Proof (Ageism)

Yesterday, July 8th, on one of Chicago’s premier TV stations, NBC, three of Channel 5’s morning anchors engaged in an on-air verbal volley on the how ugly a shirtless picture of the octogenarian, Betty White would be. She was actually referred to as eliciting a vision of the “California Raisin”. It isn’t about Betty, she is a celebrity and paid handsomely for whatever is lobbed at her. What surprised me and I guess disappointed me, was the insensitivity of the anchors to the fact that many of their elderly viewers might be offended and rightly so. They were sharing an inside joke and invited everyone in, not taking into account that some of their greatest supporters are experiencing the aging process. I don’t know if they all could have participated if the joke was about Latinos or Blacks but in a sense, it was about everyone of every race and creed and gender who has reached a “certain age”. Interestingly, the only on-air personality that tried to steer the conversation was the young traffic reporter. Kudos to him and his parents who obviously taught him that humans deserve respect at every age. I would love to use this as an opportunity to have the conversation. I challenge the station to explore the question. Is ageism the last frontier of prejudice in this country? What do you think?

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