Aging With Grace: 5 Stars Who Brilliantly Avoided Fading
“I’d rather be dead than sing ‘Satisfaction’ when I’m forty-five” Mick Jagger, then 32, now 75, once said. He, like the many music fans who haven’t batted an eye for 2018 albums from Eminem, MGMT, or Smashing Pumpkins — all who held an absolutely central position in the cultural zeitgeist at one point or another — recognized that music is a young man’s game. It’s the language of passion, sex, rage, and sticking it to the man. As our favorite musicians age, whether they continue to release music at consistent quality (Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Red Hot Chili Peppers) or not (Bruce Springsteen, Jack White, Green Day), they lose their natural associations with these elements and we lose interest in them.
The phenomenon holds fast for the entertainment industry in general. Mission Impossible 6 was actually reviewed more positively than any previous installment in the Tom Cruise series, but we don’t see that 56-year old face on quite as many posters and magazine covers as back in the day. Will Ferrell, now 51, has fared decently at theaters over the years; but I certainly haven’t seen as many Halloween costumes from Get Hard, The House, or Holmes & Watson as I did in the Anchorman and Ricky Bobby days. Maybe I’m the one getting old. To be fair, I haven’t been trick-or-treating in a while.
Now if you are a young, beautiful, and beloved celebrity reading this, don’t worry yet! There are a number of stars who have navigated mortality’s storm skillfully enough to not have it sink their careers. Careful identity adaptation, increased genuinity, and artful subtlety seem to be key. What worked for these five could work for you, Timothée Chalamet.
1. Quincy Jones
In the late 50s and the 60s Quincy Jones was a road warrior of the jazz scene, playing with everyone from Ella Fitzgerald to Miles Davis and eventually earning respect enough to be first in line for projects like the Roots soundtrack. By the 80s though, jazz music was something your grandfather listened to; for the kids there was an endless cassette reel of dreadful hair metal and workout pop. It was a historically shitty music era, and Quincy Jones wasn’t alright with that. He put his own instruments aside and re-established himself at the forefront as a production mogul, shepherding child star Michael Jackson into a few record-breaking projects now known as Thriller and Bad. To this day, we hail the King of Pop. Just don’t forget his first court counsel, who was a prince of jazz himself.
2. Bill Murray
Screwball comedy dominance (SNL, Caddyshack, Stripes, Ghostbusters) is unsustainable as antics are inherently identified with sophmorism. Right as Bill Murray approached that cutoff point there were filmmakers at the ready with ideas for harvesting his brilliant charm. Wes Anderson, Sofia Coppola, Harold Ramis, Tim Burton, and even whoever made Space Jam provided Murray with refreshed roles which fomented melancholy and deadpan in the place of slacker smirkiness. Today, he has reached near-legend status. We may very well see a third act.
3. Johnny Cash
American IV: The Man Comes Around was Johnny Cash’s 87th studio album. Part four of a now-legendary six part collaboration with Rick Rubin — this is the one that first garnered attention. Un-ausgespielt, Cash had the artistic wit and cultural sensibility to cover Nine Inch Nails, a group whose debut album had come out three decades after his and whose sound was nowhere close. It was a rare successful demonstration of not having lost touch (vs, say, Paul McCartney’s Rihanna/Kanye West collaboration) that sent digital era listeners into a glorious wormhole of the awesome music Johnny Cash was still cranking out in his late sixties.
4. Sally Field
Last year Timothée Chalamet became the third-youngest Oscar Best Actor nominee in history at 22. In the female category he would have barely cracked the top 10 — falling below Jennifer Lawrence, Keira Knightley, Ellen Page, and Saoirse Ronan — all who, while undoubtedly pleased with their success, realize that Hollywood celebrates women for their beauty as much as for their talent, and that this will require them to contest with age in a way Chalamet will never have to. Also nominated in 2018 was Sally Field as the aforementioned Ronan’s mother in Lady Bird. A traditional Hollywood dame from 70s flicks like Smokey and the Bandit and a Poseidon sequel, Field has pivoted strategically and honed her talent over the years, gender biases be damned, to the extent that it looks like her best days could still be ahead of her. She’s a master of the strong women role — mother, first lady, matriarch — and has two Oscars to show for it.
5. Andre 3000
There may not be a discipline more exemplifying of this article’s thesis than rap. Perennially wild & reckless, violent & rebellious, it is the dominant genre of American youth today. No youth at 43, Outkast’s Andre 3000 has masterfully avoided both growing into some sort of corny television celebrity (Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube) and not growing up at all (2Pac, Eazy-E). Selective with his talent and image almost to a fault — He has never released a solo album to the chagrin of many rap fans) — Andre 3000’s current form is that of philosopher king, his occasional feature on Frank Ocean or Future like a rare consultation from a wise oracle.
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