By: Grace Kennedy

Ageism against seniors is an increasingly concealed issue in Canada. As university students surrounded by a majority of young adults, it is remarkably easy to get caught up in the culture of youth.

For many of us, our interactions with seniors are characterized by the time we spend helping care for our grandparents, parents, or friends in old age. Old age as a life stage is underrepresented in popular media and entertainment, including in journalism.

The harms of discriminating against seniors extend beyond the obvious demographic. There is evidence that young adults are increasingly burdened by our society’s lack of accessibility and attention to old age. A current Stats Canada report found that 27 percent of young Canadians provide care for persons in old age facing struggles with aging needs, disability or long-term health issues. The duty to provide care was found to adversely affect studies and employment, as well as increase psychological stresses such worry and anxiety.

We may enjoy providing care for important people in our lives, but these situations are challenging and complicate our lives in a time when we many of us are trying to get our own ducks in a row. We often feel that we can’t say “no” to helping out, and in many instances the people we care for would face adverse circumstances if we weren’t there to help.

As youth, we don’t give much attention to topics such as pensions and other old age benefits. It seems unnecessary to inform ourselves about these things when they seem part of a distant future, but they are realities that affect us now because they affect our grandparents and parents. In 2023, the Old Age Security benefit in Canada will increase the age requirement to 67.

Furthermore, the amount of attention the word “pension” gets in politics and in the media would have most of us believe it’s a lottery we receive every month once we hit senior citizenship. It’s not. Roughly speaking, if you meet the maximum earning contribution mark of approximately $55,000, you will receive just over $1,000 per month from the Canadian Pension Plan, and if you have lived in Canada for at least 40 years after turning 18, an OAS benefit of just over $500 per month. This really sets the tone for how we think about the possible financial challenges for seniors in our lives and people in old age overall.

If persons in old age had better financial security and accessible services, many youth would not be faced with the challenge of providing care. Transportation, meal services, and additional healthcare expenses would be things that we wouldn’t need to worry about if they existed as affordable and accessible services.

Our attitudes and culture plays a huge role in all this. We often forget, whether we are in favour of the welfare state or not, that old age is an immutable stage in life. The challenges that come with old age bring threats to our autonomy and an increased need to pay for service. The beauty of talking about old age is that we can all be advocates because it’s an expected life course; it’s on the itinerary. 

How can we be more inclusive of old age outside our family members and friends?

Our attitudes may not show or seem to affect the seniors in our lives, but outside of these relationships, there is no doubt that the general public is filled with discrimination and stigma.

It is estimated that by 2050, 25 per cent of Canadians will be seniors. A survey paid for by Revera, a provider of retirement homes and long-term care, found that many of the stigmas associated with old age including incompetence and “having nothing to contribute” run counter to the fact that seniors are more likely than any age group to say that “age is just a number.”

This speaks to the importance of valuing our minds. The word “old” can really only refer to physical traits, and isn’t a reflection of intelligence. Wisdom and experience are the true judgments of aging.

Shane Madill
The Silhouette

Pusha T’s My Name is My Name and Danny Brown’s Old should be your front-runners for hip-hop album of the year. It is honestly that simple. Contrasting both, however, provides perspective on two entirely different experiences and styles that operate on opposing sides of the hip hop spectrum.

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Pusha T’s My Name Is My Name is classic hip hop lyricism with modern production. He balances being faithful to the streets that raised him and his new found prosperity, a classic dichotomy for rappers. These themes are further supplemented by the production from a more established tier of artists, primarily Kanye West and Pharrell Williams.

Pusha T raps about his place in the music scene and how this is his time to rise up to greatness. He raps about women and, more often than not, with surprising emotional sincerity. He raps about pushing drugs to get by in the streets and how these drugs affect strangers and friends. Though these are all relatively common themes in hip hop, the overall polish of his craft and the production leave this album achieving relative greatness.

Danny Brown’s Old, however, combines alternative lyricism with alternative production. XXX, his previous mixtape, was essentially about his personal experiences with hardcore drugs and his realizations about what these seemingly positive experiences were actually doing to him.

