Sunday, April 17, 2011

Tracey Jackson's "Between a Rock and a Hot Place"

A screenwriter for seventeen years, Tracey Jackson has written and sold films to all the major studios. Her most recent writing credits include Confessions of a Shopaholic and Lucky Ducks, a feature-length documentary that she also produced and directed.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Between a Rock and a Hot Place: Why Fifty Is Not the New Thirty, and reported the following:
I was quite startled when I opened my book to page 99 and realized that it indeed encapsulates one of the main points I am trying to make. The book deals with the mythology Boomers have perpetuated that “fifty is the new thirty.” While many people do not like to hear it, the fact is we are fifty, we are not thirty, and with fifty comes a myriad of life changing and often times challenging experiences that we did not have to face in our fourth decade.

The other big point I try to make and the one that page 99 seems to represent is in regards to the mixed signals we receive from society. Fifty, while not the fifty of yesteryear, is still considered, if not old, at least on the way to old age. And not only are we telling ourselves and each other that we aren’t growing older (forget better), we are even claiming that we are actually growing younger. Yet the media is constantly reinforcing that we are in fact “elderly”, and so we are marketed to accordingly.

Since the book is humorous, I use page 99 to compare the commercials of my youth to the commercials of today. And in doing this I make the point that in the eyes of marketers and manufacturers the only things they are now willing to sell us, or think we need, are meds.
I can’t remember a time when there were ads for so many prescription medications, especially those with dastardly side effects. I remember “Charlie says, ‘Love my Good & Plenty,’ ” not “All around the world, men with ED have taken thirty-six-hour Cialis.”

Then there was “Two times the flavor, two times the fun, Doublemint, Doublemint, Doublemint gum.” A hell of lot catchier and more uplifting than “Another heart attack could be lurking.”

How about “Does she or doesn’t she?” for Clairol hair color, as opposed to “Depression hurts” for Cymbalta.
This comparison truly sums up the reality of what being fifty today means. We are not being sold washing machines, sneakers, or cars, despite the fact Boomers control the majority of wealth in America. We are being sold prescription medication, and that is pretty much it.

We may think that because we wear jeans and have an iPod we have somehow turned back the clock. But, while these meds do in fact keep us alive longer and, depending on the side effects, healthier, we are not getting younger—we are getting older. And if we ever doubt it, all we have to do is turn on the TV to remind us.
Learn more about Between A Rock and a Hot Place and its author at Tracey Jackson's website.

--Marshal Zeringue