire to push away that "nasty monster", age.
I think some jokes about aging are funny and one does have to be able to laugh at oneself. For example, I believe you posted an SNL skit about aging people interacting with Alexi (is that the name of the instrument created by Amazon?) Anyway, I thought it was hysterical and have watched it a few more times, each time getting a good laugh out of it.
I am sure Jane Fonda likes to laugh about aging but she has also promoted embracing aging. Possibly the venue is what made her joke seem to only cut more deeply into an already offensive attitude.
As always, enjoyed your perspective and write-up.

Gee, aren’t we crabby today? I watched most of the academy awards because this year in a rare occurrence, I actually have seen most of the nominated movies. I enjoyed the show. Unlike you, I was impressed by the number of older stars presenting and receiving awards. In years past they would have been hiding behind the curtains. I thought Sandra Bullock’s intro wwas weird until I realized 2 things: 1) the award she was about to present was in cinematography (she was demonstrating that lighting is important)and 2) she didn’t write her intro. Many of the intros were lame and the jokes fell flat, but I still enjoyed the show.
Most of the time I agree with you, Ronni, about being on the lookout for ageism, but in this context? Lighten up, for heavens sake, it’s Hollywood!

I guess I'm odd man out. I'm rarely offended by age jokes. Especially when they are self-deprecating. If we can't joke about ourselves, we're in pretty sad shape. I didn't watch the Oscars, but I'd have been more interested in what the women were wearing. But then that's probably inappropriately sexist. And any jokes about ethnicity would have been racist. Political jokes would have been partisan. Etc. I do get annoyed when ads use obviously young actors to portray much older people, or when I see older celebrities with too much plastic surgery. But these days ageist jokes are pretty low on my list of things to get upset about. (I'm 74.)

anyone who has the TV on during the day realizes older folks are the prime target for advertisers. i.e. burial insurance, stairlifts, bathtubs you can walk into, A Place for Mom ( my favorite) all kinds of medications to treat age related illnesses, nothing to cure you, just treat treat treat, of course the side effects may kill you. The drug companies now produce a condition that they can then prescribe a med for opiod induced constipation . remember the days when people knew enough to take a laxative? Oh Well, I am 80 and do not really pay too much attention to this crap, but it is unfortunate that there are no fun products, or advice to bring more joy to our older years, We are on our own, We are the same people we were, we just make small adjustments to what we can do or want to do. I am learning oil painting and I love/hate it, but it is good. Also, writing. I would like to roller skate, but that may be out of the question. Glad you are doing better. Marcia

Here's another odd man out who rarely gets offended with jokes about age and aging. Life is too short to worry about stereotypes in humor because there are stereotype jokes about every age and rite of passage we go through in life---marriage, divorce, giving birth, parenting, mid-life crisis's, menopause, caregiving, etc., etc.

I watched the awards as I usually do every year. (I like movies.) But I was particularly interested this year because on a political debate site where I go they were bashing the show ever before it was on, saying it was going to be pushing all kinds of liberal agendas that it didn't.

I think in general it's fine to make fun of ourselves. But agree ... old jokes are getting old.

No one has brought up how fabulous the stage decorations were for the Oscars!
I oohed and awed with every new color and set change. I usually am half watching and doing something else, but the set changes were so fab that I was glued to just enjoying the visual beauty. The best ever for visual effects!!!

10/10 Marcia Hill.

Television, billboard, radio ads I'd like to see:

Ronni's Place (NYC) story telling, senior comedians, delicious finger food, smoke meat, poutine flown in from Montreal.
Pool tables
Pinball machines
Free senior public buses driven by celebrities such as Dolly Parton
Clothes that actually fit and look good
Cowboy hats - nobody messes with Cowboys (Blazing Saddles)
Big watches
Big tablets
Big phones
Walking canes with special effects- Star Wars laser beams "Out of my way, sonny. I'm walkin' here."
Co -op apartments with stores below
Bodyguards- male or female, trained in the art of "make my day."
Line dancing, hip hop classes
Language lessons
Travel spots
Music lessons - ukulele, piano..

I no longer have TV having given it up a long time ago, so I can't comment on the show.

However, I did watch the newspaper slide show of some of the gowns worn. I loved most of them because they were classic and were not trying to see how close to nudity they could go. It was refreshing to see formals that were actually pretty.

Ah, yes, aging. Dress it up or dress it down, it is what it is.