Old represents the relapse and breakdown of Danny Brown into the person he used to be. The escapism that drugs provide from his struggles, such as near-suicidal depression, takes control and consumes him. Unlike the beginning of XXX, he is fully aware of the consequences of taking these drugs, but does not care because the benefit of temporarily forgetting his experiences keeps him in the vicious cycle of dependency. It is a harrowing experience to hear him speak from his heart about all of his conflicting emotions and experiences. Fear, depression and pain are the core of this album, though they are masked under the veil of drugs and the resulting trip.

The contrast between these two albums demonstrates how hip hop can achieve greatness through multiple approaches, and how the genre allows for a wide variety of stories to be represented. If you are just a casual fan of hip-hop, the recommendation is that you experience and attempt to internalize both of these albums.

4.5/5 each

Justin Raudys / The Silhouette

In my experience, the exclamation that “music has gotten worse” is one that polarizes opinion: either it is met with dismissive eye rolling or it inspires enthusiastic agreement.

My own music collection – and most people’s, for that matter – is populated by music from many ages.

Rock and roll from the early ‘60s sits side by side with indie rock from the early 2000s; hip hop from the late 80s sits side by side with blues from the late 50s; Stevie Wonder sits next to Sufjan Stevens, Wilco next to Wu-Tang Clan, Bach next to Bachman Turner Overdrive.

Most of us do not discriminate our sonic tastes to a particular span of time or a particular genre. But even though I own plenty of music from recent times, I can’t help but notice the lingering sensation as I scroll through my collection that music has actually gotten worse. But hear me out before you dismiss me as a pompous ass. Let’s take a small trip back in time.

Let’s rewind to the year 1970, the beginning of a decade often earmarked by people like me (people, that is, who believe that music – and especially Billboard top 100 music – has undergone a decline in quality) as a time of particular musical brilliance.

If you were alive in 1970, you would have heard new albums from — to name a few — The Beatles, Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Stevie Wonder, Cat Stevens, Miles Davis, Eric Clapton, Ray Charles, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Carlos Santana, The Velvet Underground and Led Zeppelin. All in the same year. This is to say nothing of the profusion of groundbreaking artists that blossomed throughout the rest of the decade. Now, I’m not saying there aren’t any artists of that quality or importance around today (and even that argument, I think, has a case), but I am saying that they are nowhere near as common.

It’s true that the question of aesthetic quality is a tricky one to navigate.

An old friend of mine whose taste in music I find questionable (and who provides a perfect example of this debate as he listens solely to amateur dubstep mashups) argues that the question of musical quality is entirely subjective.

And he has a point. If the list of names I just rung off above has no appeal to you then the debate, in some way – at least on an interpersonal level – is bound to end here: you don’t like that music and that’s your prerogative.

But I actually disagree that the endeavour of assessing the quality of music is forever doomed to be a fruitless one. I think you can, to a point, discriminate whether music is, to put it cheaply, “good” or not – even if it’s not to your taste. The idea that Britney Spears is, as an artist, on some kind of irreducible aesthetic plane that renders her equal to Aretha Franklin is one that I simply can’t accept, nor is it one that I find philosophically viable. I’m not one to put people down for liking Britney. If her music inspires you and makes you feel good, only a jackass could tell you you’re wrong for listening to it. But I’m not saying you’d be wrong for doing so.

My theory is that the billboard used to be a magnet for finding the artists who are most talented and that now it’s become a magnet for finding the “artists” who are most marketable. I’ve been accused of having my tastes coloured by a romanticizing nostalgia à la Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris – that, in other words, the music of the ‘70s only looks – or sounds – better to me through the lens of modernity. That might seem reasonable to me if only I could accept the notion that posterity will rank Minaj, Bieber, Swift, and Spears in the same echelon as Dylan, Lennon, Coltrane, and Hendrix.

“You may say I’m a dreamer / but I’m not the only one / I hope some day you’ll join us / And the world will live as one” sings John Lennon in “Imagine,” an inspiring and truly moving plea for global human harmony, the chart topper back in ’71.

“In time, ink lines, bitches couldn’t get on my incline” sings Nicki Minaj about her own brilliance in the hit song “Beauty and a Beat,” continuing, “World tours, it’s mine, 10 little letters, on a big sign.”

You may say I’m wrong about the top 10. In fact, you may say I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one.

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