Dateline: Friday morning; watching a movie on TV while warming-up on my elliptical machine before my streaming yoga class. When Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone takes a commercial break, I discover a new (well, to moiself ) tactic in the using-the-fear-of-living-to-sell-stuff campaigns. Along with “anti-aging” potions, there now is at least one skin product company that is promoting their products as “ageless.“ Hmmm So, if you use their serums and creams and lotions you can be ageless. Which, if I understand the meaning of the suffix -less, means you will no longer have age – you know, like people who don’t yet exist, or are dead.
And what a convenient segue to…
Department Of Topical Topics
Dateline: Sunday 1:30 pm-ish; MH and I driving home after dining out. During lunch we’d discussed our previous evening’s watching of the first three episodes of season 3 of Star Trek’s Picard. We talked about what we liked and didn’t like plot-wise, and what we both found distracting and disturbing: the “new face’ in the cast,  which was actually a familiar face, or should have been. Translation: we were both saddened and disappointed by the draconian visage of actor Gates McFadden (Star Trek/TNG’s Dr. Beverly Crusher), yet another actor who oh-so-obviously had drastic self-mutilation “work done.”
How moiself cringed to behold her…and I’d been looking forward to seeing her character again. I’d just listened to McFadden’s most recent podcast: I’ve listened to many episodes of it, where I’ve learned that in addition to being an actor and choreographer, McFadden is also passionate about her work as a theater director and acting teacher. I don’t know if she’s still teaching acting, but if she is, I’m wondering how she would counsel novice actors – in particular, female actors – re the thespian principle of how your body is your instrument…and your face is attached to your body and is the most expressive part of your instrument, but so many actors now seem to view their face as an ornament – passive and decorative, not active and expressive – which needs periodic refurbishing.
McFadden and most of the TNG cast are making guest and/or recurring appearances on Picard. Assuming McFadden’s fellow TNG actors hadn’t seen her in a while,  here’s another thing I wondered: one by one, as her former castmates are filming their scenes in which Dr. Crusher and their respective characters have roles, they see her grotesque altered appearance for the first time, backstage, and…how do they react?
They *are* actors, so it’s likely that, after a truly sincere, “It’s so good to work with you again!” they convincingly spew the obligatory, “You look great!”…or just change the subject. 
I feel so bad for – nope, wait, I do not. Not gonna apologize for my honest reaction. I’m just so sad to know that if I were to have met her, I’d be stifling my What happened to you – you look terrible?!? Whatever you did, let it wear off and DON’T DO IT AGAIN reaction, which would be a cruel thing to say to anyone. And after it’s done – when it’s “too late” – no one is likely giving her honest feedback.
What kind of a shallow and shitty world makes her think that she had to do that to herself? And who LIES to her (who lies to *anyone* who does these procedures?) after her face has been sliced the pulled and stitched and bloated and tells her she looks great, or at least somehow better?
It’s unfair/not nice, I know. Female actors encounter a loss of work if they age naturally, then get criticized when they attempt to mask their age surgically. But…oh, Ms. McFadden…Gates, Gates, Gates, girl…things aren’t going to change unless we decide to change them, by not capitulating to the sexism and agism which drive such decisions. And if you’re not moved to rebel by realizing the dirty cultural and political standards that drive the plastic surgery industry, what about trying a dose of this reality:
* You don’t look “better” after cosmetic surgery – no one who undergoes these procedures does.
* It calls attention to your aging, and your fear of it;
you look distorted, not younger.
Après lunch I opened the LA Times app on my phone, and saw the latest Steve Lopez column. Longtime journalist Lopez started a new project several months back, which the Times announced thusly:
“…we are thrilled to announce that Lopez is launching a new column, Golden State, which will explore the challenges, and occasional thrills, of aging.
Nearly 6 million people 65 and older live in California, and that number will nearly double by 2030. That growing demographic grapples daily with care-giving shortages, age discrimination, isolation and health issues. … They are negotiating relationships with adult children and with grandchildren. In some instances, they’re raising their grandchildren. At the same time, many people 65 and older continue to be at the top of their game….”
And the focus of Lopez’s most recent column?
