“Would you tell Picasso he couldn’t paint anymore because was too old?”—that’s just the type of treatment that older people are faced with in the media these days, says veteran actor Doris Roberts, who was awarded an Emmy Sunday night for her co-starring role as the strong-willed Marie Barone on CBS’s Everybody Loves Raymond. Roberts will also be seen leading the cast in The Hallmark Channel’s A Time to Remember.
The Parents Television Council recently talked with Roberts about the depictions of seniors in advertising and on television. Why the push towards reaching younger audiences? Roberts feels that advertisers target a young demographic because older audiences consider their consumer choices more carefully than young people. “They don’t want an older audience because we have a brain.” The message that Roberts wants to give advertisers is “change our minds by working harder—I will buy a different car if you tell me it’s safer or give me instructions on how it works better for me.” Marketers target youth because they are easier to convince. Ms. Roberts finds the quest by advertisers to target young buyers puzzling when more than three quarters of the wealth in the United States is controlled by older Americans. “Young people can’t afford to buy cars. Young people don’t buy houses” she asserts. So why then, the push for youth-oriented marketing strategies?
Advertisers are influenced by what Roberts refers to as “image-makers” and this image-consciousness is what leads to the ubiquitous ads featuring young, beautiful woman in advertisements for anything from alcohol, to cars, to magazines. “Nowhere do you see a picture of a woman over the age of 45 on a magazine cover. They’re airbrushing us out of society.”
The rise of television programming rife with sex and violence is because these image-makers are attempting to draw young viewers in with racy, envelope-pushing content. Clean shows that appeal to older viewers — such as Diagnosis Murder and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman — even though they may perform better in the ratings, are bushed aside because that’s not the image the networks want to project, and that’s not the audience they want to attract.
Roberts says that the problem is further exemplified in the portrayals of seniors in television programming. Seniors are not seeing accurate representation of themselves on television. “[Seniors] do not see themselves portrayed and when then do, it’s in a demeaning manner. They’re referred to as ‘over the hill,’ ‘old goats’ and ‘old farts’—oh please, ugly ways of talking about us.”
Full Article and Source:
Ageism in the Media: An Interview with Emmy-Award Winning Actress, Doris Roberts