One of the joys of working at Generations United is walking our talk. Our intergenerational workforce ranges from people in their 20s (and in their teens in the summer) into their 80s. It makes for wonderful discussions and quality work that benefits from everyone’s talents and life experiences. This doesn’t mean we always agree with each other but we are respectful of each other’s opinions and strive to listen and learn. Building on our age diversity, we thought it would be interesting to begin an occasional series called the Bookend Blog. I often refer to younger and older people as the “bookends” that hold our civil society together. The blog provides a venue for bookend members of our team to comment on current events and offer generational perspectives.
Our first bookend bloggers are Adam Hlava, our 29 year old Operations and Grants Manager, and Tom Taylor, our 85 year old Seniors4Kids Special Advisor. Last week we asked both gentlemen to watch the new Betty White “pranking youngsters” show on NBC, Off Their Rockers, and offer their perspectives. Their reactions were diverse. I hope you enjoy reading their thoughts below and please weigh in, we’d love to hear your thoughts too!
An elderly man walks up to a skate park, pulls out a skate board from his stereotypical sweater, and proceeds to amaze the kids around him with some incredible stunt work.
This is one of the pranks that a cast of elderly actors pull on unsuspecting young folks in NBC’s newest reality show Off Their Rockers, hosted by comedic staple Betty White. Although admittedly the show plays up quite a bit of elderly stereotypes (seniors with canes, walkers, electric scooters, etc) and exaggerates them in many cases, the show and its cast seem bent on shattering any pre-conceived notions that the elderly are simply cranky and antagonistic towards the younger generations. The limitations of older people are exaggerated in a way that makes a mockery of these stereotypes, and humorous in a way that generations young and old can appreciate. Another example was a scene in which an older woman at an airport recounts her rather wild time in Las Vegas. It’s funny because it goes against a pre-conceived idea that an older person would never party wildly Vegas (for added comedic effect, the woman turned out to be a nun). But this is a major theme of this show; to break down these stereotypes and laugh at them.
The jokes were well-intentioned and (for the most part) were generally pretty funny and in some cases a tad raunchy. Television today targets their programming towards specific age groups, but Off Their Rockers seems to bring a form of unity to its audience. Humor is ageless, and folks young and old can appreciate a well-natured gag. I can imagine watching this show with my grandparents and, aside from the awkwardness derived from some of the more risqué humor, see us all laughing together. Betty White is one of the funniest people on the planet, and she happens to be 90 years old. It was refreshing and unique to see her talents and the those of the older cast members of the show, something that folks of all ages can appreciate.
They sure were, "Off Their Rockers". I'm 85 and my lady friend is 82 and we watched the program together. We both feel that the program failed to do anything constructive in terms of creating better intergenerational relationships. Most of the segments were silly, pointless and had no conclusion. The young people were left guessing as to what was going on and had expressions on their faces wondering if older people really are, "off their rockers". The one great segment was the man on the skateboard. He should be in show business. A great opportunity was missed when the two young men who were watching him were not interviewed for their impressions of what this senior was able to do. The skateboarder had shown them some tricks which were a challenge to them. They may have wanted to learn more because their facial expressions showed that they respected and admired his ability. Let's not try to fool the younger generations. Instead share our knowledge and experience and, accept and acknowledge help which younger people frequently offer.
Photo courtesy of NBCUniversal Media, LLC