Mar
30
2011

  Am I Ageist?

I find myself having more empathy for the "older" contestants on American Idol than I do for the teenagers. Older is relative, of course, I think the "older" group was still born in the 1990s, maybe a few were born in the late '80s.

I did vote for some of the teenagers tonight, but I can't help but feeling bad for the contestants who are in their 20s. I find myself voting for them, even though I might not like them overly much.

It just seems to me that I want to cut the older contestants a little more slack than the youngsters. I find myself thinking, "who are these teenagers who are living out their dream at such a young age?". It doesn't seem fair, it seems the older ones had a much harder slog to get to the same position.

Plus, I wonder if it isn't perhaps a little beneficial for teenagers to have their dreams crushed when they are young? It's not that I think if they don't win they will give up singing, in fact, I think it's the opposite. I can imagine a 27-year old with kids who loses being resigned to the idea that she gave her dream her best shot, and it didn't work out, and she'll go back to her old life and responsibilities. I figure the teenagers are more likely to lack the perspective to realize what a big deal it is to lose and to shrug it off and continue merrily on their path to becoming singers. Without fully realizing what a HUGE boost they got just from being on the show. Not that they are not realizing anything on purpose, it's just the nature of being a teenager. So I don't feel so bad not voting for them.

So am I biased in favor of older people? Am I prejudiced against the young? Not that it's of major consequence in this instance, the show doesn't ask you to justify your vote, just pick your favorites. And I don't vote for people just because they're older, I also have to like them. It's just that I think I'm more apt to like them because I have more empathy for them.

I also wonder if I would have the same perspective if I was the mother of a teenager myself. Would I still feel more empathy for the older competitors, or would I think that the teenagers deserve an equal chance, it's not their fault that they happen to be young when their talent is recognized? Hard to say.