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Posted at 10:25 AM ET, 07/26/2006

Old People Movies: Why Not?

By Hal Straus

Careful readers of Celebritology may have noticed that its author can be less than completely charitable, at least when it comes to aspiring poets, singers and, frankly, most of you. But even though I sat next to Liz at work for a year, I had no idea how deeply sadistic she was until she insisted that I sub for her today.

Liz, you see, knows that I have about as much insight into the world of celebrity as Ralph Nader -- who reminds us in his breezy, non-pedantic way that medical breakthroughs matter more than Madonna. Sure, I read the headlines in the checkout line. But I don't open the magazines. I'm aware that Michael Jackson has developed some irritating habits, but honestly couldn't tell you which country has most recently accepted his visa application.

Fine, I thought when I accepted Liz's challenge, all I have to do is flack Gene Weingarten's guest post -- he's paid to be funny -- and if that's not enough, beg my 15-year-old daughter for help.

"Write about who's the biggest loser out of all the people who were kicked off ‘Laguna Beach'," she suggested, after I casually mentioned how much companies charge for car insurance these days. "What a great idea," I thought, proudly. Only one problem: To write a “Laguna Beach” item, I'd have to find a “Laguna Beach” episode and actually watch it.

Then it hit me -- a trend. No, not something obvious like the shortage of West Hollywood houses that have been visited by fewer than two Home Makeover crews in the past six months. Not Kevin Federline's bid to be this millennium’s Yoko Ono. Something really big, a genuine cultural development. I'd gone to see "The Devil Wears Prada" and, my god, Meryl Streep was old. Hollywood has finally acknowledged that older ticket buyers deserve a little face time.

Of course, it turns out that Hollywood hasn't acknowledged anything of the sort. You have to drill down to #23 on 2005's list of top grossing movies before finding one whose star or co-star topped 50 -- "Monster-In-Law," where Jane Fonda shared billing with 30-ish Jennifer Lopez.

Still, trend or no trend, it seems odd that movies remain as age averse as always, while other forms of entertainment are clearly graying. Take live music, whose top acts haven't been able to hear the high notes for decades. Or gaming, where the average player is now 33 and big hits feature cultural references from the 70s.

It could be that movies are about fantasy and wish fulfillment in a way that music and gaming are not, and fantasy leaves little room for the particular limitations of age. Or maybe not. I'm sure you have better ideas, not to mention actual trends, which you're welcome to post. If not, check out Talan's new album. Wait -- it still hasn't dropped? What a loser. And let's not even talk about Jessica. She's been reduced to blogging. I think Liz signed her up for tomorrow.

Hal Straus is the Opinions Editor of washingtonpost.com

By Hal Straus  | July 26, 2006; 10:25 AM ET
Categories:  Pop Culture  
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