Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Age of Heroes

Back when my oldest sister was in high school, she had a textbook called THE AGE OF HEROES, referring to the Greek myths.

That's not the sort of age I'm talking about.

I got the Sexiest Man Alive issue of PEOPLE'S magazine recently, and one of the things that struck me immediately was the age of several of the sexiest guys.

Hugh Jackman - 40
Brad Pitt - 44
Daiel Craig - 40
Patrick Dempsey - 42
Johnny Depp - 45
Will Smith - 40
Javier Bardem - 39
George Clooney - 47
Matthew McConaughey - 39

Of course there were several guys who were younger (and I really didn't need the whole scratch-n-sniff thing), but I couldn't help thinking they wouldn't show nearly as many mature women.

And with crow's feet and wrinkles.

Now, I like mature men, so I'm not saying the older guys shouldn't be there. It's the difference between how women are perceived as washed up and over the hill in Hollywood after 30, so much so that not nearly as many get a second sexy act in their forties or later. I was totally, utterly shocked the other day when I caught part of Sunset Boulevard, a movie I've seen many times, to discover that Norma Desmond is in her fifties, not her 70's, as I'd always assumed and somehow missed all these years.

So what about my heroes and heroines? How old are they?

Whatever the age I say they are in my books, in my mind, the men are at least in their 30s, and the women approximately the same.

How come I don't say that in the book? Why make them younger?

Well, for one thing, if I'm doing a medieval, a lot of them would be dead by the time they hit 30 and 40. For another, folks matured faster back then -- they had to. There was none of this teenage coming-of-age stuff. You were considered an adult then, and expected to act like it.

What about later time periods? Again, I'm trying to stick to the societal norms, with marriages at younger ages.

So while my hero may be the same age as Robert Pattison, in my mind he'll act more like a man of 40, and look like one, too.


Leah Braemel said...

Akk! Norma Desmond was supposed to be in her 50s? Arrrgh! I'd always figured she was in her 70s too.

And the age of the heroine really can lose me - so many historicals have 18 year old heroines who can solve the world's (or the tortured heroes') woes that I just want to roll my eyes. Okay, so I got married at 18, but sheesh, I probably caused more torment of my poor husband those first few years. And when I look at my 18 year old niece and her friends, there's no way I can see them as the heroines in a romance. Yes, there are mature 18 year olds out there, but I'm just not prepared to buy/read stories with heroines that young any more.

But then I'm now Norma Desmond's age.

Margaret Moore said...

That's why I try not to say how old my heroines are. :-)

Kimber Chin said...

I don't talk about age in my novels either but in my mind, they are all in their 30's.

(One reason the baby inclined in my novels tend to get preggers quickly - they haven't much time for that left)

Sure, I met my hubby in my early 20's and that worked brilliantly but most of my buddies are onto second (or third or even fourth) marriages. I want to reassure my readers that someone who finally and prudentlys makes that commitment in her 30's is mature enough to work at it and make it last.

I always picture your heroes and heroines as older too. Battle worn and weary sometimes. Makes them interesting.