“We live in a society obsessed with youth, fearful of death and allergic to wrinkles.
But actress Mimi Rogers, who is 67, is having none of it….
It’s refreshing to see a big-name Hollywood actor age naturally and gracefully rather than grotesquely.”
Mimi Rogers had contacted Lopez about another article he’d written. They corresponded, she agreed to be interviewed about her recent acting roles, and then…
… she was happy to speak her mind…about ageism, longstanding societal pressures on women to look young, the double standard for men, and ‘the plastic surgery nightmares we see all around us.’
‘This is me, this is my face,” Rogers says, ‘and I’m not going to show up with fish lips.’
Rogers said she feels fortunate to have been able to consistently find work as she has aged, and she revels in her current role on Bosch: Legacy… a full-on, artful and talented lawyer who plays her age while fighting for her clients and her causes.
In many ways, Rogers said, this is a good time for older actors because streaming of high-quality shows has opened some doors. But biases and double standards are still firmly in place.
‘It goes back to when Cary Grant was cavorting with 22-year-olds’ on screen,’ Rogers said. ‘I think it’s better in Europe, but a lot of women talk about this idea that past a certain age, you become invisible. It’s like your sexual currency is gone, and that currency goes away much more rapidly for women.’
We’re at something of a ‘turnstile moment,’ says University of Michigan cultural critic Susan J. Douglas, author of “Where the Girls Are: Growing Up Female With the Mass Media.” Stereotypes about female aging persist, she said, but there’s been a pushback and ‘a visibility revolt’ in which actresses, including Judi Dench and Helen Mirren, ‘are still opening movies and TV shows, and political figures, including Nancy Pelosi and Maxine Waters, are ‘staking a claim to be visible in public life.’
Moiself’s insertion: Yeah, stake that claim….even as people like CNN Newscaster Don Lemon (age 57) keep saying (and thinking) shit things like this: 
CNN host Don Lemon shocked his co-host after saying that Nikki Haley, who recently announced her plan to run for president in 2024, and other women over the age of 50 aren’t in their “prime.”
On Thursday morning’s episode of CNN This Morning, Lemon and co-host Poppy Harlow discussed Haley’s recent comments about requiring competency tests for politicians over the age of 75.
“This whole talk about age makes me uncomfortable. I think it’s the wrong road to go down. She says people, you know, politicians are suddenly not in their prime. Nikki Haley isn’t in her prime. Sorry. When a woman is considered in her prime is in her twenties and thirties,” Lemon said.
More Lopez column excerpts (from “ ‘This is me, this is my face’: Actress Mimi Rogers on aging naturally, without cosmetic surgery,”
my emphases, LA Times 3-4-23 )
‘Mimi’s position is so important to the rest of us, because celebrity culture often sets the standard for everyday women — the standards of slimness and beauty and looking young,’ Douglas said.
Many women, Douglas continued, face a “punishing” dilemma — especially those in entertainment and public life. Wrinkles can threaten their livelihood, but ‘if you go under the knife and don’t look like yourself, you’re attacked for being narcissistic or wanting to hold on to the past. So it’s really hard to win.’
And then there’s the multibillion-dollar ‘anti-aging industrial complex’…diligently grooming the next cult of warriors in the fight against the inevitable.
“…it’s really quite a brilliant campaign,” said Douglas. ‘They are now marketing Botox to people in their 20s, and if you get people to be phobic about aging when they’re young, you have an ever-replenishing market for your products.’ “
* * *
Department Of Silly Moiself…
…for doubting that Yet Another Bonehead remark® could come prancing out of the mouth of Senator Ted Cruz.
Last Saturday morning, I saw this social media post from a friend who is a longtime activist  in the National Gay Pilots Association:
NGPA Stands with Transgender Aviation Community
On March 1, 2023, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) said, “It gives no comfort to the flying public that their pilot might be a transgender witch but doesn’t actually know how to prevent a plane from crashing…”
The NGPA strongly condemns Sen. Cruz’s transphobic statement and welcomes the opportunity to educate Sen. Cruz and members of the Senate Commerce Committee on effective Crew Resource Management, how an inclusive flight deck is a safe flight deck, and how to be a supportive ally to Transgender aviators across the industry. Read the full press release here.
