Betty White on SNL blasting the ageist stereotypes. Or not.

Betty White on Saturday Night Live. See clip here. Here’s what I was thinking:

Skit after skit felt exactly like every other over-sexed SNL show, but with a white-haired 88-yr-old in the mix. We needed a wise elder like White to tell it like it is, and expose how SNL’s raunch culture, while humorous at times, isn’t getting us anywhere.  That was what I was hoping for.  Sadly enough, the writers thought it would be more funny if she DIDN’T play herself.

Here’s what made it worth watching, and pushed us in new directions:

  • It defied the invisibility of old women, confronted people’s fears of aging, and exposed important overlooked similarities across the age spectrum (like the fact that sexuality can be important at all ages, and lipstick too).
  • It was refreshing to have moments of Betty’s wisdom, like when she said that FB is a complete waste of time (!).
  • Those fiesty young activists who pushed SNL to hire White as a host showed us that activism still exists (and can be successful), and young people (!news flash!) respect the old.

But the respect didn’t go far enough. Here’s why:

  • Every other joke harkened back to the stereotypes — the nonsexual, nonthreatening grandmother figure.  Jokes were only funny if you already assumed that 88-year-olds have “crusty” vaginas and don’t talk tough. I didn’t.
  • Playing up youthfulness, sexiness is assuming that age doesn’t matter. No matter what our age, we all want to be Betty Boop. But isn’t there more to life…hello??

What say you?


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Meika Loe

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