Saturday 17 August 2019

Jagger finally crosses the line from cool icon to sad old man

Even in rock 'n' roll, where the rules are oddly different, Mick's latest age gap is creepy, writes Sarah Caden

AGE GAP: Mick Jagger
AGE GAP: Mick Jagger

Sarah Caden

Last week, while reporting the alleged new romance between Mick Jagger and film producer Noor Alfallah, one online news site compared them to the latterly late Hugh Hefner and his wife, Crystal Harris. The gap between that married couple was 60 years. The gap between Mick and Noor, at 74 and 23 years of age respectively, is 51 years. It's comparable all right, but how did it happen that Mick and Hef could end up in the same bracket?

It happened because time marches on and somehow Mick, though still touring, is a septuagenarian great-grandfather. In fact, his eldest grandchild is two years older than Noor Alfallah. This is how he ends up compared with Hef, who was regarded, for decades, as nothing short of a dirty old man.

There are many who would object to comparisons between Mick and Hef. Mick, somehow, is still regarded as a cool rock icon. He's a totem of hope for middle-aged to elderly men everywhere as he continues not only to romance but to romance women of the same age as the women he was romancing 50 years ago.

How does he do it is asked of Mick, and in an admiring way. If he wasn't a rock star, we'd be picking his behaviour apart as a classic case of an old man needing to boost his ego by wooing very young women with his status and power. But we don't, because this is Mick and because this is rock 'n' roll and the rules are different.

The first suggestion of a romance between Mick Jagger and Noor Alfallah came last weekend, when they were photographed after enjoying a "romantic dinner" together. To be clear, they were photographed leaving a Paris restaurant together. There were sources, though, claiming that a relationship has been going on for more than a month.

A newspaper also pointed out that Mick appears to remain involved with Melanie Hamrick, mother of his youngest and eighth child, a son, Deveraux, born last December. Melanie Hamrick, an American ballerina, is 30 years old, which seems suddenly ancient.

One source conceded that "Mick still has his legendary charm but even the band were surprised someone as young and beautiful as Noor came to Paris to see him," before adding that "they are both single and seemed to have a lot of fun together, so everyone just let them get on with it".

Well, yes. And no.

AGE GAP: Noor Alfallah
AGE GAP: Noor Alfallah

In the current climate, it's interesting to note that while men of power in film, politics and business have been revealed for their sexually aggressive, inappropriate and exploitative behaviour, nothing has emerged from the rock 'n' roll ranks. This is not to suggest that Mick Jagger has ever behaved sexually inappropriately. It is to say, however, that we have accepted that the rules of sexual behaviour have always been different in the world of rock 'n' roll.

Never mind the casting couch of Hollywood, what about the groupies of rock 'n' roll? How distasteful is it that there's a name for women who congregate around musicians? They're the women who hang around and hope that the musicians will notice and have sex with them. Their status is conferred by the grade of muso they can score and there has always been an acceptance that groupies are passed around. Consensually, obviously, but it's still creepy.

Back in the 1960s, a groupie was a rebel who rejected the patriarchal path of settling down, bearing babies and keeping house. She seemed like a self-determining libertarian compared to her tied-down sisters, but in truth the groupie is as wedded to a man's ego and status as any little housewife. This is the culture in which Mick Jagger was young. Women ''threw themselves'' at him and no one is suggesting, even for a second, that he has ever exploited them. The age gap between him and his romantic partners matters now, though.

Young women may still be keen on Mick, but not exactly for the reasons that they were when he was young - or even middle-aged. They say that Mick Jagger and Noor Alfallah are having fun together. Which makes them sound like a pair of free-spirited equals.

But they're not both youngsters and she's an unknown film producer, while he's one of the most famous men in the world. Sure he still has the on-stage moves and he's still fathering children, but at this point his major appeal is his status and power. If this was anything but rock 'n' roll, we'd be turning up our noses at it.

Last week, one UK tabloid headline ran: 'I Can Get Noor Satisfaction'. That's great for Mick's great-grandad ego, but it's a bit off in the current climate. It buys into this sort of sniggering, "Good man, Mick, you dirty dog" idea and it's getting a bit old. So to speak.

Sunday Independent

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