I had to look up the video (here it is) of Cruz’s comments; I thought the report of it might be an exaggeration, because I couldn’t quite believe that anyone would utter the words “transgender witches” with regard to anything FAA-related.
Also, as a member of the Flying Public ® (and therefore qualified to speak for ALL OF US), I know that witches have a millennia of skillful flying under their belts hats. Thus, I’ve no problem with witches of any gender orientation being involved with aviation. In case my opinion on the matter isn’t clear, behold my favorite of my car’s many bumper stickers:
* * *
Department Of Speaking Of Boneheads
I don’t read many comic strips anymore, in part due to my (mostly but not exclusively) subscribing to online newspapers. Even when MH and I subscribed to three “dead tree” newspapers and moiself would scan the comics pages, I hadn’t paid attention to Dilbert in years if not decades. I thought Dilbert was a clever idea when it started – the cubicle culture was a fresh and ripe venue for satire. Eventually it seemed to me that Dilbert kept repeating itself.  I stopped checking it out because I found it boring; also, there was a certain undertone of…smugness(?)…I couldn’t quite put my finger on.
Moiself didn’t know the strip was still running until its creator, Scott Adams, got into a brouhaha after he got ahold of some wicked Maui Wowie decided that the world needed to hear his WTF?!? opinions on race relations he broadcasted on his YouTube channel. 
Adams reportedly has a history of airing “problematic” views (including statements that can be taken as anti-COVID vaccination, claiming he lost job opportunities because he is white, and questioning the Holocaust death estimates). On February 22 he posted a rant (YouTube livestream ) wherein, after referencing a poll by the conservative-leaning Rasmussen Group that found only a slim majority of Black Americans agreed with the weirdly phrased statement, “It’s okay to be white,” Adams said that Black Americans are “a hate group” and advised white people to “get the hell away” from them.
“The phrase ‘it’s okay to be White’ was popularized in 2017 as a trolling campaign meant to provoke liberals into condemning the statement and thus, the theory went, proving their own unreasonableness. White supremacists picked up on the trend, adding neo-Nazi language, websites or images to fliers with the phrase….
‘Anyone who did know the history of it or who had a suspicion about the history of it might react to that Rasmussen question with some skepticism,’ said Nicholas Valentino, a political scientist at the University of Michigan who studies racial attitudes and public emotions. ‘And that wouldn’t be a sign that they didn’t like White people.’
(“A poll asked if it’s ‘OK to be white.’ Here’s why the phrase is loaded.” The Washington Post, 2-28-23 )
Did Adams not know (or care) about that tricky phrase’s history? Did he wonder, even for a moment, about that poll’s question’s phrasing?
I have no idea. However, IMO what some other cartoonists have said is equally or more troubling than Adams’ rant.
( Excerpts from “Cartoonists say a rebuke of ‘Dilbert’ creator Scott Adams is long overdue,” my emphases, NPR news 2-28-23 ):
“…(other) cartoonists say Adams has a long history of spewing problematic views…
‘It begs the question, now that everyone is piling on him, what took so long?’ said Keith Knight, an illustrator known for his comic strips The Knight Life, (th)ink and The K Chronicles….
After receiving widespread pushback for his offensive rant, Adams described himself as getting canceled. But (some) cartoonists argue that he is simply being held accountable for his remarks.
‘By Adams saying he’s been canceled, its him not owning up to his own responsibility for the things he said and the effect they have on other people,’ said Ward Sutton, who has contributed illustrations to The New York Times, The New Yorker and Rolling Stone. ‘He’s trying to turn himself into a victim when he himself has been a perpetrator of hate.’
…Similarly, Hector Cantú, best known for his Latino-American comic Baldo, said he believes in freedom of speech, but not freedom from repercussions.
‘Don’t gloss this over by saying it’s politics or it’s cancel culture,’ he said. ‘If you’re going to offend people, you risk paying the price.’
Do some deep yoga breaths, Cantú, and consider this: How do you define what the “price” is?
