Shame on you, Billy Crystal! Your tasteless and unnecessary joke at the expense of a segment of the population was uncalled for.
No, I’m not talking about the bit with you dressed as the great Sammy Davis, JR in the Midnight in Paris sequence. That was pretty clever and well done. I’m not even talking about the stupid joke that was cynical and mean about a hugging a black woman after watching The Help. That one made no sense and wasn’t funny. (Take my advice and leave African American zingers to someone like Chris Rock. People are way too touchy these days.)
What I am referring to is the throw away line about Christopher Plummer. In a L.A. Times informal poll, 16.98 % agreed with me that making fun of Captain Von Trapp’s age, saying he might wander off during the show, was Billy’s lamest joke. How stupid and uninformed about senior citizens was that? I loved it when Christopher Plummer bounded up the steps to accept his award and gave an articulate and beautifully delivered acceptance speech, as well.
On the other hand, I thought Max Von Sydow and Christopher Plummer looked old for 82. These guys must have lived hard. They looked older than some of the people I just did a Writers Workshop with in Seattle who were all in their mid to late nineties. I’m guessing the Seattleites didn’t do as much partying as the Hollywood set.
I want to let you in on a little truth: 80 is not old. I have many friends who are in their eighties and look like what Hollywood portrays as sixtyish. My friends have as much vitality as I do, as much joie de vivre. Not that some don’t have a few physical issues, but who doesn’t? It comes with the territory. “Getting old is not for sissies,” as Bette Davis said. Of course, in Hollywood, old is probably considered to be 40. Fifty, just ask Demi Moore, is ancient. Sixty? Forget about it!!
Which brings us back to Billy Crystal, who will be 64 this month. You’re almost a Medicare Citizen, Billy—get over yourself! You are not the youthful sprite that you once were—Harry met Sally almost 25 years ago. And Billy, you don’t look healthy, either. The dyed black hair made you look pallid. And your face was so puffy you looked like you were on cortisone or prostate hormone therapy. I don’t believe as some are saying that your round punim came from Botox and fillers. But something’s up.
To be fair, Billy was not alone in his ageist prejudice. From The New York Times: “The whole night looked like an AARP pep rally, starting with an introduction by Morgan Freeman, who was followed by Billy Crystal.” Wow, if they had made an allusion to Morgan’s race or Billy’s religion, the Political Correctness Police would have been issuing tickets right and left.
I didn’t find much written about the fact that many of the Oscars winners were older. And that they won the old fashioned way: they earned them through superior work. The younger generation has a hard act to follow.