I watched Suicide Squad for the first time this week and really enjoyed it, not least for the array of talented actors in it but because it had Jared Leto as The Joker; a part he played really well. Reading about it after I saw it, I was surprised to learn that Mr Leto is 44 years old, soon to be 45. Yet to me, he’s still that baby-faced guy from My So Called Life. He hasn’t aged. But, I bet to a late-teen, he’s an old timer and I bet if I told my daughter and son about him when they’re older, they would sneer inwardly and roll their eyes as they look on at a wrinkly old man in whom they can see no hidden depth. And only when I make them watch one of his films might they realise who he was.
As a young woman, not so long ago (cough), I would sometimes tire of hearing from my elders about films I should see, and television and film stars who I should appreciate the beauty of (mainly of the male variety) but who now looked pretty un-filmstar-like in my eyes. I did not appreciate the beauty or talent of such stars as Adam Faith, George Hamilton (tanning salon, anyone?), AL Pacino or Robert de Niro. I sneered inwardly too when they were described as dreamy. In fact, the only one I ‘got’ was Richard Gere.
And just as I sneered at these aging heroes, I sneered at the decades they came from and laughed along with my peers at members of the elder generation who still dressed in a style they probably wore when they were living in that time.
But do you know what? I get it now. At the grand total of 35 years old, I full-on get it.
I’ve seen the light. Or, more accurately, I’ve grown up and along the way I’ve seen a few movies that made me appreciate the former glory of these Hollywood statesmen. When I finally saw The Way We Were, as well as developing a crush on Streisand, I realised how beautiful Robert Redford was. When I saw The Godfather, I fell in love with Pacino, and when I saw Midnight Express, I realised that Channing Tatum is a reincarnation of Brad Davis.
Objects of our desire seem to go around in circles and as young and trendy folk, or in my case just young, we assume a sort of arrogant stance over our elders. We assume we know best, because we know what is new and current. Our film stars are the only film stars ever to look this glorious or be this talented. Our music is the only music ever to sound this cool; none of that easy listening shit, we’ll be tapping our feet to Kanye in the old people’s home. Our art surpasses all art, our stories are ground-breaking, our potential is enormous. How awesome to be in that young, hip brigade of trend-setters and influencers.
Well not quite. What I’m realising, and embracing, as I move through my thirties is that my perceptions, our perceptions, are all relative. We love our time. We love what our generation loves. It keeps us in time with the music. Consider how huge Take That were the second time around, perhaps even bigger than the first, but look at who their fans are – 30-40 year old woman, largely, who have remained loyal. And look at Duran Duran. An achingly beautiful band in their prime, and still beautiful now but I bet they would hold little appeal to Generation Z.
I don’t mean for this to sound shallow. I suppose my point is, we move through time with our generation in step with each other, while we follow the same patterns as the last, even if we don’t see it. We assume we know more than the one before, until we grow up and only then appreciate what they knew, what they know, who they were, and who we will become. I imagine I will be that older person who one day bangs on about how great the nineties and early millennium years were, whilst I’m wearing double denim and lip liner, and blogging on Selfish Grandmother from my armchair whilst listening to some gangsta rap. But I’m ok with that. Because it was awesome and in the end everything comes around again.
Image: shared under Creative Commons’ Public Domain Dedication license.