thinking big: feminism, media, and pop culture

Posts Tagged ‘aging’

Connie Britton’s Not a Late Bloomer–She’s Just In Bloom

In celebrity gossip on February 14, 2013 at 9:19 am

Sarah T.

I learned several important facts about Connie Britton in her new Times profile. First, she has a 2-year-old son named Eyob who she adopted from Ethiopia. Second, her hair is as beautiful in real life as it is on TV. (Sigh.) I also learned that Britton is over 40—she’s 45, as a matter of fact. There was no way for me to miss this last fact, because the article could not stop talking about her age.

What’s interesting about the article’s age obsession is that it isn’t actually ageist. Writer Susan Dominus sets out to talk about how popular culture portrays women who are 40-plus, and how Britton is fighting back against those tropes. She writes that as Britton read early reviews of her new show Nashville,

She was particularly concerned about the way her character was being positioned — Connie Britton, playing an “aging country-music star,” a phrase she started seeing in countless blog posts and articles about the show

“I was like, the minute I’ve been referenced in writing as aging, I’m done,” she said. “I was furious about that.” She was also concerned about the plot, which early on had Jaymes on a downhill slide, losing ground to a young, blond crossover star played by Hayden Panettiere. That Britton of all people would be asked to play a character whose life seemed to fall apart at 40 struck her as almost perverse. “That’s not even who I represent as an actor,” she said, sitting back in her seat. “My life started being awesome five years ago.”

This is great stuff, right? Britton is not going to play your pesky little game, sexist culture that scares women into feeling old and unattractive and washed-up just because they get older, like all living things on this planet! (Seriously, the only alternative to getting older is being dead. These are our choices. Which is the cooler option, hmm, so hard to decide.) Anyway, Britton is having none of this ridiculousness. She’s hot and she knows it. She’s got a rocking career, a dedicated fan base, and–as the article takes care to point out–she’s not exactly hurting in the dating department.

And yet, Dominus winds up recreating some of the sexist tropes Britton is battling against in her own article. There’s the way she frames the star’s story in the first place: Britton as the late bloomer, the hard-working actress who lost out on a juicy role in Jerry Maguire and finally rose to fame almost 15 years later. “Connie Britton got over it a long time ago, the part that got away,” the profile begins. Read the rest of this entry »

Fearing The Future

In Film on February 4, 2013 at 5:48 am

Sarah T.

Hello?

One neat way to cope with fears of aging and mortality is to freak out preemptively. I started panicking about turning 30 when I turned 28. It was already clear that I wasn’t going to be the kind of 30-year-old I’d once imagined. I definitely wasn’t going to have a book deal. I hadn’t even written a book. Theoretically it was possible that I would meet a wonderful guy, fall in love, and establish a stable yet adventure-loving relationship in the span of two years, but I had no reason to count on it. I wouldn’t live in a shabby chic apartment near Prospect Park with a typewriter and a shaggy dog and bouquets of daffodils at the kitchen table, because first of all I couldn’t afford it and second of all I was living in Oregon. My life at 30 would be less bohemian-bright, more Annie from Bridesmaids. And even Annie had once had her own bakery, even if it went under. Really she was miles ahead.

It wasn’t the actual age of 30 that bothered me. I don’t think 30 is old; I think our culture wants very much to persuade us that it is, so that we will feel bad about ourselves until we conform to a conservative model of adulthood that ensures we behave like good obedient capitalists, keep quiet, and buy more stuff. Still, I’d had certain hopes about where my life would be when I left my twenties behind. They were not going to come true. At least, not in time.

All of which is to say that I could relate to Miranda July’s The Future, in which the prospect of official, real-deal adulthood sends the movie’s central couple spinning. Sophie (July) and Jason (Hamish Linklater) are two gentle hipsters in their mid-30s with matching mops of dark brown curls. When we first see them, they’re working on their Macbooks at opposite ends of the corduroy couch, legs tangled up with one another. They’ve been together a long time. Sophie teaches dance to tiny girls in tutus. Jason has a nondescript customer support job with Verizon. As they prepare to adopt an ailing cat named Paw Paw, the veterinarian tells them that if they take good care of the cat, he might last another half-decade.

This strikes them as a kind of responsible-person jail sentence.

“We’ll be 40 in five years,” Sophie tells Jason.

“40 is basically 50,” Jason says. “And then after 50, the rest is just loose change… Not quite enough to get anything you really want.”

Together, they decide to seize the month before Paw Paw comes to live with them—turn off the Internet, quit their jobs, and start exploring. They believe it’s their last shot at making the lives they want for themselves, as opposed to the ones they’ve drifted into. The problem is, neither of them knows exactly what they’re aiming for. Read the rest of this entry »