Monday, September 21, 2009

Show Some Respect

Magnet# 41: Japanese Pagoda and Cherry Tree

Material: Resin

Purchased By: Dad

Today in Japan, they're celebrating Respect for the Aged Day. Ever since 1966, it was celebrated on September 15. But in 2003, it switched to the third Monday in September.

And how does one honor the aged on this day? Some Japanese neighborhoods organize lunch boxes and distribute them to the elderly for free. There are also festivals where younger citizens perform and the aged are treated to free tea and refreshments. People pray for the elderly and listen to their stories. The Japanese media focuses on the elderly, particularly their welfare, and often interviews some of the oldest individuals in the country. Tokyo even holds a ceremony where the governor presents gifts to some of the oldest citizens.

I think it's nice that older folks get a day set aside for them in Japan. It's too bad we can't have something a little like this in the U.S. for all of the elderly, not just grandparents. And it's also a shame the elderly aren't equally represented in the media. I can't help but be reminded of one of Boston Legal's final episodes when Betty White and John Larroquette's characters sue a network, claiming there are almost no shows in which older people are the main characters. And they're right. One person I know won't even watch any shows that don't feature any main characters over forty. Two of her favorites are House MD and Sex in the City (because of Samantha and Big). And with others like Boston Legal and Desperate Housewives, we are seeing more shows with at least middle aged stars. Maybe that's something the Baby Boomers are responsible for. In any event, it's a good sign we ought to see more of. While I'm fine watching teenagers and twenty-somethings for now, I think they may loose their appeal for me in another twenty or thirty years. Of course, the last time I can even remember a show featuring seniors in lead roles was Golden Girls. That really should change.

I thought it was worth mentioning that senior actor Henry Gibson passed away last week at the age of 73. If you ever watched Boston Legal, he had a recurring role as Judge Clark Brown, who was the most entertaining judge featured on the show. William Shatner's Denny Crane was a great foil for him, poking at him, once even using a client to seduce him on the stand, and forcing him to prove time and again that he was not a "namby pamby." He was fantastic in the role - at the very least, I'm glad he didn't pass during the show's run, as it just wouldn't have been the same without him.

So both in Hollywood and in real life, keep older people in mind and show them some kindness. Hold a door open for someone, be helpful with them in a store, or give an older relative a call. Lord willing, we'll all be aged ourselves someday.

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