“Just When You Thought You Were Too Old for Romance”
People think when you get to a certain age, there’s no more sex. That ain’t true. -‘Harry’ (played by Joseph Bologna) makes this statement in the film Boston Beach Club, and moviegoers over over the age of fifty often cheer loudly in’ their local Australopithecus are tired seeing older older people being portrayed as sexless beings.
Films that involve romance between older individuals, such as Boynton Beach Club, Something’s GoTTa Give, and Calendar Girls. have become more popular with film makers and movie audiences In recent years. These movies have come in the aftermath of a drought of many years Ir.which older actors found it increasingly difficult to find mature roles in films. If they did and a part, the characters they portrayed typically were chronically III or dying-although that genre of films has not disappeared, as evidenced by movies such as Aurora Borealis, in which the actor Donald Sutherland plays the role of a suicidal parkinson’s disease patient. By Contrast, however, Boynton Beach Club is about five people living in an adult community in Florida ho want to get back into the dating game and to have ongoIng adventures in their lives.Although the characters meet at a local bereavement group, they soon begin to enjoy a new era of their lives as they interact with new people and rediscover an interest n heir own sexuality. For the Baby Boomer generation, films such as this show that what it means to be older has changed ramatically, and this is also an Important message for younger film audiences. According to some analysts, films such as Boynron Beach Club reflect a shift in the attitudes of producers, directors, and Hollywc.od financial backers as they begin to realize that lder moviegoers (who constitute a lucrative market for films and DVDs)are not going to pay money to watch plots that revolve ntirely around adolescents and young people As Susan Seidelman, the writer-director of boynton Beach Club, stated, ‘There are a ot of people over 40 and 50 who would go to the movies, but they want to see a movie that reflects their experiences as an older erson, That’s a tough sell for your average Hollywood movie executive, a fetus in a suit’ (qtd.in Newcott, 2007). Even if this .moment i$an overstatement, it highlights the point that the manner in which the media frame stories and articles about older people Is important in our society
For many years, older Individuals have either been stereotyped or ignored by the mainstream media, which have been accused of resenting distorted images of the elderly (see Dell off, 1987) or of’geezer bashing’ (see Hess, 1991). Even today, some media ports on Social Security, Medicare, .and other issues concerning older Americans are framed in such a way that older people appear to be pitted against younger people In a battle over money and other scarce resources. When news reports suggest that the money spent for programs folder Individuals is money that is taken away from affordable housing, better schools, fighting infant mortality, and Investing in the future, this zero-sum-game framing (‘if you win, I lose”) unnecessarily pits older people against out. However, this type of framing does not show the big picture of how other activities (such as military spending and war) might be an even greater drain on such domestic spending programs (Hess, 1991). Perhaps it is important for books and movies to ell us stories about the feelings of older individuals and to show their daily struggle for love, hope, and dignity in a world that fen ewes not respect the contributions of the elderly. Because the process of aging has been considered boring or downright pressing y many media analysts, older people have been neglected in much media coverage. However,we need to know more about the aging process, particularly its emotional components. We also need to see how older people conduct their lives, review their past experiences, and deal with the aging process because each of us may live to see the day when older people are us, not’them-the other or the ‘outsider’-In what is likely to remain a youth-oriented nation.
Reflect & Analyze
Have you seen films or watched television programs that that are a good example of how stories about older people might be framed? ave you also seen “geezer bashing”? For example, what about the portrayal of older people in some comedies and late-night television shows? What effect does media framing of aging have on your opinions of the elderly?