movies / music / reading / tv shows / writing

Too old?

I’m 34 1/2 years old. Yes, I include the half because it still matters to me. 34…isn’t what I’d call old by any means, but it definitely isn’t young. Not by society standards, and certainly not to those who are younger. For a lot of our society, turning 30 (especially as a woman for whatever reason) is a big deal. My 30th was a huge disappointment (The weekend prior was good as a friend came to visit, but the actual day was rather ho hum). I’ve always felt weirdly torn about my age. One, I recognize that turning 30 and beyond is ‘getting up there’ as far as not having the same opportunities and options for life as I did when I was a decade younger. Also, that being over 30 as a single woman, in some sub-cultures of our country, can appear as a failed life. On the other hand, the 30s are great. Still young and healthy (mostly) and I’m a lot wiser than I was in my 20s, so my decisions are better, while still having fun. My age is both good and bad, but I like it for the most part. And yet, I still feel like I’m faking being an adult.

Case in point: I’m about to rewatch Teen Beach Movie 2.

There, I said it. I really like the Disney channel (well, elements of it) and actually watch the shows from time to time. The most recent watchings include the above movie, Austin & Ally, and the now completed Jonas (which I did watch some of when it aired).

Yep. I’m 34 1/2 and I own all three High School Musicals (and the soundtracks). My students don’t seem to find this all that wrong as with HSM, because it’s a part of their childhood and they sometimes forget that I’m a lot older than they are. My sixth period last year often broke out into a rendition of “Breaking Free” (first HSM if you live under a rock) which I could have joined in on (I resisted). I even dragged my friends (who are my age) to the theater to see HSM3 in the first weekend of its release. What good friends they are.

I discovered Lemonade Mouth (2011) last year I believe and bought both the DVD and the soundtrack (which I regularly listen to).

I tried to watch Teen Beach Movie when it came out two years ago, but for some reason I wasn’t getting into it, so it was months later that I watched again and enjoyed it. My love for the franchise solidified with the sequel that just came out. And my most recent amazon purchase includes both films. Yep.

Disney Channel, both shows and original movies, is extremely cheesy. I won’t deny that. The storylines, the singing, the acting is all Grade A cheese. I enjoy cheesiness. I own both seasons of The Monkees from the late 60s which was ridiculous, but I love it. The reason I started watching Jonas was due to the similarity to The Monkees (famous band, outrageous situations, music), although I don’t really dig the songs that the Jonas brothers come up with. I do enjoy the bubble-gum pop of Austin & Ally. The humor on it is predictable. The set-up and the punchline, I can see coming from miles away. It doesn’t seem to matter to me. I still laugh and smile through an entire episode. The dancing/performances are also super fun and all of these elements tie together to show the themes of friendship, loyalty and following your dream.

You’re probably wondering what the point of this post is, right? Or if Disney Channel is paying me to promote them (yeah, I wish)?

My question is if I should be ashamed of these so-called guilty pleasures? Or more specifically, should I be concerned with myself that I still enjoy things that are geared toward pre-teens and teens? Am I trying to hold on to my younger self and life? Am I actually 34 1/2 or is that fake too? 🙂

I’ve always been an odd duck. I saw my family this summer and we chatted about how I was almost held back in pre-school. A January baby, it had nothing to do with my numerical age, or even my intelligence. Socially I was, am I little behind. Maybe ‘socially’ isn’t the word. Otherworldly. Nope. That sounds like I’m an alien. Outside-worldly. I didn’t/don’t seem to concern myself with what my peers focus on. I never was held back, by my choice, because I didn’t want to be the ‘old’ kid in the class. But even now, I often feel out of place with those my own age because I’m the one who just watched all 3 1/2 seasons of a Disney Channel show.

I write YA novels, primarily. (I only have one published, but there are others, both complete and incomplete, and most are that target audience). It could be argued that my consuming of entertainment for younger ages is part of my research and process. I’d like to say that is true, but it’s more that my writing for teens came out of my enjoyment of younger movies, books, and television shows.

During the school year, I spend a lot of time with teenagers. Both in the classroom and in the theatre. I love talking with my students. My conversations with them can range from fluffy to profound. Some of my students are so wise that I can forget they aren’t adults. I’m going to see Paper Towns with two students tomorrow evening because I was told/asked that they wanted to see it with me. And I’m excited because I loved the book and hope the movie is just as awesome, and I get to watch with students who love the book as much as I do. I even look forward to the discussion afterwards about the movie.

Am I not mature? Am I a sad excuse for a 34 1/2 year old?

I’ve been pondering this for a long time, off and on since I realized that I was too old for The Boxcar Children and The Babysitters Club (about 14 years old I think). And maybe others will see this as a defect in me. That I don’t enjoy more mature things.

But I do. Not everything, as there are some movies, books, shows that I just don’t want to be a part of (content, violence, language, type of humor, etc.). My movie collection includes HSM and sequels, but also has a few Shakespeare movies, Marvel movies, and two French films. It’s a pretty eclectic mix, same as my books and music choices. I used to make a point of watching all the movies nominated for Best Picture, or feel guilty if I hadn’t. But I decided that I’d watch what I wanted and what I thought I’d enjoy instead. If it happens to be nominated for something, then that’s a bonus.

So, in conclusion, I’m okay that I like ‘childish’ things. That maybe my sense of humor isn’t very complex (the jokes on Teen Beach Movie are way more enjoyable than the humor in Austin Powers). That I might bust out singing “Breaking Free” along with my students. Rated G & PG makes me happy (go see Inside Out if you haven’t yet) and in the midst of an adult life that is filled with bills, responsibilities and questions; a little happy is nice.

I forgot to mention on that DVD shelf, there’s also a Veggietales Singalong. 😉

(for your youthful watching pleasure)

One thought on “Too old?

  1. While I don’t share your affinity for Disney movies, I don’t think maturity is measured by your actions and outlook, not necessarily by the books, television, movies one enjoys. I still love G.I. Joe and He-Man, and I regularly find myself humming the Thundercats theme song. For my mom’s birthday, we all took her to see the summer movie she was most excited about . . . Minions. I’m also really excited to hear you and some students are going to see “Paper Towns”, because having just read that book, I think some of my friends from high school would still be friends if they too had read it, In short, I don’t think cheesy cartoons and Disney channel programming are necessarily “childish things”, not when adults are perfectly capable of still being childish all on their own. Remember what is written in Matthew 18:3: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

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