I read with interest about actor Ed Asner playing the part of God in an upcoming performance of “God Help Us!” at the Eastport Arts Center. The article told of his many accomplishments, and listed his age as 89.
Four other actors in the play were named – Brian Giles, Ann Cornelison, Jenie Smith, Peter Frewen – yet only Asner’s age was listed. How old are these other actors? I’m curious. Why were their ages not listed? Could it be ageism?
I believe the writer’s intent was to honor Mr. Asner for his accomplishments and longevity in acting. This doesn’t negate my concern. Is Mr. Asner an especially good actor, now, because of his age? Or is he simply an accomplished actor who is 89? What relevance does his age have to his current role?
Ageism is like sexism and racism. It involves setting a person apart from others based on a common characteristic. It can be negative or positive. Consider if the article listed his race, as if being “white” somehow supports his venerated status in his field. My point is that listing his age – while not doing so for others – is just as problematic.
When negative, ageism can be harmful to personal worth and self-esteem. Ageism is arguably the most common of the “isms” that divide people today. Most of us – myself included – harbor ageist thoughts often without realizing it. This article was ageist. Mr. Asner is a great actor, end sentence.