A blanket statement like If you’re going to offend people, you risk paying the price could be used to justify anything, as long as someone feels “offended.”
* What about “the price” Salman Rushdie has paid ? After all, he “had an effect on” – he “offended” – many, many people.
* What about the attack on the French newspaper, Charlie Hebro (12 murdered ; 11 injured) by an Islamic terrorist group, after the satirical publication ran cartoons that many people found offensive?
* And what about Theo van Gogh, the Dutch filmmaker who, in collaboration with Somali-born activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali made a TV film which criticized conservative Muslim clergy for perpetuating views that are anti-women and anti-gay? van Gogh was shot and stabbed to death on the streets of Amsterdam for his “offensive” views and films,  and Hirsi Ali received numerous death threats and had to go into hiding.
Look: It’s no surprise to moiself that Adams’ rant makes him sound like a Major Dickhead.
There are reasons I chose to stop reading Dilbert. And newspapers are, of course free, to choose which strips they will carry and which they won’t, for whatever reasons. But, hello, I am greatly troubled by Cantú’s comment. I believe Cantú’s attitude is a danger to intellectual liberty and freedom of expression – I suppose I should say I’m greatly *offended* by him, and then, what? I could be justified in making Cantú risk paying the price…whatever price I decide is appropriate re the depth of my umbrage?
* * *
Department Of Must See TV
So much to complain about, this past week!
Thus, I was happy find something worthy of anti-complaint. Moiself did something I’ve never done before: I wrote a letter to the producer(s) of a TV show. Here it is, in its entirety:
The 3-2-23 episode of Grey’s Anatomy (“All Star”) was a stunner, for me. First, the obligatory listing of my commentary credentials:
* I worked for nine years in women’s reproductive health care; five of those in a private OB-GYN practice and four in various Planned Planned Parenthood clinics.
* I am a human being.
The episode’s storyline which inspired me to write featured a young mother who suffered intractable non-treatment-responsive, devastating, postpartum depression after the births of each of her two children. She and her husband suffered a contraceptive failure and she was faced with a third, unplanned pregnancy. She chose to terminate her pregnancy to save her own mental health and to be able to be a fully present mother to her two young children.
What was stunning for me was when I realized how rare it was – what I was seeing. How refreshing to see a storyline involving a woman’s decision to have an abortion presented so forthrightly – as in, not involving hysteria or judgment, but wherein a patient needing medical services was able to make the best choice for herself and her family, and was able to do so legally, and with competent and compassionate medical care. Having worked in an abortion clinic, I also appreciated the depiction, once again competent and compassionate, of the abortion procedure itself.
Keep up the good work – and the story lines!
* * *
Freethinkers’ Thought Of The Week 
* * *
May you be part of the aging naturally visibility revolt;
May you be wary of how you react when you are “offended;”
May you cherish the comical absurdity of terms like transgender witches;
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 I almost didn’t recognize her…except that she was identified as Dr. Crusher.
 They’ve all been pursuing other gigs since the series went off the air and the last TNG movie was made, which was over 20 years ago.
 And how many of the male cast has had cosmetic procedures? Hard to tell, although, typically, males are “allowed” their wrinkles (and can use facial hair to a certain extent to hide sagging chins and lip and mouth lines). Patrick Stewart, who plays Jean Luc Picard, certainly looks *near* his age, but his forehead is suspiciously taut.
 Yes, in 2023, not 1923.
 Founding member, if memory serves.
 Without announcing, “this strip is a rerun.” Hey, everybody needs a vacation…
 Yep, I didn’t know Dilbert was still running and also didn’t know Adams had a YouTube channel.
 van Gogh was already dead when his murderer used a knife to pin a death threat to Ali on van Gogh’s chest. Ali subsequently went into hiding under government protection.
 “free-think-er n. A person who forms opinions about religion on the basis of reason, independently of tradition, authority, or established belief. Freethinkers include atheists, agnostics and rationalists. No one can be a freethinker who demands conformity to a bible, creed, or messiah. To the freethinker, revelation and faith are invalid, and orthodoxy is no guarantee of truth.” Definition courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, ffrf.org
Leave a Reply Cancel reply