Beyond the rocking chair

Date of publication: June 15, 1981

Author: Rena Bartos

Abstract:

At a recent conference in New York on the issue of age stereotypes, the spokesperson said: "Old people are ugly, decrepit, stupid, forgetful, toothless, sexless after sixty-five, ready to fall off the conveyor belt of life... this is the way the media has portrayed us, the old, and we don't like it." This speaker went on to say that "we feel that the media is largely responsible for the perpetuation of this stereotypical image of the old. We are trying to change this because we believe that it is the cause of negative attitudes, prejudices, and behavior patterns toward the elderly. She believes that the image of old people now being portrayed in TV programs and advertising is frequently unrealistic. I personally believe that the way to overcome stereotyping in advertising and in media is not through exhortation or social pressure, although these are the tools of social activists, but rather through awareness of social change and the impact of that change on the nature of the consumers with whom we wish to communicate.

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