Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Media and the Elderly

*         Cultivation Theory coined by George Gerbner (1993) “ mass media has impact on people and it is merely wholesalers of social roles in industrial societies. “They present a steady, repetitive, and compelling system of images and messages”. (Gerbner,1993)

*         Mass media is a way people can gain guidance on social roles, it also has the power to manipulate our views and give us information whether accurate or not.

*         When we are unsure about something we often just take in the information given to us by the mass media without questioning it (magazines, television, movies, advertisements etc.) and this information is stored and is used as social guidance to categorize societal roles.

*        Media tends to emphasize youthfulness, beauty, as well as physical and emotional health. The mass media is catered towards children, teens, adolescents, and adults but not the elderly. In this way the elderly are portrayed in media as nonexistent to our society and as if they do not matter.

*         On the other hand, when the elderly are portrayed through the mass media, unfortunately it is in a way that does not depict their true representations. They are represented to the public in negative ways which in return confirm the stereotypes against the elderly

 *Women segregation in media has been found across all age groups, in fact Dr. Linda-Marie Delloff has done research on the elderly and media. She has found that “Elderly women are shown much less on Television then elderly men, “only one in ten characters over 65 is a woman”. (Delloff, 1987)


Ageism: Prejudice or discrimination against a persons age.


        -Not hiring someone even though they are qualified for the job

       -Thinking the person is not worthy or important

       -Making jokes about the elderly

       -Emotional abuse

How the Elderly are portrayed in media

*        Immobile

*        Not interested in sex/lack sex drive

*        Taking care of grandchildren

*        Poor eyesight and hearing

*        Obnoxious/outspoken

*        Help is always needed/Unable to take care of self

*        Unemployed

*        Napping

*        Sewing

*        Cooking/ Baking

*        Lacking cognitive abilities (short and long term memory loss)

*        In nursing homes


            Media Examples (YouTube)

 1).  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMiJzne3Wmk&feature=related

King of Queens (TV show) : In this scene Arthur ( the father of Carrie) is not understanding what is going on at all. Carrie and her husband Doug repeatedly say something but he seems to be in his own world and acts like a lost child.

 2).    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_CXXtAGM8A&feature=related

Everybody Loves Raymond (TV show) : Marrie is portrayed in this TV show as a stay at home grandma, and in this specific scene she is baking. She is then confronted by her daughter in law for needing to see an optometrist and her own husband makes a joke about her poor vision.

 3).    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0ntCmFwtWc&feature=youtube_gdata

Gran Torino (Movie) : In this scene Walt Kowalski, is portrayed as a grumpy elderly person who believes the future generations lack values his generation did.

What research actually shows

*       Immobility= can be sustained through moderate exercise

*       Viagra can help sex life (erectile dysfunction/premature ejaculation and lubricating secretions for women)

*       Osteoporosis can be prevented through eating healthy and moderate exercise

*       Exercising the brain, whether by writing poetry or playing Sudoku, also helps maintain cognitive skills. (Campbell)

*       Some people do work past the retirement age and enjoy it, in fact a delivery man stays fit at the age of 84 by carrying 23kg of water jugs (CTV News, 2012)


Media and the Elderly: Consequences on the person

Cognitive Effects

*         Expectations of self (“How I should behave”/ What is acceptable vs. not acceptable)

*         Self-fulfilling prophecy

*         Impaired memory (Due to stress/depression/anxiety )

Emotional/Behavioural Effects (Smith, Robinson, & Segal, 2012)

*         Depression

*         Stress

*         Anxiety

*         Fear

*         Sleep changes

*         Eating habits changes

*         Irritation

*         Suicide attempts

*         Physical Effects (Smith, Robinson, & Segal, 2012)

*         Body pain and aches

*         Immune Deficiency

*         Disease

*         Ulcers

*         Brain tumour

*         Heart Attack

*         Not exercising—fear of inability or weak bones

**Note that sometimes people may experience other social barriers e.g. Women+ Ethnic minority +Homosexual +Elderly+ Low SES. This means that a person can be receiving discrimination across many other dimensions.


How to Prevent Media’s impact on Ageism

*   Spread the word—Needs to be more public awareness

*   When watching any media source, see how the elderly are misrepresented and address to yourself and out loud if someone is around, why it is not an accurate representation of older adults

*   Needs to be stronger social security for the elderly

*   More positive representations of the elderly needs to be shown in media (television, movies, magazines, posters, ads etc)

*   Campaigns about the media’s influence on ageism



ArthurSpoonerFan.(2009, February 19). Arthur Gets a Job at Danny's Pizza Place-King of Queens.[Video File]. Retrieved from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMiJzne3Wmk&feature=related

Bbcombochidori.(2011, June 16). Gran Torino- How About That. [Video File]. Retrieved from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0ntCmFwtWc&feature=youtube_gdata

Bradchaz.(2011, October 15). Everybody Loves Raymond-Invisible Frank.[Video File]. Retrieved from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_CXXtAGM8A&feature=related

CTV News. (2012, Janaury 12). Delivery man, 84, stays young lifting 23kg water jugs. Retrieved from: CTV News. http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/TopStories/20120112/best-employee-84-120111/

Delloff, L.-M. (1987). Distorted Images: The Elderly and the Media. The Christian Century, pg 12. Retrieved from URL: http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=977

Gerbner, G., (1993). "Learning Productive Aging as a Social Role: The Lessons of Television," in Achieving a Productive Aging Society, Bass,  S.A., Caro, F. G., and Chen, Y. P., eds. Westport, Conn.; London: Auburn House. Retrieved from: http://www.asc.upenn.edu/gerbner/Asset.aspx?assetID=681
Smith, M., Robinson, L., & Segal, J. (2012, January). Depression in Older Adults and the Elderly. Retrieved from HelpGuide: http://www.helpguide.org/mental/depression_elderly.htm

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