The Generative Years: Living
What’s Next
The Social Construction of Aging and Creativity
All of the project participants, many ranging in age from around 40 to 60+ years, are still
working and hanging tough in spite of a recession. There are moments when they are
conscious of aging in a youth-fixated industry but they choose not to obsess precisely
because they position themselves and co-create with many positive age-related
possibilities. A few of these include having a broader perspective and a gaze for “what’s
possible” which allows them to prioritize multiple demands along with the peripheral vision
to assess and act on other options that are not readily apparent. The added years of
experience make these folks a little smarter because they know they’ve been through a
similar situation before and they have the ability to recognize the historical and social
context for change and this understanding promotes greater acceptance rather than taking
it personally (e.g. recession and reduced rates).
Yet there is a “crass ceiling” that many media workers, regardless of workstyle, are having
trouble reconciling and that is the social construction (see Literature Review) of a culture
that primarily associates creativity and work vitality with youth. Like the “glass ceiling,”
where women and minorities felt excluded from breaking through into the upper echelons
of management, the “crass ceiling” is a phrase I used to reveal the quiet, often unspoken
barriers that these participants feel as seasoned veterans working in a youth-fixated
industry. They respond accordingly with a self-imposed silencing when it comes to
mentioning age because they do not want to be penalized over something they cannot
control, yet they have a lot to say. There are plenty of articles emerging about the
importance of having a balanced intergenerational workforce, however this message needs
to reach the creative industries where youth-culture still rules. This chapter not only
examines various participants’ voices on aging in a pro-youth industry, but also
demonstrates how they are becoming new role models for working longer, smarter, and
better in an age-adverse culture and how their presence is vital evidence that creativity
thrives at any age.
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