Betty White’s TV show, “Off Their Rockers” has been cancelled and it appears I’m not the only grouch celebrating its demise. A perusal of comments on entertainment sites following notice of cancellation indicates many viewers found the show distasteful.
The premise of the misguided effort is said to be “A troupe of senior citizens pulls pranks on unsuspecting folks.” The “unsuspecting folks” are usually embarrassed young people. Also embarrassed are viewers who hang around long enough to watch “senior citizens” acting is if they are non compos mentis. To watch an elderly actress make an inappropriate suggestion to a teenage boy just for laughs is not amusing. Raunchy old women are not funny; they are disgusting.
In response to my campaign to get the show off the air I received an anonymous email that attempted to justify the show claiming it was all in fun, and suggested I should lighten up. However, if the show were demeaning to blacks, gays or other minorities I doubt the “it’s all in fun” premise would have made it past the first episode.
In her ninth decade, still able to function as if decades younger, it’s difficult to imagine Betty doesn’t see how wrong it is to participate in a project that makes her peers look like senile fools. Aren’t old people disrespected enough already? Hopefully, she will make more thoughtful project choices in the future.
Perhaps something positive will come out of all of this. Betty is in an enviable position. Very few women her age have the mental and physical stamina to do what she does. In that sense she is inspiring, providing assurance to older women that incapacitating decline does not necessarily accompany advanced age. That said, with her extraordinary talent and access to so many resources, in so many ways Betty could motivate and help older women reach their full potential, empowering them to use their brains, wisdom and life experiences to not only enhance their own lives, but to be of service and value to others.
Betty, are you listening?