There is no doubt that older people are becoming increasingly more visible in the media, which can only be a good thing. But recently I’ve come to question the way that a recent number of adverts tend towards ridicule.
Are they merely harmless fun and meant to be seen as affectionate, or are they sending the wrong message when it comes to seeing older people as vital and relevant members of society?
Last weeks brilliant BBC2 programme Blurred Lines: The new battle of the sexes, pointed out that by laughing at “ironic” sexist jokes, we are validating others who are sexist and are subliminally condoning this behaviour and creating a normality around hostile attitudes to women.
Could there be some similarities when it comes to laughing at rather than with, older people in the media?
The fact that the Spotify advert has made it humorous for the seniors to like contemporary music is surely wrong? Why shouldn’t they like M.I.A or John Newman – although I draw the line at Kelis, surely no-one likes that terrible song? And the Specsavers ad featuring a room full of beige old people in a community centre, brought to life by a Zumba bunny, is just plain depressing.
Not only are these ads ridiculing older people, they are also excluding them from activities that should be seen as completely acceptable – at any age. In the same way that women shouldn’t be seen as “different”, nor should old people. Making normal behaviour humorous, simply because it’s undertaken by seniors, is surely wrong.
A couple of times during the screening of the Advanced Style documentary last week, I noticed some of the audience laughing and it made me cringe and want to ask them why – as it felt condescending and unkind. Shouldn’t we be celebrating and respecting these wonderful women who are pushing boundaries and paving the way for the rest of us to live our lives to the full as we age?
No-one wants to be laughed at and while we don’t want to take ourselves too seriously as we age, shouldn’t the media be taking steps to portray growing older as a a positive, inclusive stage of our lives, rather than making it the butt of (young?) media creatives jokes.