Yes, I also, uncharacteristically, watched most of the Oscar presentations this year. They seemed to be quiet and mostly pleasant. The sets were original and I wondered about the magic that went into their quick changes.

Aging jokes? First, I would rather joke about my age than cry about it. And fully realize, also, that many people joke about subjects they fear.

Still, the number of winners (and presenters) who were of our generation was significant and I was pleased to see them.

Oh, I hope this is (to coin a phrase) the dawning of a new age.

All my life I have been a huge lover of the movies. I may not remember many things now but just ask me about who played what part in what movie.

The only movies I see now are either on Netflix or here at Brooksby. The other day I saw "The Gods Must Be Crazy" - Made in 1980! Fun movie.

For years I have always looked forward to the Oscars. This time I put it on and after less than an hour turned it off. Didn't know most of the presenters, was somewhat familiar with the movies and actors.

I was bored and called it a night early on. Everything changes and the movies do too!

As one of the old, I claim the right to make jokes about my predicaments, I mean, it's like all groups of people making jokes about their own race, religion, gender, etc. But no one outside the club should be doing it, and it sounds like that happened during the presentation.

I watched most of the show...really got a kick out of Frances McDormand...she is 60 years old, and she looks it....but is still beautiful in my opinion....she did not wear any makeup nor go to any effort with her hair, and her gown was very modest. But her acceptance speech showed her to be articulate and a forward thinking feminist.

When I googled her I discovered that she has a long marriage and years ago they adopted a baby boy from Paraguay.

Sorry that I missed seeing Bullock, and also Eva Marie Saint but I did read the article about her in the Sunday LA Times which was excellent.

My husband and I still enjoy seeing new releases - I do not like the shoot-em-up action movies (sigh) but we do take turns choosing films we want to see.

Coco, the firm and the song, both won Oscars, and were wonderful; reminded me of my loved ones who have gone to the great beyond.

Well . . . I'm going to be wildly tangential and recall the Oscars of 2014, when Ellen DeGeneres hosted. In her monologue, in the section where various nominated actors are called out for inividual attention, Ellen included June Squibb, 84 at the time, nominated for her work in the film Nebraska. DeGeneres praised Squibb's performance, which got applause, and then she leaned way over in Squibb's direction, put her hand to her mouth, and said, loudly, "I'm telling everybody how wonderful you were in Nebraska. Wonderful!" in an exaggeratedly condescending way. It was, in fact, very funny, because in that case DeGeneres was sending up ageism.

thanks Doctafhil all great suggestions marcia

I watched as I usually do but without much enthusiasm. I live in Florida where a few weeks ago we had a terrible shooting that took 17 innocent lives. Teachers are not getting awards for shielding their students or locking them in their classroom closets to keep them away from the shooter. I have Grandchildren in public schools here so the images of these kids has stayed with me.After having had cancer last year and being in treatment all year, I have met true heroes....true achievers who do truly amazing things every day like my doctors, surgeons and nurses. Not to mention the strong patients and their loving caretakers who work so diligently every day. I never see any of them get awards nor care about accolades for what they do. I watched The Oscars because my beloved mother brought us up watching great movies and she loved seeing those beautiful people getting their awards. It was a simpler time and in my mind I recall my mom sitting on a Sunday night after she had worked all week, finally sitting down to watch Elizabeth Taylor or Montgomery Cliff....June Allyson and Gregory Peck with a huge smile on her face as if she knew them personally. The movies were our Saturday treat when it was special to go downtown to the theater. I can’t properly explain how I feel now but these actors all clamoring for this kind of attention just seems superficial to me. Yes there were good movies and great actors but I just feel these award shows to me anyway, are going the way of the beauty pageant....which by the way was also One of mom’s other favorite thing to watch.

O.K, yes, I get it. "Crabby Old Lady" But, Please, where did everyone's sense of humor disappear to? I'm trying to feel insulted by the "ageist" comments at the Oscar's but really it was funny and Mr. Plummer (as an Englishman) has the humor and the wherewithal to give as good as he gets.

Crabby Old Lady, be careful, if this carries on there will be no humor, no laughter, no repartee, no fun in the world anymore. It's that fine line again!


Speaking of stars...
one of the greatest of all time is back in the news after nearly 80 years. Olivia de Havilland - 101 and a star in Gone with the Wind. And is she mad. She's suing somebody for misrepresenting her. And I'll bet she wins too. She's still a cute little dumpling.

