Recently I did an interview with social commentator Peter York in which I asked whether young people are becoming more prudish, seeing as they are drinking less and wearing more conservative swimwear on the beach.
And that made me think: are the older generation the not-so-prudish ones?
Research in England and Wales shows that the number of over-60s getting divorced is rising; the opposite of what is happening with other age groups. This is partly down to a loss of stigma over being divorced and financial emancipation for women. I have a feeling this statistic is spreading to other countries as well. The over-60s are looking for new love and the idea of settling down when you are older is disappearing.
Look at the media landscape. Before, people were fascinated by youth – by the James Deans of this world. Now it’s all about a more mature sex appeal. If you look at who’s doing well in Hollywood you’ll see that the majority of stars are over 40, from Daniel Craig to Sandra Bullock. There aren’t many 20-year-olds with as much box office appeal as a more established star.
I recently saw the wonderful film La Grande Bellezza by Paolo Sorrentino (a sort of revisited La Dolce Vita, the classic 1960s film by Federico Fellini). The opening scene is a wild party with lots of people dancing and sipping cocktails to the sound of glassy electropop in the background, against the backdrop of a beautiful view of Rome. And they were all far from being spring chickens. The main character is Jep, who is celebrating his 65th birthday at the party. Played by the excellent Toni Servillo, Jep is one of the most celebrated bon vivants in Rome.
We are not talking solely about movies here. When I go back home to Brazil, it strikes me how democratic the beaches are. You can see fit 70-year-olds running shirtless in Ipanema and hardly anyone notices. This is an inspiring and uplifting image. Recently in the Brazilian press, actress Betty Faria dared to wear a bikini on the beach in Rio. The fact that she is 72 years old did not make her hide anything, and in an interview she talked about "not following the rules". Good on her.
It is an interesting shift in society; now the kids might have to control their parents. I can certainly say that my parents’ love life sometimes sounds more exciting than my own. So, maybe the next time you throw a party, you should follow the trend: young people are not allowed.
Fernando Augusto Pacheco is a researcher for Monocle 24.