It became obvious in 1996, when CBS dropped an enormously popular show, "Murder, She Wrote", because it attracted the wrong audience, i.e. mature people, who, presumably, know their own minds and are not susceptible to advertisers' inflated claims. One might even conclude that CBS and the other networks are trying to kill off their mature audiences by converting their evening newscasts into messaging platforms for pharmaceutical companies. Ad after ad for prescription drugs that showcase smiling, happy elders, encouraging them to "ask your doctor" about one questionable concoction or other as an anonymous voice drones on and on about the litany of medical horrors a drug might induce, including death, if taken.
Network TV was designed to be sponsor-driven but the same cannot be said of the fine arts. Yet these days the quest for the holy grail, the 18-49 age group, is manifest in theater, symphony orchestras, and, most tellingly, in opera.
Plays, instead of having three acts, two intermissions and filling an evening, are frequently 90-minute affairs, geared to the attention-deficit afflicted. The over-amplification at many Broadway musicals brings into question the stereotype of the "old geezer with an ear trumpet." Rather, it's the boom-box babies who are hearing impaired, and their needs are being met to the exclusion of the hearing-intact older generation.
Symphony orchestras have beaconed the young with slashed-price tickets, largely to little avail, because the young can't/won't sit still for a concert, preferring to download the music on their iPhones, never mind the loss of sonorities and the richness of the ensembles.
Peter Gelb, the general manager of the Metropolitan Opera, must have heeded the general in Vietnam who explained that we had to destroy a town in order to save it. In his much publicized quest for the golden fleece, Gelb has been destroying opera in New York, allegedly in order to save it. Why those new to opera would be more attracted to a stark, minimalist "La Traviata", re-set in the 20th century when the opera's two themes ceased to be relevant - TB is no longer a death sentence, it can be cured - and when the heir to the throne of Norway could marry a woman with an illegitimate child and a police record for drug use with nobody raising an eyebrow, who would call off a wedding because the bride-to-be's brother was involved with an "immoral" woman? For this new production, as stupid as it is ugly, the lavish, period-correct Zeffirelli production was trashed. (Zeffirelli's beautiful work was dropped for the current abomination even as was his elegant "Tosca" all the while Peter Gelb was crying poverty.)
Intermissions have been limited. "Orfeo ed Eurydice" had none, and arguably the most beautiful music in it, The Dance of the Blessed Spirits, was cut. The merging of acts and elimination of intermissions is especially hard on the Met's core supporters, people in their golden years, who cannot go for hours without using a rest room. But their needs are disregarded.
Trying to find a restaurant in which the decibel level is sufficiently low as to allow normal conversation is daunting. As restaurateurs cater to the desires of the hearing-impaired generation, those whose hearing is intact, largely the mature, suffer assaults on their ear drums.
The obituary of John Burr Fairchild, former head of what had been a publishing empire, brought it all together. Each of his elegant ladies as well as Truman Capote's "swans" - Babe Paley, Slim Keith, CZ Guest, Gloria Guinness, Marella Agnelli - was une femme d'un certain âge, but not to be dismissed, rather to be respected and admired.
How has it come to be that the pandering to the disco-deafened has caused the dissing of the Silent Generation?