Why I hate Grumpy Old Men

Grumpy Old Men drives Julie Ihle wild, and it’s not with desire.

First published in SMH in 2005

I hate Grumpy Old Men. I am sick of the lot of them – their constant whingeing, their eyeball rolling and their refusal to work the video-recorder. I am talking about the grumpy old men on the show of the same name who sound off every Tuesday night on ABC television about everything: women, call centres, queues, restaurant food, public transport ticketing machines, mobile phones, body piercings, and every single thing on the planet which they seem to believe is put there to annoy them.

In case you were glued to Dancing With the Stars and too busy watching Tom Williams’s six-pack instead of a bunch of balding 50-year-old Poms pontificating, I can’t blame you. Essentially the show Grumpy Old Men interviews minor male British celebrities and the odd big-name celebrity such as Bob Geldof, and they sound off for half an hour. It was a smash hit in Britain and it has its own following here, but personally I find it about as exciting as watching toenails grow.

It may sound harmless enough, but it’s not. By interviewing celebrities like Geldof and Bill Nighy, it has tried to make grumpiness sexy. Being grumpy when I was a kid was akin to overeating or telling fibs – it was just unacceptable behaviour. Now, thanks to this show, these ageing baby-boomers have made grumpiness legitimate, even something to strive for.

The grumpies seem to think sounding off about piercing on television makes you a superior, more clear-thinking person than those who sensibly ignore piercings, bus ticketing machines and the like, and just get on with their lives.

What these smug superior grumpies do not realise is that they are probably sounding (and possibly looking) more and more like their mothers every episode. They are just a bunch of sad, bored, middle-aged farts with no point to their lives, and they fill the gap by whingeing.

Bob Geldof seems to be perennially grumpy and almost admits that, because he and Bono didn’t end up saving the world after all, he’ll spend the rest of his life whingeing about takeaway coffee instead.

The other grumpies appear to be successful, in good health and wealthy. In short, these men have nothing to be grumpy about, which just makes the program all the more annoying. They make me grumpy just watching them.

Well I’m sick of them. Grumpies, get a life. Do something meaningful: learn to knit (that will give you something to be grumpy about), donate a kidney or work at a soup kitchen. At the very least, learn to program the video-recorder or purchase a train ticket from a machine or use internet banking. Get over yourselves and just accept that you are not young studs any longer.

But please stop whingeing. And please ABC, don’t buy the sequel to Grumpy Old Men, which of course is Grumpy Old Women. Instead show us repeats of Tom Williams and his six-pack. I am sure he could never be a grumpy old man.


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