Think of Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, Leonardo Di Caprio, Matt Damon and a few others who have made it to the top in Hollywood in the past decade and what descriptive words pass through your mind, assuming you’re not a pubescent female? Juvenile? Weedy? Androgynous? Certainly, looking at the films of the first three named above, it is striking how much prettier they were when starting out than their leading ladies on the screen. Other Oscar winners like George Clooney and Denzel Washington might best be described as bland — I’m comparing them to their earlier equivalents, say Clark Gable and Sidney Poitier respectively.
And for all the gay innuendo passed off today about late-Thirties ‘pretty boys’ Robert Taylor and Tyrone Power, they were still willing to take the weight of the world on their shoulders when the time came — in a World War. War turned them middle-aged before their time. But think about it… At the age of 42, as Brad Pitt goes around wearing his cap backwards like a street kid — and is the breeding stock of choice for probably millions of women today — Clark Gable was fighting the good fight in daylight raids over Germany, risking his life daily as a tail gunner.
As a general rule these days, young people take on less and less personal responsibility. Today I watched the Dr Phil show as he repeatedly berated a young man who in his early twenties had succumbed to deliberate sexual exhibitionism by a 15-year-old who came on to him. Dr Phil, a psychologist, again and again beat the young man up with The Law, purposefully ignoring his guest’s psychology to paint him as the bad guy. In his own defense this army veteran pleaded that he had experienced the war in Afghanistan and Iraq and as a stress coper became addicted to pornography, which gave way to sex addiction. Phil McGraw’s argumentative reply was “Are you qualified to make that diagnosis?”
Well, Phil is actually older than me, but I can’t help but think that for a good ole Oklahoma boy who pulled himself up by his bootstraps and has 30 years’ experience as a psychologist, he has seen very little of real life — or takes his own books too seriously. The first clue that would have occurred to most people is “war casualty”. Not Dr Phil. My grandmother, who was raised not very far from Oklahoma, was married and had a child by fifteen and a half. As were a lot of people in those days, she was ready and willing to take on full adult responsibilities. In contrast, Phil McGraw, admittedly to suit his purpose, kept referring to this 15-year-old girl in question as a “child”, when she might just as easily be a mother.
And, don’t forget, when it suits The Law, it is quite capable of treating 15-year-olds and younger as “adult offenders”. This must have slipped Phil’s mind.