Betty White: From Golden Girl to Facebook/SNL Phenom

Just today I had a long conversation with my dear Grandma Ruth (aka The Elder Socialite) and as she spoke, one thing became strikingly clear to me – old people can say whatever the f*ck they want.  Their whole attitude can be summed up in one statement: “I’m 80+ years old, I got 300,000+ miles worth of life on me, and I’m just grateful I can still walk under my own power – so I’m gonna say what I want and if you don’t like it, you can go right ahead kiss my fanny.”  This mentality has caused many members of the college community to dismiss old folks as crotchety windbags (yeah, I’m talking about you Mickey Rooney), however one geriatric gal with a golden past spat in the face of convention and bridged the generational gap between young and old. Read on to see how Betty White benefitted from the wonders of social networking and wowed audiences with her performance as this week’s host of Sautrday Night Live – 90 minutes of live television that had both dorm rooms and retirement homes buzzing with laughter.

Riding the popularity wave that started during her Super Bowl XLIV Snickers commercial, 2010 has been the year of Betty White in the entertainment world.  Paired up with the voice of the hip-hop culture, musical guest Jay-Z, White offered a breath of fresh air into the slumping Saturday Night Live enterprise.  The 88-year-old Golden Girl was the benefactor of a massive social networking campaign to get her into the SNL spotlight and as after 500,000-plus Facebook members have joined the “Betty White to Host SNL” fan page, the rest was television history.

The fans’ efforts paid off as the eyes of the world – young,old, farsighted, and nearsighted – were set on Betty last night.  Being the established veteran that she is, White owned the stage and had audiences eating out of her wrinkly palm with genuinely funny sketches including her role as MacGruber’s grandmother, the geriatric gumshoe on “CSI: Sarasota,” and her innuendo laced guest appearance on Ana Gasteyer and Molly Shannon’s classic “Delicious Dish.”  How can you now laugh when a sweetheart like Betty White says something as ludicrous as “My muffin hasn’t had a cherry since 1939.”  It’s vulgarly delightful.

Although the skits were hilarious, my favorite part of the “Mother of All SNL Episodes” was White’s appreciation of the younger generation that supported her so enthusiastically through Facebook.  White admitted “When [she] first her about the campaign to get [her] to host Saturday Night Live, [she] didn’t know what Facebook was.” She continued, “Now that I know what it is, it sounds like a huge waste of time”. White then poked fun at Facebook junkies, stating that, “I wouldn’t say the people on it are losers, but that’s because I’m polite.”

After all was said and done, White’s time on SNL was a resounding success and even marked the return of some of the finest women of SNL history in Tina Fey, Ana Gasteyer, Molly Shannon, Maya Rudolph, Amy Poehler, and Rachel Dratch.  I think 16-year-old pop sensation Justin Bieber summed up Generation Y’s feelings best when paying tribute to his elder of 72 years by tweeting “BETTY WHITE RULES.”

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