The true horror would be to never grow Old, M. Night

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 I was saddened to see Old, the latest cinematic offering from director M. Night Shyamalan, fall into one of the few “isms” still socially accepted in our society: ageism. The film follows a number of hot young tourists who land on a mysterious beach and are soon horrified when they discover it causes them to age at advanced rate, becoming “Old” before their time.

Perhaps I am overly sensitive, frequently being called “boomer”, “dinosaur” and “bald,” I am perhaps more “woke” to age discrimination than most, but it seems in spectacularly poor taste to make a movie where the primary threat is the natural process of ageing, when we people-of-age already face such persecution in our society. This is particularly egregious because, unlike my parents’ generation (who are frequently baffled by technology and are regularly duped into voting Republican), my generation are remaining cooler and “with it” much later into life. One need only look at the success of old, bald actors like Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis and Patrick Stewart to recognize that the days of poking fun at someone because of their age (or indeed hereditary male pattern baldness) are long gone.  Age related discrimination is no longer ok and this is something ignorant, lazy millenials, like M. Night, and entitled, vain zoomers, like my son, Humphrey, would do well to take note of.

It is inconceivable to imagine a film which revels in the grotesque horror as visitors to a beach slowly transform into another persecuted minority. A movie called Black, Gay or Mentally Challenged would quite rightly led to cancellations en masse. Yet why is Old ok? These other demographics rightly have their protection enshrined in law, it is now time for Ageing Americans to be afforded the same respect.

Far be it from me to tell M. Night how to direct his film and that would certainly be overstepping my boundaries as a critic but perhaps instead of presenting the cheap scares of premature ageing, Old could have depicted many advantages of seniority: such as a greater sense of comfort in one’s identity, lasting friendships and an improved credit score. Or perhaps over the course of two hours a gang of youths are alarmed to discover they do not age at all and we can see them confront those horrors and hopefully emerge with a bit more respect for their elders. I would encourage M. Night to look at the example set by Jordan Peele. It would have been all too easy for Get Out to present African Americans as scary or undesirable between their discordant rap music and their increased likelihood of suffering police brutality. Instead the film does quite the opposite, it shows African Americans as cool and very much desirable! If only Old showed the same compassion.

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