Why pics of Keanu’s girlfriend shocked me
HAVING not given much thought to Keanu Reeves since his poster was on my wall as a teen, I recently found myself tweet-deep in posts about the Hollywood star's choice of girlfriend.
My instinct, upon seeing the headline "Keanu Reeves, 55, goes public with his first girlfriend in decades" was that he would have a 25-year-old starlet on his arm.
That's what Hollywood men do, isn't it? They date much younger women.
But when I clicked through to photos of the happy couple at an event, I saw an elegant silver-haired woman with a beautiful, but not particularly youthful, face.
I'll admit it, I was shocked. And I wasn't the only one. Delving down into the social media rabbit warren, I saw Twitter users had compared his 46-year-old girlfriend Alexandra Grant to Brit actress Helen Mirren, 74.
Others were more cruel, saying she looked like a granny, with one man posting: "Neo from Matrix, pulled a 3." Less shocking than Keanu's love match was that this bloke's Twitter profile was an emoji rather than his face, which is no doubt subzero on the attractiveness scale.
At the other end of the spectrum, Keanu fans praised the actor for having an "age appropriate" girlfriend - despite her still being nine years younger than him.
One woman claimed this made him even "hotter", another said this relationship was the "start of world peace", while a male called him "brave". Brave? I think we all need to take a reality check.
Why is it brave for a 55-year-old man to date a 46-year-old woman? Taking umbrage with the tweets, actress Whitney Cummings wrote: "In Hollywood, if you're not 24, you might as well be 70."
Sadly, she's right. I was surprised to see Keanu - who, in my mind, is immortalised as 30-year-old Jack in hit movie Speed - dating a mature female.
I am so conditioned to seeing male actors with women decades younger than themselves, that I have come to think of this as the norm.
Johnny Depp, 55, and his ex-wife Amber Heard had a 23-year age gap, and The Pirates Of The Caribbean actor's most recent rumoured fling was with a 20-something Russian go-go dancer.
Lothario Leonardo DiCaprio, 44, crushed the hearts of all us Nineties teens when it became apparent potential suitors had to be leggy models, under 25.
His current girlfriend is 22-year-old model Camila Morrone. A woman like me - almost 35 and with grey hairs sprouting all over - is so irrelevant to these men, I might as well adopt cats and live in exile.
The age-gap myth is perpetuated on screen, too. Classic romances such as Gone With The Wind, The Sound Of Music, When Harry Met Sally, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Silver Linings Playbook all have a man romancing a younger woman.
And Killing Eve actress Jodie Comer, 26, has recently landed a part playing the wife of either Ben Affleck, 47, or Matt Damon, 49, in their film The Last Duel.
Is it any wonder we are now making something as mundane as a man dating a woman of a similar age into something remarkable - and giving him a pat on the back?
Women over a certain age are resorting to pumping their faces full of filler and Botox and relentlessly dyeing their hair, because a man with grey hair and wrinkles is a "silver fox" while they are branded "past it".
Even A-list actresses, frustrated by being overlooked for leading lady roles, feel the pressure. Jennifer Aniston, 50, said recently she refuses to go grey, while Renée Zellweger, also 50, and Nicole Kidman, 52, achieve their youthful looks with subtle tweakments. But we can't just blame Hollywood.
History lessons have taught us that kings marry younger queens; our favourite authors such as Jane Austen and Margaret Mitchell tell us women who don't marry in their teens or twenties end up being "old maids"; and in the relationships we see around us, there are more men dating younger women than vice versa.
I get it. For centuries, women have lacked a proper voice or rights and have often relied on an older man to offer security and power. But not any longer, case in point, Keanu's partner is an established artist and philanthropist.
Maybe men, as evolutionary theory would suggest, are more attracted to women of child-bearing age so that they can procreate.
I don't think Leonardo DiCaprio is thinking that far ahead when he chooses his girlfriends.
More likely, he believes being seen with a 20-something will do more for his Hollywood career than a woman of his own age.
Given that we are more shocked by Keanu dating a woman with grey hair than by men dating women 20, 30 or 40 years younger than them, which is unfortunately, probably true.
This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission