[MJR] 40 is new 60 in media

25 Apr,2012

By Ranjona Banerji


Every day when I look in the mirror I know that 50 is getting closer. I do not grudge or regret my advancing years – I’ve enjoyed most of those that have gone by. It’s only when I open a newspaper that I get really sad about my age. Given that no one above the age of 40 can get a job in the media any more, the 13-year-olds who work in newspapers have decided that anyone above the age of 40 is doddering and on the brink of senile dementia.


Cross 40 and you can be called a senior citizen, elderly, aged and any other such ageist term that you can think of. To actually avail of senior citizen benefits in India, you have to be between the ages of 60 and 65, so that particular descriptive has some technical connotations. But try explaining those to a 13-year-old who heads a news desk.


Thanks to newspapers, the general public also get influenced. Mid-Day did a very good story earlier this week on how children were arrested for playing cricket in Vashi. The police said that a “senior citizen” had complained and that is why they took action. The senior citizen was 40. That is, at least 20 years before she can get a discount on a railway ticket. Good to know, I suppose, that age still commands respect.


Wednesday’s Times of India tells us that two senior citizens and another person killed themselves. The first person was 71, the second was 34 and the third was 66. You feel for the 34-year-old – had he waited six years, he would have been a senior citizen too. When senior citizens kill themselves, by the way, they are usually depressed. I am guessing from reading newspapers.


Oddly, these same newspapers will run stories about how 60 is the new 30 and 40 is the new 11. Clearly, the nine-year-olds who edit these feature sections are too young to read the rest of the newspaper, so have no clue what their classmates, sorry colleagues, are up to.


Ah well, another day another grey hair.


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