March 6, 2010


(in 1969 turning 35 was considered over the hill . . how "over the hill" has changed)

One of the things about living in this day and age is that we swear things were never this bad, this strange, this out of hand.

I hate to keep harping on it but, no, that's just not so.

The obsession with youth is timeless - the technology may have changed, certainly the advances in surgery have. But the obsession hasn't budged, ever. So I happened across this documentary, produced by NBC News for their Second Sunday weekend radio series from December 14, 1969. As a cultural artifact, it's worth a listen.

First off, it's narrated by the popular 60's New York Disc Jockey Murray The K (himself a bit older than he claimed) and features a number of NBC News luminaries including a "perky and youthful" (their words not mine) Barbara Walters.

The interviews range from the quaint to the horrifying, but the obsession is the same.

Unidentified Woman (answering question why is she at The Sanctuary, a beauty Spa in Los Angeles): “I don’t want to grow old gracefully. I don’t want to grow old; I want to stay young as long as I can. I live in a city where the greatest commodity on the market is youth; we’re running to buy whatever we can. And there’s a great deal of importance attached to it. I can’t go anywhere in this city without seeing at least ten very lovely young things sitting all around me. And I have to compete.”

Mr. Dee (owner of The Complete Man, New York): “We’re trying to make the men themselves feel wanted in today’s youth Market. We give them hair; we style the hair that they have, we advise them on the type of clothes to wear. We make them lose a little weight. What we do, we actually make them a complete man.”

Bear in mind we're talking over 40 years ago, so some of the comments expose a little misogyny here and there. But the bottom line is the fear of age and youth culture was very much on the minds of most people, especially in the 60s and it was not the exclusive fear of one sex or another.

So don't feel as though you've stumbled across anything new when it comes to aspects of age. It's been around forever.

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