Thursday, October 22, 2009

Top Chef Ageism

Robin Leventhal of Top Chef, photo by Michael Nank, from the Queen Anne Farmers Market. If this woman can be derisively called "grandma" by her fellow contestants, there is truly no hope for the rest of us.

After all the online gnashing of teeth, gah! I don't wanna think about ageism ANY MORE. I AM THROUGH.

So, time to watch our favorite food-porn. I turned on the TV last night for some simple, feel-good escapism. Yes, I wanted lingering, yummy pan-shots of attractive plates of foods I've never heard of, with sprigs of fennel festooned every which-way. NO RACHEL MADDOW! NO POLITICS! NO AFGHANISTAN AND NO MARK SANFORD!


Dream on, grandma. Dream on.

My beloved Top Chef, which I have been bloody loyal to for 6 seasons, is now engaging in some blatant, nasty, ageist fun and games against contestant Robin Leventhal, whom the other contestants call "grandma" and like to trash-talk about being too old and not fitting in. In one scene I saw last night, several piggy-male contestants argued over who had been meaner to Robin. "Grandma needs to leave!" they all agreed.

By the way, did I tell you? Robin Leventhal is 42 years old. Forty-Two. 42.

Do you believe this?

Under the circumstances, all I could think is: Oh man, not here too. (((cries)))

When did cooking get to be the kids' territory? I mean, I do understand why fashion is; there is a constant search for the new, the upcoming, the next big thing. But cooking? I would think that age would bring much-needed expertise and valuable, crucial experience. The best cooks I have known have been doing it for decades and decades.

Well, I guess this show doesn't have anything to do with the FACTS, this is reality TV. And they can't use outright sexism and racism anymore, as they did on the MTV's prototypical reality show, THE REAL WORLD, and as they are perilously close to doing on the Real Housewives franchise, with NeNe and Kim close to brawling. And come to think of it, they DO love to trash the fat people at every available opportunity.

So, let's stir up some shit by trashing GRANNY. The um, 42-year-old "granny"--that is. What on earth would they do with a REAL granny?

Depressing, just very depressing.

I'll just go back to obsessing over Afghanistan.


Rootietoot said...

feh. Consider the source. They're purile, pap-sucking infants with the imagination of low-country slugs. We *all* know (well, anyone who's worth the air they breathe) that life begins at 40. The way our culture worships youth is pathetic, and silly, and (other imprecations). Frankly, I love my grey hair, crow's feet, and 30 yr old fashions. Phooey on them, one day they'll wake up old and wonder why kids pick on them.

WV says 'punessid'. My feelings exactly.

Rootietoot said...

and another thing...these shows, whether it's cooking, or fashion, or whatever, aren't about good recipes and mad skills, they're about who can be the most cleverly nasty, who has the quickest or wittiest put-down. Our pop culture today isn't about nice, or the current 'ism', it's about clawing your way to the top and everyone else be damned. It's precisely why I don't watch these skill-type shows.

Rachel said...

I hope those kids' actual grannies are watching, and they get a good swift kick in the ass when they get home...

TROLL Y2K said...

Judging from your bizarro "about me" we prolly wouldn't agree on much. But I certainly agree that Bravo's producers are BLATANTLY and crassly ageist.

It's patently obvious that the producers set her up for this abuse and goad the "kiddie" chefs into trashing her. 3 of whom are in their 30s.

Dave Dubya said...

Thank God for Paula Dean! I think she's HOT!

Now where did I put my glasses?

Oh, yes, over there by my medication.

Aint life grand?

Daisy said...

It made me mad to see her disrespected like that. I'm glad she stood up for herself. And her pear tart thingy looked delicious.

Renee said...

I am not a regular watcher if this but I must say that I am not surprised. This is after all the foodnetwork we are talking about and they have never been known to be big on inclusiveness. They seem to want certain people to disappear and this is clear from the chefs they choose to promote

white rabbit said...

Derisively called Grandma?

I wouldn't mess with her - even without the chopping blade in her hand!


La Lubu said...

I want to see the push-up contest. Who can do the most pushups while waiting for their dish to simmer. "Grandma" would kick all their asses. She could probably do 100 pushups with Tom Colicchio standing on her back.

K.C. Jones said...

When my brother became a naval aviator, the one woman in his class, was called "Nana" like an endearing term for a grandma. Gag me!

greg said...

Rootietoot, how is Kevin nasty or mean? He trues to be nice to everyone, or just doesn't say anything at all, and his cooking looks divine. He is probably going to win the whole thing.
It is obvious that no one likes Robin on the show. They don't think she deserves to be here, and when she won a quick fire challenge, Eli was all like, she won because she gave them a cancer sob story. I think they need to back off her age. Her cooking is mediocre, she babbles on and on about nothing in particular, and in the end the show will choose the best chef, hopefully Kevin, aka Beardo.

Hattie said...

Speaking as a grandma, this reminds me of why I don't own a television.

Renegade Evolution said...

She looks badass, I wouldn't want her mad at me.

For the most part, I hate reality shows, thou I admit I am partial to Survivor. There is a lot of ageism on there too, what with the young folk thinking they are more phyiscally fit and all.....but every couple seasons, some one over 40 puts them all in the dirt. The best ever was Yao Man. He kicked whippersnapper ass all over the island.

Dina said...

That is depressing. I think you make a good point. Once one kind of prejudice becomes unfashionable, people find yet another target.

Eliz said...

I want to point out a few things-
When someone is annoying, you insult them with the most basic obvious insult. If it were the 25 year old, they would be calling him a baby. It has nothing to do with ageism- They are upset because chefs that they feel had more abilities have gone home.
If Robin was kicking butt at cooking, they would be respecting her- Mike Voltaggio is a big jerk 1/2 the time and no one says boo to him because he is a good chef. Hector was 41, Laurine was 38, and Ron was 40, none of these people were made fun of for their age. Most of the chef are in their 30's.

Also her age is listed as 43- Tom Colicchio is 45. She seems much closer to 50 than 43, and someone has obviously picked up on the fact that she is sensitive about it.

DaisyDeadhead said...

Eliz, when you insult someone using age as the insult, it is called ageism--period. Too young, too old, "baby", "grandma"--whatever it is. Using age as the basis of insult is AGEIST. Period. Full stop.

Robin is sensitive about the ageism, not her age. And it doesn't matter WHAT her age is. The fact that you think you know how old she "looks"--and excuse the ageism on account of this? Is pretty shitty.

Commenting negatively on someone's age in the workplace is sufficient for an EEOC greivance, so I hope you don't engage in this kind of behavior on your job.