Featured Essays

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Old Ladies with Spunk – A Love Letter to Betty White

Old Ladies with Spunk – A Love Letter to Betty White

Dear Betty White,

I was not part of the Facebook campaign. I was not part of the movement that pushed you to a hosting gig on Saturday Day Live. Regrettably, being part of the ignorant and self-absorbed generation, I was not aware of your presence or your legacy until recent times. I have caught glimpses of you though - you were the scene stealer in The Proposal, you starred in that Super Bowl commercial which became a viral classic, and you popped up here or there with a guest role in numerous sitcoms. Of course, this was the same Betty White who starred in The Mary Tyler Show and The Golden Girls, so the comedy genre had always been your forte.

A Love Letter to Betty White
Dare I say that 2010 is the year of Betty White? Whether you are Hot in Cleveland, or dancing dirty with Jon Hamm during the Emmy Awards, or insulting Facebook users worldwide on Saturday Night Live, it is clear that the public loves your humour, the Internet admires your spunk, and the media just can’t get enough of you. You’re writing two memoirs. You have a saucy 2011 calendar coming out. You are probably getting movie offers and television guest gigs left and right. There is even a Betty White clothing line (of hoodies), I kid you not.

At 88 years old, Betty White is not the first popular senior entertainer in the industry, but how many aging stars have been celebrated to this extent? We parade her from show to show, we laugh at her bawdy jokes, and we treasure her like she is America’s Sweetheart. The upsurge in her popularity is quite astonishing, since a celebrity past his or her prime tends to be overlooked until their sad but inevitable eulogy, followed by the in memoriam montage during awards shows. Fortunately, Betty White is still alive and kicking, and one can argue that the busy actress is still very much in her prime.

The Betty White mania does not seem to be slowing down any time soon. However, fame is fickle and fleeting; and like all popular icons, I have started to witness some backlash against Betty White. People are getting tired of her grinning mug, tired of her geriatric sex jokes, and tired of the relentlessness in promoting her across the media. In their opinion, she is overexposed, overrated, and overused. She is preferable in small doses - the one Saturday night hosting gig was a triumph for the Internet - but the naysayers are wondering when she will exit the stage and leave the limelight.

When will people get tired of Betty White?