Daily Show’s “Dirty Bird Special” poops on senior sex

About three years ago, I was contacted by a producer of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart about appearing on a segment about the rise in STDs among sexually active seniors. The segment didn’t get produced at that time because they wanted to include sexually active elders, preferably unattractive and smarmy who didn’t use condoms, who were willing to let a camera and interviewer follow them on their how-to-pick-up-a-sex-partner-escapades.

I knew TDS would ridicule these elders and the whole notion of older-age dating and sex, but I wanted to be a part of the show because I thought I could bring some dignity to the topic.

After months of trying to locate their wild elders (who were likely smarter than I was and wouldn’t agree to be ridiculed by The Daily Show), the producer gave up on the segment — or so I thought.

I went on to be interviewed on the topic of unsafe senior sex by ABC Nightline, which did a fabulous, educational, and respectful segment and included a long interview with me, featuring comments from readers on this blog, in fact.

You know what happened last night if you were watching Comedy Central. On April 9, 2009, The Daily Show aired “Dirty Bird Special” about unsafe senior sex and dating, which featured an 82-year-old horndog (“lookin’ for it wherever I can get it”) who doesn’t believe his genital warts are contagious (“warts are my penis”) and hasn’t used a condom in 40 years, although he’s getting more “tail” now than in his youth.

Although part of the segment showed vivacious Miami elders dancing, dating, and having fun, the interviewer — who admitted that thinking of seniors having sex produced “gagging sensations” — was intent on making even social dancing and dating seem seedy, ridiculous, and icky. And I hate to tell you what they did with the segment about safer-sex education at a Jewish community center. You’ll have to view it yourself .

I thank Sue Katz for drawing my attention to this show with her superb blog post about it.

1 Comment

  1. Anonymous on April 12, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    I was thinking about your blog when I watched this episode. I definitely agree that the interviewer’s comments about gagging sensations, etc were ageist and insulting.

    I hate comments tying sexuality to physical appearance because as a woman, I am constantly at the receiving end of messages from the media and the men that my sexuality is tied to my level of beauty/youth. It’s disempowering and sexist–and so hard to step away from mentally.

    I think younger people who make fun of older people’s sexuality are doing the same thing as when the media makes fun of “ugly” women having sex–tying their essential worth to something superficial (age/looks) over which the person has no control.

    It’s a way youth tries to compensate for the advanced experience and knowledge that older people have over the younger–in the same way that a male-dominated media tries to tie beauty to sexuality in order to control and disempower women.

    But regarding TDS’ coverage of the 82-year-old non-condom user, I think that even if the topic had been “STDs in Boise residents” they would have found the most ignorant, morally bereft resident of Boise they could and have used him as the show’s anchor point. So I don’t think their choice of that particular non-condom-user was a stab at senior sex, but more a reflection of TDS’ regular focus on the outrageous (in this case, someone who hasn’t used condoms in 40 years).

    Now, I love TDS. If they weren’t edgy they wouldn’t have accomplished to much and made such a dent in the right-wing juggernaut of the last eight years. However, sometimes they do make me a little cranky–in a separate issue from the one in this post, I’ve noticed that both Jon and Stephen Colbert sometimes purposely pronounce people’s names funny, if those names are somewhat exotic or foreign. I don’t think that’s one of their more sophisticated jokes. Anyway.

    Christina at onely

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