Perspectives of Aging Reflection
Perspectives of Aging Reflection
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “ageism is the stereotyping of and discrimination against individuals or groups on the basis of their age” (2018). In 2014, governments around the world recognized ageism as “the common cause of and driving force behind age discrimination” (WHO, 2018). The number of older Americans is growing, but the “old geezer” stereotypes are causing the victims of ageism to be made fun of, portrayed ugly on television, in movies, and in advertisements. There are many misconceptions and misinformation about the older population, and different types of media play a role in it.
Types of Media
Fueling the problem of ageism is the media’s portrayal of older adults. They are portrayed as dependent, helpless, unproductive and demanding rather than deserving. In reality, the majority of seniors are self-sufficient, middle-class consumers with more resources than most young people and the time and aptitude to offer humanity. The newspapers and news outlets headline articles such as “Elderly man missing in Savannah.” Such stories perpetuate the stereotype of seniors as being warm, but incompetent statistics who deserve our pity. Older individuals are branded as weak children in need of protection and assistance.
The Big Screen
Hollywood makes more films about senior citizens now more than ever. But most 60 and older actors should be cautious when casting in a movie. The characters are most likely to die or at least very near to death, with their senior moments ridiculed. An instance of this trend is “Going in Style.” A remake of a movie from 1979, it follows three retirees (played by Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Alan Arkin) who rob a bank to make ends meet after their pensions are dissolved (IMDb.com, Inc, 1990-2018). An occasion to review the failures of the state pension system and societal abandonment of the elderly, the film instead refuses to offer the characters an ounce of dignity. They frequently reference how close they are to dying, calculating how many years they may have left based on their various sicknesses. For the stars of “Going in Style,” it must feel like déjà vu. Mr. Freeman previously starred in “Last Vegas” (2013) and “The Bucket List” (2007) both about elderly friends fishing for one last hurrah.
“Going in Style” brings a few laughs, but like these other films, it mostly depends on the tired resolutions of the old-folks-behaving-badly genre. Its older characters act like reckless youngsters, and the audience is intended to snicker at the relic. The characters smoke marijuana and joke about getting “the munchies.” They shoplift from a local supermarket. One has energetic sex with a casual friend. There is even a slow-moving pursuit scene in which they elude a police officer on a scooter, a categorization familiar to fans of sitcoms, cartoons, and other imitative comedies.
Influence of Greeting Cards
Greeting cards are another media source that has a high impact on the perceptions of older adults aging. Things such as loss of youth and senses, the need to conceal your age, a decline in physical and mental health, and life as you knew it to be almost over are plastered on cards daily. All harmful things to older adults to be depicted in a greeting card that seemingly play on the already negative stereotypes of ageism. There are also greeting cards that are more positive and thought out, such as age being more of a state of mind than a setback, life gets better with age, and a celebration of a milestone with more to look forward to.
An article from the Associated Press discussed the bias epidemic of ageism on the NBC nightly news. It noted how greeting cards and novelty companies categorize them as “Over the Hill” products (Associated Press, 2004). Continuing to give examples such as the birthday cards poking fun at the limited or slow mobility of seniors and lack of a sex drive of the older adults (Associated Press, 2004). These media outlets depict the older people wrong in many ways and can play a part in their depression. How will you feel if someone gave you a birthday card with an old person on a motorized scooter slowly gliding through the years? It may seem funny to the person giving the card, but the person receiving the card may take this symbolism to heart.
Ageism is a problem as more people grow old and are wrongfully stereotyped by the media. Newspaper and news headlines, movies, television, greeting cards and advertisements depict many old adults as dependent, helpless, and childlike. When, older adults are educated, stable, and holds a valuable position in society. Many of our upper health professionals are older and nearing retirement. Where would society be without their teachings and direction?
Associated Press. (2004, September). Ageism in America: As Boomers age, bias against the elderly becomes hot topic. Aging on NBC News. Retrieved from http://www.nbcnews.com/id/5868712/ns/health-aging/t/ageism-america/#.W3mETOhKjIU.
IMDb.com, Inc. (1990-2018). Going in Style. Retrieved from https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2568862.
World Health Organization. 2018. Aging and life-course. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/ageing/features/faq-ageism/en/.