Hollywood: Change The Picture!
By Karen and Erica
We are all about image. And figuring out why we don't have one.
We now have hard evidence that one reason is Hollywood. Humana and the Annenberg School studied how seniors are portrayed in the top 100 films of 2015. Their conclusion: seniors (defined as people over 50!) are “the rare and the ridiculed." And women are barely seen at all. Much of this is apparently done for "humorous effect." Really?
How rare are women of our cohort in the movies? Some data: Only 11% of speaking characters were 60 or older--despite being 18.5% of the population. Older men outnumbered older women 2.7 to 1. Of the few seniors shown working, 72% were men and only 38% were women. On an almost 8 to 1 ratio, men had positions of power and prestige as opposed to women. The language used to describe us is generally derogatory: "relic," "old bitches," "pathetic," "weak," and "frail" are common. Most of us are shown in doing things like knitting, gardening and attending events. Not surprisingly, the study concludes that “seniors on screen are an endangered species in cinematic storytelling.”
Why so? Apparently because Hollywood is targeting males aged 15-28, based on the belief that they drive the box office. Fair enough. Hollywood is selling a product. But why on earth are young men seen as the main market? Do young men go to movies at all? They seem to spend more time livestreaming stuff on their devices.
We, on the other hand, are big consumers of movies in theaters. We grew up going to movies. We love the big screen. We love the social aspect of being in a theater. We want to see people like us, who are energetic and fully engaged in life, doing interesting things in film--with everyone else. Helen Mirren in Eye In The Sky. Carrie Fisher as General Leia in Star Wars. Angela Bassett in What's Love Got To Do With It. Meryl Streep in Florence Foster Jenkins. Morgan Freeman in The Shawshank Redemption. Tom Hanks in Sully. Yoda in Star Wars.
Hollywood, make us visible. We will make it worth your while.