Dear Ronni, I'll be 82 on April 1, and I've accepted the fact that many things that denigrate others will not be changed in my lifetime. but I take hope because others things have changed and we are in the midst of change right now with regard to sexual harassment and women's wages. I do truly believe that life will be better for the young children I know when it comes to others accepting differences and learning from them. Peace.

No, I didn't watch the Oscars. Gave up commercial telly some years ago. Just tired of paying for 100 channels of uninspiring viewing. I get most of what I want online. I did see most of the nominated films, was glad to see "The Shape of Water" scoring. I checked the photos of what everyone wore. Don't think of myself as a prude but I was kind of glad to see everyone wasn't trying to come naked for a change. I think though sometimes we have to joke about our age just to get through some of it. It's easier if I laugh with my fellow age-ees. Everyone else can keep it to themselves.

Frances McDormand being herself. It was so refreshing!

I think the field is over-saturated with award shows. I make no effort to view them all, but think they have diluted the impact any one may have, including the Oscars. I did see the program this year and thought the line Fonda had was disappointingly weak, whether written for her or ad lib — those two could have been classy and sharp but played to lower denominator to make the point of Oscar’s age, I guess.

I can see the humor in some language directed toward aging and many other groups I.e. ethnicity, body size, abilities, mental status, etc. — but many such references can be hurtful plus perpetuating such points of view. Where do we draw the line between what is accepted as innocent laugh-deserving fun and when the words become discriminatively offensive? What offends each of us may vary to some extent — perhaps at least partially reflective of our own sensitivities.

I think disparaging language, constantly repeated everywhere, which seems to indicate a foregone conclusion — for example, all older people can’t see or hear well, are confused, have poor memories, etc., etc., do perpetuate pre-conceived notions many people share that stereotypes all older folks as all being the same. Also, rhe words used are likely quick “cheap jokes” for writers, cartoonists to devise. Additionally, often legitimate aging research results gets applied to all older people with little attention paid to the fact the totals actually applied to only a percentage of them.

Erroneous ideas about people being old can become especially problematic because aged people are all too often so little valued, unlike most other age groups. So, the language used does perpetuate the worst assumptions and stereotypes that many people actually come to believe. I think the attitudes of many have not kept up with the reality of aging. I wonder if the disparaging language used describes old age of earlier generations — fewer ancestors lived as long as many of us do now; physical and sensory function may have been more impaired at an earlier age, etc.

It’s past time for a new more realistic view of older people to be formulated and expressed in the language everyone uses verbally and in print.

I did not care for Jimmy Kimmel's jokes about Christopher Plummer's age. Ageist. Sandra Bullock, tho, was kind of funny because I thought the humor was directed at vanity. Jane Fonda. Puhleeze. Plastic surgery up the wazoo. Her face is basically frozen.

I enjoy the Oscars. I try to watch all of the best picture nominees before the telecast. I did not make it this year. I still have 3 to go!

They’re just expressing the Hollywood culture they live in. Even worse than in the general culture. I suppose the same holds true anywhere in media with on-air or on camera talent. I do love Rita Moreno. And it’s good to seeJane Fonda poking fun at ageism on Grace and Frankie.

I don't think plastic surgery fools anybody. Mostly, it trades in individuality for a poor simulacrum of youthiness. You can't tell who Faye Dunaway or Sharon Stone IS, anymore. They look faux young on camera, but in real life they would just look sort of stale and blank.

It reminds me of the time I went on a camping trip with some socialites (as a writing assignment). At one point we all got naked, and they ALL had either breast augmentation or breast reduction scars. Their bodies were remade to look good in clothes.

I think the reasons tucked-up Hollywood stars still get fancy guys is because 1) they look good on his arm in paparazzo photographs, which feeds his ego; 2) they're wealthy and/or famous, and it isn't only women who are gold diggers or like to bask in the reflected spotlight; 3) most humanly, celebrities probably best understand and are understood by other celebrities; they've romped on the same Olympus and had to go through the same sh*t.

It's all very boring.

And as for ageism: the next person who smarmily calls me "YOUNG lady" is going to get punched in the mouth. Harder to be mad at are the kind souls who see my gray hair and solicitously offer me their seat on the subway. Their mothers raised them well. They really mean well. But can't they read body language? In reality, I still train in karate (will be 72 next month) and could kick their butt. They don't notice my ease in standing up. Only gray hair. Gray hair is a trigger, a shutter. Their eyes snap shut. And if they don't see something obvious and external, what to say about what is within.

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