Baby Boomers: Is Hollywood anti-Senior?

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Baby Boomers: Is Hollywood anti-Senior?
By Ray Hanania

Have you noticed the pattern over the years in Hollywood? The movie companies are taking blockbusters and powerful icons from our past, like the Lone Ranger and Star Trek, and remaking them for today’s generation.

We should be flattered that great creative ideas that captured the imagination of the Baby Boomer Generation are being re-engineered for today’s audiences.

But we should also be concerned.

Here’s why.

Some might argue that we should be flattered that our great ideas are being celebrated today. But I think we should be concerned that today’s generation is relying almost entirely on our Baby Boomer creativity to fill the void in their own limited creative imaginations.

Get rid of all the massively violent films – like the three this year that involve the destruction of the White House and kidnapping of the president – and what you have left at the top of the pile are remakes of almost everything that we produced as Baby Boomers.

The Lone Ranger is just one. They’ve re-done Superman how many times? Star Wars moves forward by moving backwards. Star Trek is the same.

More insulting, though, is the trend of replacing these powerful character creations of the Baby Boomer age with younger versions. And that begs the question. What’s wrong with a Lone Ranger who is 75 years old? And why did we really lose Captain Kirk to a newer and younger actor? Because Kirk was incapable of action?

Isn’t that discriminatory against old people?

I think Superman doesn’t have to be a young person to be successful. Especially in Superman’s case where no matter what his age, he is invincible and “Faster than a speeding bullet; more powerful than a locomotive; able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.”

Superman is Superman. Yet, Hollywood continues to try and remake the super hero that captured the hearts and the imaginations of our generation and clearly has tugged at the imaginations of today’s generations, too.

But why do they have to keep reinventing Superman, or any of the other dozens of films from our generation that are redone. Is age that significant to a film’s success? In other words, is it significant to the film’s success that the main character be young? Why can’t they be senior citizens?

If anyone has proven the point that age doesn’t really matter, it is the septuagenarians of the Rolling Stones who continue to perform to sold out audiences around the world. I attended the Rolling Stones recent concert, “50 & Counting,” at the United Center earlier in June.

OK. Mick Jagger looked old. In his 70s. But the songs were phenomenal? Would it have better if they had found a “younger” Mick Jagger to perform the songs so that today’s generation would enjoy the music too. I think today’s generation was well represented at the concert tour and we don’t have to worry so much about age.

The recent Superman film “Man of Steel” steals everything from Superman’s powerful iconic existence, including the name “Man of Steel.” Have the producers of the recent film come up with anything new that a younger Superman could do better than an older Superman who represents Superman’s real age?

I am, Jesus. Superman would probably only be about 75 today. And we all hear and see the TV commercials and the Ads arguing that today’s babies will probably live to be, on average, in their early 100s!

Inflation has destroyed our economy. Today’s dollar is probably worth the same as 10 cents 50 years ago. We don’t have to destroy our images and successes with “character inflation.”

I think my point is important. Does maintaining the youth aspect of the main characters make the film remakes any better than they were or prevent them from being worse than before?

I don’t agree with that. I think there is nothing wrong with maintaining a sense of “reality” even in fiction like Superman, and keeping the original characters in the films. George Reeves, the original Superman, has died. And so did Christopher Reeves, the younger successor to the franchise who also died, sadly. But why not a Superman who is in his 70s?

Why not a Star Trek with Captain Kirk in his 70s, too?

I guess Hollywood argue that the characters who played those famous characters when they were younger, don’t want to do it any more. Maybe that was the case of William Shatner. But I remember when Hollywood did the first remake of the Lone Ranger, which flopped, and they were so mean to the original character in the film, Clayton Moore, who is my mind is and will be the ONLY Lone Ranger in this world.

In 1981, Hollywood did a 2nd remake of the Lone Ranger franchise called “The Legend of the Lone Ranger.” But instead of using the elderly Clayton Moore, they used a younger actor, Clinton Spilsbury whose lines were recited so badly they had to be redubbed by Stacy Keach.

I didn’t mind the film, although it was a major flop. But, I did get upset like everyone else when Clayton Moore was ordered by a court not to appear in public wearing the Lone Ranger mask.

What a disgrace! That act alone help torpedo the new film. But even with a younger character, it sucked.

I didn’t like it when Hollywood re-made the classic HG Wells movie “War of the Worlds,” replacing the main character, played by Gene Berry, with a new character, played by Tom Cruise. It wasn’t a swap of the actual heroines. The remake was similar but significantly different so it wasn’t like they took the Gene Berry character and replaced him with a younger actor.

At least they gave Gene Berry a cameo in the remake. He played the wife’s father who greeted Tom Cruise when he returned home after the aliens all died of microbe and bacteria infection.

We should be flattered that today’s generation wants to use our iconic characters for their own entertainment. It is flattering, of course. But what does it say about today’s generation that they don’t have their own Lone Rangers, Supermans, Batmans, Spidermans, Star Treks and War of the Worlds and so many more the list would be endless?

If you are going to use our toys, then use them the way they were invented, and be more respectful to the original characters who helped make all of these fictionalized characters so great and worthy of today’s remakes.”

(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist. Reach him at or follow him on Twitter at @RayHanania.)

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning political and humor columnist who analyzes American and Middle East politics, and life in general. He is an author of several books.

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at, and at, and at He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper,, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.

The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.

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Ray Hanania