Here we go again…
They’re one of the biggest pop acts of all time, but when ABBA split in 1982, they vowed never to reunite.
That was then, but today they’re back – with a new album, a purpose-built concert hall and a ‘sure-to-be-a-sell-out’ show.
I, like millions of fans, was elated to see them together again and thrilled that, after so long, they sounded as good as ever. Listening to their new tracks filled me with nostalgia. I loved the fact they had the guts to put themselves in the spotlight once again. And why not? In my opinion, they’re as brilliant as they ever were.
When I heard there was going to be a live concert I couldn’t believe it – a chance to see them in person once more. BUT – and this is a BIG but, fans won’t see them again, instead virtual ABBATARS, as they’ve been dubbed. Motion captured and de-aged virtual versions of themselves. Youthful ABBA.
Now I get why a group of seventy-odd year olds might not have the energy to fulfil the demands of a live concert night after night. That makes perfect sense. What doesn’t make any sense at all to me is why they felt the need to present a younger version of themselves. They look bloody brilliant as they are now – fit, healthy, happy. Real role models for us baby boomers and everyone else for that matter.
As well as being confused – I felt sad… and a little let down. Not by them, but by society. A society in which youth is held in such high esteem, old age reviled.
It wasn’t always this way. In Roman times, old age was revered…
“Old age is the crown of life: The final act in the play of life,” said Cicero, Roman statesman and lawyer.
Back then people saw wisdom, sober judgement and life experience as endearing qualities. People treated elders with respect, knowing full well that what goes around, comes around.
So, what changed?
We did. Industrialization made humans replaceable, and youthfulness and beauty became something to be worshipped.
Today we live in an agist world. Fact. A world in which old people are seen as “incompetent, hostile and a burden on others.” A society which “widely mocks, patronizes and demonizes” the old. A place where negative attitudes to elders are “rife in the workplace, in health and social care and especially in the media.”
Those findings were revealed in a report by the Centre for Ageing Better in the UK, published in 2020, but the same evidence is found globally, and this ingrained culture of hostility towards elders is proving hard to shift.
But shift it we must.
In March the UN called ageism, ‘an insidious scourge on society’ which leads to poorer health, social isolation, earlier deaths and costs billions. They also revealed a frightening statistic – that half of the world’s population is agist.
So how do we change attitudes towards aging?
The media for a start. Metaphors such as “grey tsunami”, “demographic cliff” and “demographic timebomb” must go. As should the stereotypical depictions of the elderly as “villains,” unfairly consuming too many of society’s resources.
The UN suggests policies and laws that address ageism, educational activities that enhance empathy and intergenerational activities that reduce prejudice.
Of course, this high-level policy making has a place, but for me, campaigners, politicians and policy makers are missing a trick. If we’re to combat ageism we need to start with individuals. We need to change the hearts and the minds of us baby boomers. We need to believe that we are still worth it. That we do still have something to give and that we’re not inferior.
So, Benny, Bjorn, Anni-Frid and Agnetha please, please, please stop saying you’ve “done as good as you can at your age.” Age does not come into it. Talent does.
When all is said and done, in my opinion, you’re as good as new. And thank you, once again, for the music!
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