After my recent stumping for the sisterhood, this is going to sound like a reversalist smackdown, but a story in this Sunday's LA Times (I know, I know, but I like the ritual of fresh comics in bed) set me off. Big time. And I tried to ignore it, really, I did, but here I am, a day later, still cheesed off.
It was more than a story: the Times devoted their entire Sunday magazine to the issue of aging and its attendant hoo-hah in modern society, how we try to stop it, how we try to look like we're stopping it, how we succeed (or fail) at both. Not a lot of insight or exploration into why we chase the dragon, but hey, this is L.A., it's the Times, and that's probably a given, right? Because it's better to be young, dumbass!
Is it really, though? Maybe for hot chicks, briefly, anyway. After that, it's my understanding that things get a hell of a lot worse, and faster, and geometrically so. Farther to fall and frequently, less to fall back on. And I understand about the age bias permeating all aspects of Hollywood culture: there are male TV director friends of mine and hotshot screenwriter friends of mine that lie about their age as much as women.
But it is worse for women, by an order of magnitude; it must be, for all women lie about their age, everywhere. I did it myself for several years while trying to get into bars, albeit the other way around. I routinely do it commercially, by passing for a full decade younger than I am chronologically: as long as they want to hire me to play a 35-year-old mom, (neither of which I am, by the way) I'll play one on TV.
Here's the thing, though: I never actually lie. Two examples. First, when some bonehead in the casting room asks me if I have kids, because you know, as an actor, it is necessary to actually have the condition to play like you do, I say "no." Not "no, but I loooooove them!" Not "no, but my boyfriend does and I looooove them!" Just "no". I mean, you're hiring me to play a mom for thirty seconds; do you really think I'm such a fucking idiot that, during a big, important take, I'll forget how to pass a kid a bowl of Cheerios or something?
Second, in actor-land, there's a little checkbox on the sign-in sheet that says "40+". I check it, and have been for almost five years now. Yes, yes, I wavered in the beginning. After all, I didn't look 40; why should I check 40?
I knew why, which is why I didn't want to check it at first: because it's a lie. Which is exactly why I do check it now. Because if lie, I buy into everything that goes into that lie: that aging is a liability instead of a point of fact; that women have a shelf life with accompanying expiration date; and that a woman becomes somehow less-than instead of greater-than with time.
Which brings me back to why I'm so cheesed off. Now, despite what those commercial auditioners might think, I'm really not an asshole. I have some understanding of the world we live in and the necessity of learning to get along in it. I understand that sometimes, sharing certain truths, like your age or your sexual orientation or your political affiliation, if you're liberal and trying to live in Indiana, might be unadvisable. Sadly, the truth is still an unaffordable luxury for many people in this great country of ourn.
But for the love of all that's holy, when you are trying to pass, do it quietly, and for your own reasons, don't scream it from the rooftops, and definitely don't do it in the context of a magazine story about aging. Irony aside, it's just fucking rude. Insulting, even. And stupid, let's not forget stupid. Do you really think all those kids you were in the third and fourth and fifth grade with are dead now? Or that it's that hard to locate a copy of your birth certificate online?
Bottom line: if you want to stay in the closet, fine. It's your business, frankly. Me, I think the air and light is much finer on the outside, but I don't know how comfortably your closet is furnished or how inclement the weather where your closet is located.
And really, what are you doing save staving off the inevitable? Isn't it better to plant the flag in the ground now and have people say, No! How old? Damn, you look good, girl!
For the record, you do look good, girl, and not for manmade reasons. You've got it going on, and in more ways than one. There's one way, though, that I've got you beat: I'm almost 45, and you're not. You're afraid to say it and I'm not. Well, sometimes I am, but I do, anyway. For the greater good, but mostly, for my own sanity. Let's face it: I have no audience; I could 'out' you right now and only 75 people would know. And most of them wouldn't care. Your secret stays safe regardless of whether I choose to spill it.
But that's exactly why you should spill it yourself, because you doing it would make the difference. It's kind of like during the SAG commercial strike: no one cared if the rank & file turned down the shit jobs; it's when the high-profile members of the community stood up and told the producers where they could stick it that things turned around. You can use your powers for good, or you can use them to serve The Man.
Here: we'll even go first. In the comments. Come on, everyone, I'll go first:
Forty-five. 45. XLV!!!
Who's with me?