Screenwriting, Film-Making and Web TV
I was on my way to San Jose to start up my weekly filmmaking collective at Studio Bongiorno. The kids were with me and the sun was setting.
As we bounded along, I began thinking about some of the work that the collective is doing. We have several scripts in the files, waiting to be picked up by interested producers and directors.
Two of these in particular have already gained some traction, with one having a producer, director and writer ready to map out a production schedule and the other gathering steam.
Interestingly, both of these stories are about older women and their relationships with their children and the world around them.
As I thought about them, I realized that what made both of these short films interesting was the connection they make with an audience.
In both films, the older woman is at a crisis point, having to deal with loss and loneliness, helplessness and issues of trust.
Then a word came to mind that surprised me: Angst.
We often think of angst in connection with teenagers. “Teen angst” is the common catch phrase.
But the word “angst” can apply to anyone at any point in their lives.
And in fact, the classic movies about kids with teen angst were made so long ago that the people who acted in them are now us – the older folks.
So I’d like to consider the possibility that there is a phenomenon that I will call “senior angst.”
It’s not that we have carried this angst along with us like a trailer behind a car.
Rather, it’s the angst that comes along with being jobless or underemployed, homeless or in less than ideal housing, alone or at least lonely, ill or vulnerable, watching hope and beauty slip away or at least seeing it snatched up by unappreciating younger people.
Senior angst. At what age?
I’d say it starts where age discrimination begins. Where younger hiring managers or bosses secretly smirk at your graying hair or your gimp walk, your three-page resume or that fact that Animal House was filmed on your college campus…while you were there.
Senior angst is that shell of vulnerability that slowly forms over your skin, connecting with it, replacing it, making you feel fragile in lonely moments, even if you are 200 pounds and have hands thickened with years of manual work.
Senior angst is that thing we all have in common now, even if we haven’t yet acknowledged its existence.
It’s pervasive, it’s everywhere, at every strata of society and in every town in America.
It’s magnified by the lack of jobs, health and dental care, money, family and friendship.
And unless you are among the richest people out there, it’s hit you hard. The last recession took away huge chunks of retirement funds, if not all of them, from most Americans. Medical costs and house payments, rent and gas expenses took much of the rest. With no discernible social service structure left, the outlook for many is bleak.
At the same time, we have a sense of disappointment with our own lives.
Many of us know that we didn’t live up to our own ideals in our working years. We didn’t save the world, we didn’t even save our own families. We thought we would be better than our parents and often, we were only just like them.
We tried desperately to do something meaningful or good but it seemed so inconsequential , especially in the face of monied interests that didn’t seem to care. From the time of the Exxon Mobile spill to the relentless, to the decimation of rainforests, to the accelerated fracking that is threatening the world our kids will live in, we know that we’ve been less-than-successful with out stewardship if this tiny blue dot.
Now, we’re subconsciously passing that angst back down to younger generations. And this is stressing them out.
The bottom line is that our angst is overtaking us and threatening to allienate successive generations. But it doesn’t have to.
We are better than that, many of us have succeeded in great accomplishments and there is much more that we can do. The world is not tired of us yet, not by a long shot. And, it’s never too late to do good or to createva legacy.
In my next post, I will talk a bit about how that is possible.