My irrelevance and that of my age cohorts was made emphatically clear Monday night in the waning hour of 2012 as the major TV stations ushered out the old year. They seemed, at the same time, to be ushering out us “older” folks as the “parties” sidestepped and ignored those over 35.
At a local party in East Calais where I live, the TV was tuned to ABC, where the program was “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve 2013.” In the nearly two hours (from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m.) about the only thing recognizable to any of the partygoers (over 50 and mostly over 60) was Dick Clark’s name. And he, if you are unaware, was a rock DJ and TV personality and, lately, died.
NBC similarly had a roster of names of interest to those under 30, but as obscure as the B side of “It’s My Party and I’ll Cry If I Want To” on its New Year’s Eve show.
The ABC show, now hosted by Ryan Seacrest, a 30-something vaguely familiar to me and others at the party, included Justin Bieber, Jason Aldean, Ellie Goulding, Greyson Chance and The Wanted, and Psy along with Taylor Swift, Carly Rae Jepsen, as well as Neon Trees. Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas (is that a singing food band?) hosted the West Coast party, which included previously announced performers Brandy, Flo Rida, Karmin, One Republic and Pitbull. Jenny McCarthy worked the Times Square crowd.
So what’s my beef? Nothing really, except that with the exceptions of Bieber and Swift (whose names and faces are becoming ubiquitous), I had no idea who these people were. And — this is what’s somewhat galling about the whole experience — I don’t think the producers cared if I or my age cohorts knew any of the names or had ever listened to their music.
We, the baby boomer generation, and a few who might even be younger than us, don’t matter — at least not at New Year’s on TV. Why should we? We aren’t the demographic that buys what that network was selling.
I was starting to get nostalgic for Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians, at this point, even Lawrence Welk. These were bands and leaders I remember from my pre-advanced years.
I guess TV executives have figured out that older folks also don’t go to Manhattan and Times Square to watch the ball drop. We have long lost the joy of standing in the freezing cold for hours so we can wave at a camera. (I actually did that in 1962, which is why I don’t have to do it again.) I didn’t see one aging face, not a dreaded whitehead anywhere in the “whoop it up, New Year’s is coming” crowd on this particular station.
The baby boom generation, at least according to ABC, is as good as dead itself. Let’s face it, Dick Clark, the leading pied piper for the music we might have enjoyed, isn’t doing the booking for the show anymore; he’s just collecting royalties, or at least someone he’s related to is.
But, hey, the folks at ABC can still use his name as a come-on to get a few of us to tune in, even though the come-on doesn’t produce any results.
Yes, over-50-year-olds, you are irrelevant. All you do is complain about not getting enough Social Security, AARP’s position points, and the cheapest price for Viagra. If the TV stations are to be believed, you are also invisible.
I thought about producing my own New Year’s Eve TV show for 2014. It would star Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, The Doobie Brothers, Barbra Streisand and The Seldom Scene. But as I thought about it a bit longer, I realized that program wouldn’t work. Who wants to get up in the middle of the night, at midnight, to watch a bunch of screaming grandchildren hug and kiss when the big ball drops?
Our New Year’s Eve TV show would have to start at 6 p.m. so we’d all be awake to watch it.
Art Edelstein is a regular contributor to the InVite section. He lives in East Calais.MORE IN Commentary
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