It used to be that when I was sick or tired, or down-in-the-dumps, that I would seek out an action flick to give me a kick in the pants to get up and get going. I called them my “testosterone” movies because they had to have male leads to wake me up. In recent years, I haven’t felt so much the need to seek them out but I still enjoy watching them when a good – or even bad – one comes my way. In truth, I have become more and more desperate to find them as the movie industry seems to be overly preoccupied with science fiction, horror, futuristic, Marvel, animated, fantastical-in-all-ways-imaginable movies that I find extremely boring, if not ridiculous although, I will admit that occasionally I have been forced to watch one by the limited set of choices on the cable networks which have been provided to me free of charge by the U.S. embassy this year and been pleasantly surprised. Perhaps I should give more of them a chance. But, more often than not, my response to such movies is: What’s wrong with real people? I am clearly too old for the 21st century Hollywood.
In the realm of drama, I am not interested in the coming-of-age stories, or even in movies where everyone in their twenties. No, I love seeing the aging, craggy face of Robert Redford and Tom Hanks, the still-beautiful face of Meryl Streep who does not have appear to have opted for plastic surgery that would alter – and not in a good way – her face forever as did Meg Ryan and many other female actors have chosen to do “go under the knife” and come out on the other side no longer the beauties that we all adored to watch. I simply can’t understand why anyone would destroy a face that naturally would have aged beautifully. Farrah Fawcett was the first that I remember whose face became a horror after she had plastic surgery, I can’t figure out why everyone else did not learn from her experience. I cannot watch them in movies now, even if their acting is good enough for them to land a role with a ruined face and I worry about what I will do when the natural beauties die. How will I ever live without Tom Hanks or Meryl Streep? I am hoping that I go before either of them.
Imagine my delight when tonight, as I lay in a bed in a hotel in a town too unremarkable to even make it into the tour guides in eastern Nepal nursing a terrible head cold, when I turned on one of the two TV stations we can get in this hotel to find the movie The Expendables 3. Sylvester Stallone, who apparently started the franchise, Harrison Ford, Wesley Snipes, Jason Stratham, Mel Gibson, Antonio Banderas, and several others whom I recognize but whose names I do not know, were all there in their glorious testeronic personas shooting up one another with lots of boom and bang. A little more than necessary, perhaps, but beggars can’t be choosers. True to form, there was only one woman in this band of aging super heroes. It was a great distraction but it also cheered me up to see that all the “gang” was still in the action hero game in their elder years and, better yet, doing it all together in one movie. Usually I only get to see these iconic actors one at a time in a movie. I imagined that they must have had fun making the movie so, when it was over, I went online to read about it and discovered an entire genre of movie of which I had been hitherto been unaware — geriaction movies.
John Patterson had this to say about them in 2014, note that I’m already 4 years late to the party: I’m half encouraged that studios are finally catering to older audiences, while proving that older actors can still draw in the kids. But it’s not that brave, really: the baby boomers, the largest generational bulge of the last century, are of Geritol and Depends vintage now. They need to be entertained, they still go to the movies, and besides, they’re the only people left with any money.
For some, age is now a badge of honor. Certainly, after having finished my fifth workshop today out of a series of eight and, once again, listened to people rave about my energy despite being “67” — it is not impolite to ask someone what their age is in Nepal apparently — I am starting to feel pretty proud of my “old” self to have made it this far. Of course, they have no idea how much energy I used to have.
In East Africa the first questions a woman is usually asked are “are you married?” and “do you have any children?” In Nepal, after you have been asked where you are from, it is not uncommon to be ask ask how old are you. Of course, people also want to know if I am “alone” but where I am from and how old I am seems to be more important. I have only had to tell a few people that I am not married. Not having children appears to be more of a problem than not being married. But neither is as remarkable as my age. Today, in the workshop, a new dimension emerged when one participant explained what she had learned from watching me during the workshop. (Of course, I had in mind that they would tell me what they learned about teaching when I asked the question but the fact is that people learn all sorts of things from watching other people, and I cannot control, nor do I want to, what people find remarkable in their learning experiences.) She was, of course, not a day over 30.
Here in Nepal we women put on make-up to look beautiful. But I saw today that you have no make -up and your face is still beautiful.
These days, all the flattery is going to my head, and I feel like an action hero of sorts here in Nepal — a champion for aging naturally and with “great energy.”
Perhaps, it is because of this, my new celebrity status as the unadorned prune-like version of my former self that I so very much enjoyed seeing so many old-timers, their aging faces intact, churning up the screen as if being over sixty was a prerequisite for being a good action hero tonight. Certainly it took my mind off my plugged nose and my worries about what shape I would be in, or not, to deliver my next workshop tomorrow, or the two after that. I haven’t had a good snarly head cold for quite a while; it does make me “feel my age”. No, tonight was the time to curl up with a good movie and forget my worldly woes and geriactive cinema was just the ticket. So glad that Hollywood is making something just for me!