Role of Media in Advancing Ageism Agenda
The elderly are often faced with challenges that emanate from the manner they are often portrayed by the media. Like sexism and racism, ageism is often a social problem that is fed by the stereotypes. Most of the media have the opinion that the elderly member of the society as old and have the number of demeaning set of characteristics attributed to them. These characteristics include senile, unattractive, sickly, child- like and cranky. In order to comprehensively transform the manner in which the society views the elderly individuals in the society, it is critical that the perspective of the media both the print and electronic media changes. The media assist in conveying and reinforcing the stereotypes. They play a significant role in perpetuating the wrong impression about the elderly in the society. The three media that I reviewed are the movies, Television, and the newspapers. One of the important movies characters that significantly contributed to the preparation of this essay was Tyler Perry. The three forms of media provided a vast number of stereotypes.
Ageism is the discrimination or the unfair treatment of an individual based on their age. Most often, it is the elderly who are faced with these challenges as they are faced with these discriminatory acts. The primary impact of ageism is that it adversely affects an individual’s job prospect, self-esteem, financial situation and the quality of life that an individual will live. Ageism also includes the manner in which the older member in the society is portrayed by the media. These misconceptions and stereotypes that are often raised by the media have significant impact on the public’s attitudes (Matsumoto, 2009). Their influence on the manner in which other member s of the society views the elderly is immeasurable.
The misconceptions play a significant role in advancing the ageism agenda since they inform most of the discriminatory decisions that are made regarding the elderly individuals in the society. The misconceptions have changed the public’s attitude towards the elderly. Today, the elderly are judged on the basis of the misconceptions that have been raised by the media. These misconceptions form the basis in which the elderly are treated by other members in the society.
One of the stereotypes that were perpetuated by the three forms of media is that the elderly individuals in the society are helpless victims. They are predominantly depicted as vulnerable. They are a number of narrations that depict the elderly being vulnerable to scammers. The elderly have been portrayed as being warm and incompetent figures in the society who deserve our pity. They are shown as individuals who are highly vulnerable and that they require our protection and charity. Different entities have also advocated for the generated of this notion by over emphasizing on the vulnerability of the elderly individuals in the society.
The other stereotypes that has been depicted is that growing old is equated with inevitable deterioration and decline. There is the generalization that being elderly is accompanied by unhappiness, declining health and unattractiveness (Jackson, 2012). The misconceptions have often been taken for granted and presented by the different media as factual. These stereotypes are harmful since the elderly are at risk of consuming and internalizing the low expectations of aging.
I also think that the elderly are demonized as a group. The stereotypes that are often perpetuated are that they are pathetic figures in the society who are in dire need of sympathy and hence a burden to the society. As a group, they are often judged harshly and discussed as faceless monolith (Bowd, 2003). The media has portrayed them as ‘greedy geezers’ of the Social Security and the Medicare.
The other stereotype that has been highly been perpetuated by the media is that the elderly individuals in the society are despondent. The elderly have been portrayed as often depressed, hopeless, fragile, victimised, weary and boring. These stereotypes are raised from a malicious point of view and more often than not the elderly are some of the most entertaining individuals in the society. Additionally, the elderly are shown as individuals who are shown as blatantly comical and whose contribution in the society is none. They have been inferred with ideas such as frugal and curmudgeon (Chrisler, Barney & Palatino, 2016). These stereotypes are highly perpetuated by the biased media and whose agenda has is misplaced. The misconceptions and the stereotypes that have been shared in the society are misleading and most often are meant to brainwash the younger generation.
According to me, I think these misconceptions and stereotypes are broadly wrong. The basic reason is that aging is a biological process that is not entirely faced with the changes that have been attributed by the media. Such changes that have been raised by the media are as the result of pathological aging.
In conclusion, media plays a significant role in perpetuating different stereotypes. These stereotypes are meant to brainwash the members of the society and hence advance the ageism agenda. The misconceptions raised highly influence the manner in which the aged are treated and judged in the society. Some of the misconceptions raised are that helpless victims, equated with inevitable deterioration and decline, demonized as a group and are despondent individuals who are fragile, weary and of no significant contribution to the society.
Bowd, A. D. (2003). Stereotypes of Elderly Persons in Narrative Jokes. Research on Aging, 25(1), 3-21.
Chrisler, J. C., Barney, A., & Palatino, B. (2016). Ageism can be Hazardous to Women’s Health: Ageism, Sexism, and Stereotypes of Older Women in the Healthcare System. Journal of Social Issues, 72(1), 86-104.
Jackson, M. A. (2012). Counseling Older Workers Confronting Ageist Stereotypes and Discrimination. Ageism and Mistreatment of Older Workers, 135-144.
Matsumoto, Y. (2009). Beyond stereotypes of old age: the discourse of elderly Japanese women. International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 2009(200).