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“Too old for pop”. I could say that about everything in life. Substitute “pop” for any other noun in the dictionary, and no one would care. We live in a society that echoes the idea that people lose their liberty to do whatever they want as they grow older, especially women. But do we really want to perpetuate this idea?
After a certain age, women cannot wear bikinis - they’re too old for that (no matter how good they look, they HAVE to cover up their bodies). After a certain age, women should cut their hair short - they’re too old for long hair. After a certain age, women have to stop wanting to go out and have fun - they’re too old for that. Women are encouraged to quit their jobs and stay home taking care of their houses, partners and kids. The ones that don’t do that are the freaks.
And no one is freakier than Madonna. According to what the media tells us, she is too old for everything she does: she’s too old for the outfits she wears on stage, she’s too old to show her body (even though she is in better shape than most 20-year olds), she’s too old to date younger men, the list goes on and on.
The limitations we try to impose onto others based on their age and gender go beyond concrete terms (body, clothes, hair). We try to limit people’s abilities to THINK a certain way too: Madonna is too old for pop music (a music genre), she’s too old to be singing songs about having fun (should she be singing about retirement?), she’s too old to call herself a girl.
Since when pop music, having fun, and calling yourself a “girl” have an age limit? I would think that logic would be important in this matter:
The older you get, the more experiences you have, and the more you know, the more respected you should be for singing, talking, and writing about your life experiences in general - from the trivial, to the important things in life. But no, instead of recognizing and accepting this notion, we try to impose the opposite: the older you get, the less you are allowed to talk about life. So what about being too young for certain topics?
If a woman in her 50s is not allowed to call herself a “girl”, or sing about wanting to “have some fun”, or do anything remotely trivial, drama-free and silly because of her age, why do we take a teenager or even a 20-something-year old seriously when they sing about serious stuff, things that only an experienced person should be singing about?
Sometimes, people are TOO YOUNG FOR CERTAIN TOPICS. We condemn women with experience for singing about life in general. But we praise people in their early 20s and teens (people who have no experience in life at all) for singing about “serious” subjects. And worse, we take them seriously.
Isn’t it ridiculous when a teenager sings about real love? What do teenagers know about real love? They should be singing about homework and having a crush on someone - those are things that belong to that universe - not real love. Lady Gaga singing about immigration? What is her experience with it again? Oh, none! But it’s okay. She gets a free pass because she’s in her 20s - those “young” people can sing about anything, from the frivolous “getting drunk and just dancing”, to the serious stuff - even when they are too young to really understand the issue they are talking about.
According to the same “age restrictions” the media uses against older women in the arts, Lady Gaga (among other “young” stars) should be dedicating their songs to the things that belong to her universe: clubbing, getting drunk, dancing. Gaga often does it. But she also tries to embrace “serious causes” that are completely out of her league:
Gay issues, equality, immigration - she has no life experience to talk about it in the tone she does. She can embrace the cause and sing about it, but the tone she uses is rather misleading. She recently said: “We are in a different place right now. 25 years ago, gay people had to hide”. Exactly! She is 26 years old. She has no clue about what life was really like for gay people 25 years ago.
We are glad that she wants to help the gay cause. But why not make it clear that her first person discourse is actually a role-play? Her age and her own speech on how “we are in a different place right now” are the evidence of how little experience she really has had with the issues she claims as her own. Instead of being a transparent supporter of the cause, she plays the role of someone who suffered as much as the people 25 years ago. But the media would never ever suggest she is too young for knowing what it was like 25 years ago with so much property. Even when her own speech makes her whole act contradictory.
Men do too suffer from ageism. But it is nowhere near what women have to go through. Mick Jagger still wears hot pants, and dances like when he was a sex symbol in his 20s. No one says he’s too old for that. Bruce Springsteen still wears tight jeans. No one says he’s too old for that. Prince still wears the same campy outfits. No one says he is too old for that either. John Bon Jovi still sings shirtless on stage. No one says he is too old for that. In fact, people like it that he is still the same as he was in the 80s.
The problem is not solely the media spreading these retrograde views and rules. The real problem is us, the people who echo those ideas in our daily lives:
Now, for whatever reason, little monsters say Madonna is “too old for what she does”. But hey, Gaga will be 30 in four years. By then, she will be too old to wear her Halloween costumes on a daily basis.
That’s the danger in spreading and sharing ignorance with the world - it always comes back to bite you in the derrière. Continuing with these retrograde ideas now will only affect the perception we will have of your faves in the near future. After all, we will not have a complete cultural awakening in only four years.