I often wondered if there was any truth to the Aaliyah song Age Ain't Nuthin But A Number", and over the past few weeks I've begun to notice how important age is to some people. This idea that age determines what you can and cannot accomplish in your personal life and career drives me up the wall. Allow me to vent by providing two examples(and I'm sure you know where this post is heading by looking at the three pictures above), one example that is indicative of pop culture and another that hits close to home.
I've been following Janet Jackson's career since I was a child. I cannot name another artist that has had such a positive impact on my life and my early decision to pursue a career in the performing arts. She has achieved goals and broken records that today's artists couldn't reach with a ten foot pole and 21 years later we still anxiously await new releases.
Despite the infamous wardrobe malfunction and lackluster sales of her last two studio albums(that still went platinum) Janet has shown impressive resilience, strength and longevity in a business where artists are here today and gone tomorrow.
Yet everywhere I go or every message board I log onto there's tons of people who are quick to discredit Janet's talent and legacy based upon her age. At 41 years old she's somehow too old to be making music and executing choreography? There is an obvious double standard in play here that truly pisses me off for lack of a better word.
Madonna is nearly 50 and Cher is in her 60's and they continue to release new material and tour the world and they're not subjected to the same cruel standards. And their music hasn't always received the warmest reception. Madonna's American Life CD was considered a failure in the U.S. and abroad as well as her Remixed and Revisited CD that failed to make the Billboard Hot 100, yet they're still deemed relevant. Can someone please explain this to me?
We obviously live in a youth obsessed culture where thin is in, blonde is best, and under 35 is considered to be more appealing to the masses. Don't we see this exact same thing happening in the gay community? Some of us wouldn't look twice at a man who doesn't fit the age and description of a City Gym Boys model or an Abercrombie&Fitch type. I know somebody is going to e-mail me and say it all comes down to personal preference, which I don't doubt. But all of this really made me stop and think about what life is like for a single gay man over 40, and even for Janet who still believes she has something to offer the music industry at 41 only to have her age become a deciding factor in her success.
If life is supposed to be over after 40 with no chance of continuing to live as you did before, then I'm glad I've accomplished many of my childhood dreams, found the man I want to spend the rest of my life with and 12 years to spare before the inevitable 40 happens to me.
By the way, the new album 'Discipline' from the 41 year old icon drops February 26th.