by Eve Vawter
A lot has been written about Hollywood's huge diversity problem, and in addition to not sharing the stories of marginalized people, people of color, and women, Hollywood also doesn't care for any old people in movies either. According to an article in Messenger-Inquirer:
"Of the 100 top-grossing films from 2015, just 11 percent of the characters were 60 or older, less than that age group's 18.5 percent share of the U.S. population, according to the study by the University of Southern California and Humana Inc."
In addition to this news, the article goes on to state that:
"Of 57 films that featured a leading or supporting senior character, 30 included ageist comments, according to Stacy Smith, director of the Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative at USC's Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism."
So not only weren't old people depicted on screen, but when they were featured or mentioned it came with a nice big helping of ageism. I know that all anyone cares about in regard to pop culture and movies is the coveted 18- to 34-year-old market share, but considering almost 19 percent of the U.S. population is aged 60 and over that's a whole lot of people unrepresented at the box office.
Representation matters. Not only for marginalized people who are 18-34, but for those who are years beyond that as well. According to Yolangel Hernandez Suarez, vice president and chief medical officer of care delivery at the health insurer Humana Inc, "Seniors with an optimistic view of their place in the world perceive themselves as 12 years younger than their biological age and report feeling ill fewer than than three days a month and seniors seeing themselves positively portrayed in pop culture can have it affect their overall health."
We need to see everyone's stories in movies, not just those who fit that coveted 18- to 34-year-old demographic, because as I've said before, if we are all lucky, we get to live far beyond that tidy little box.
But all of this doesn't mean you have to rush out and see Sully this weekend so you can give your money to an aging Tom Hanks — I heard that movie was boring.