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Image: Jim Carrey TruLife website
Oh, Jim. Maybe you should have kept your midlife crisis to yourself.
By msnbc.com contributor
updated 8/26/2011 9:37:05 AM ET 2011-08-26T13:37:05

Jim Carrey’s video mash note to 22-year-old actress Emma Stone has caused an Internet sensation, mostly because it's assumed that the 49-year-old grandfather is having a very public midlife crisis. The collective verdict of his adoring confession of love to the "Crazy, Stupid, Love" star: Creepy.

In the clip Carrey uploaded Wednesday to his official website, the star of "Mr. Popper's Penguins" laments his age, sighing that if he were “a lot younger, I would marry you and we would have chubby, little freckled-faced kids. We'd laugh all day long and we’d go camping and play Yahtzee and tell ghost stories by the fire.” The sex, he promises (after a wistful pause), would make Stone, star of "The Help," "thank God" every day that Carrey was “the appropriate age” for her.

Yes, this is cringe-inducing, but it can also be viewed as a laugh-out loud funny (I did). Indeed, late Thursday, the actor's rep told Access Hollywood that the video was a joke. No wonder. If Carrey were serious (although it's just as likely he's goofing — and drumming up clicks to his new web site), such an open declaration could certainly make many people embarrassed for him — and maybe a little for themselves, too.

In the video, Carrey, who split from longtime girlfriend actress Jenny McCarthy, admits he is not the right age for Stone. “I’m 49. I have lines on my face, sometimes a little gray in my beard, and it takes me a little longer to pee than it used to.” That could simply be his way of humanizing himself.

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An older man (or woman) crushing on a younger person is as ancient as human existence. Is Ellen Barkin, 57, too old for Sam Levinson,26, the young actor she's reportedly been living with for the last couple of years? How about the 25-year age gap between Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones? Prince Albert, 53, and Princess Charlene,33?

Of course, there's a difference with those relationships, where the attraction between older and young partner is presumably mutual. But, in general, what’s the big deal about Carrey admiring a younger woman?

People seem to be missing the wistfulness implied by Carrey’s tribute, one common to middle-aged men who are so close to their youth they can still see and feel the vigor and possibilities dreamed of by their younger selves, but so firmly in the second half of their lives that they sense the beginning of loss of that vitality and mourn the possibilities that will go unfulfilled.

“There is often a grieving process,” explains Dr. Rose Hartzell, a therapist at San Diego Sexual Medicine, an integrative sexual dysfunction treatment center. “You have the feeling of life having passed you by.”

Part of the reason older men are so often attracted to younger women, aside from the obvious physical allure, is that men may be “investing in these women, and, in a sense investing in their own futures,” Hartzell explained. “The woman has her whole life in front of her and he can provide for her. It’s like an investment in his own future,” she said.

Aging expert Dr. Stacy Tessler Lindau, associate professor at the University of Chicago Medical Center, says that for some midlife men, the memory of sex at its best, and the fantasy of having it with new, possibly younger, people, like a 23-year-old actress, is integral to feeling aroused and sexy, Lindau said.

© 2013 msnbc.com

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