Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Is Rocky Right?

Rocky’s back and he’s about to make a fool of himself. That’s the underlying message of an article in the New York Times recently announcing the release of “Rocky Balboa,” a Sylvester Stallone movie that brings the aging boxer out of retirement for one last doomed go in the ring. Even Stallone’s wife was worried when he took on the project, anticipating “humiliation and embarrassment” for the 60-year-old actor.

Stallone seems willing to risk the ridicule. Mainstream culture caters increasingly to the youth demographic, so good for him for pushing back. If his generation is considered obsolete, he told the Times reporter, it’s “just not true. This film is about how we still have something more to say.”

It seemed to me that there should be room for a movie, even a boxing movie, about a man who won’t accept that he’s washed up because he’s 60? This reaction would come as no surprise to the Times reviewer, who somewhat condescendingly observed that that Stallone “may well rally some support from baby boomers who are similarly reluctant to leave the stage.” Do I see smirking in the peanut gallery? Like maybe there’s some kind of karmic justice at work when the demographic that famously never trusted anyone over 30 feels prematurely pushed aside?

I guess you could look at it that way. By rights center stage belongs to the young. After all, we had our turn, and quite a long one too. Then there is the reality that must be faced: all those decades have added up. Certain things we can’t/won’t/aren’t in a position to do any longer.

Still, we in the baby boom generation do have more to say. And if mainstream channels shut us out – well, we formed a counter-culture once, we can do it again. We don’t even need to seize the means of production, because we already own it. You are looking at it. The computer changes everything about growing older: It’s becoming easier and easier to circumvent the (youth-oriented) gatekeepers by digital means. So there’s no way we “aging boomers” can be marginalized unless we allow it to happen.

I picture us, some years down the road, as members of a vast, virtual community— sitting on our front porches, laps warmed by laptops, staying in touch and keeping up with one another’s creative output via the Internet.

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