A couple of writers filed suit where they couldn’t get agents because they were too
old. They were like in their late 30s. I remember when I was younger writing from
my head about stuff that was happening around me. The previous generation, even
if I thought it was fresh, knew that it was only fresh to my peers.
This freshness or newness can sometimes be attributed to people not having a broad
enough perspective to recognize that it has been done before or maybe not caring about
redundancy which is commonplace in media where successful shows morph and mutate
into another version with formulaic predictability. Kasumi, a recent Guggenheim recipient
for experimental media art, when asked how she perceived age and creativity were valued
in our culture she quickly responds:
Total ageist society. You live, you learn, you grow, and become competent and
you get better and better But you’re not 19. There used to be a time when people
who have attained were respected musicians, for example. Now in certain fields,
the over-thirty set is scorned and shunned. It’s an obsession with newness. I
mentioned the word ‘rebel.’ People loved James Dean in ‘Rebel Without a Cause’
because his attitude was so different cool different saleable. The image
becomes a commodity and Hollywood and Madison Avenue embrace the ‘rebel.’
Now we are all wearing the same uniform of nonconformity and Kasumi adds, “Exactly.
Now it’s material for my work.” I ask Kasumi what her plans are for future work and her
response is generative, “More of the same. I’m doing basically what I want to do.
Creating, experimenting, and growing.”
The Courage to Try Something Ridiculous
The real rebels in our culture need the courage to “try something ridiculous” as Laura
Paglin, the documentary filmmaker notes. Laura suggests that it is important to learn from
young people who are willing to take risks and says, “I think younger people are not afraid
to try something new and you can learn from that as well. They can learn from the more
Intergenerational Work Crews
Carol Beck, a videographer for major national accounts and documentaries, candidly
discusses aging in the industry:
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