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ERIC Number: EJ866314
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 25
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 60
ISSN: ISSN-0360-1277
Older Characters in Teen Movies from 1980-2006
Robinson, Tom; Callister, Mark; Magoffin, Dawn
Educational Gerontology, v35 n8 p687-711 2009
Although children as young as age three have already begun to manifest negative stereotypes toward older adults, attitudes toward older adults likely crystallize during late childhood and adolescence and become entrenched by the time an individual reaches young adulthood. Studies have shown that young people view older people in general as ineffective, dependent, lonely, poor, angry, overly wrinkled, ugly, dirty, disabled, and less physically active and healthy than younger adults. Because today's children and adolescents have less contact with older people than in past decades, it is likely that some young people get most of their information about older people and aging from the media. This is all the more likely during the teen years, when vulnerable adolescents purposely seek out certain media to form their identity. This content analysis examined the 60 most popular teen movies from the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s to determine how older people are portrayed. Older people were greatly underrepresented, according to their numbers in the actual U.S. population, making up only 7% of the total number of characters in teen movies. Older people were marginalized in terms of plot and were likely to be featured only as background characters. Of older characters, 60% were portrayed stereotypically, and only 45% of the older characters were portrayed in a positive manner. Also, 32% of older characters were portrayed in a negative manner, and one-fifth of older characters were portrayed only with negative characteristics. The stereotypes that adolescents today hold toward older people, including the belief that they are bad drivers, are angry most of the time, and are senile, were reflected in older character portrayals in these popular teen films. Given the negative representations of older people that adolescents are exposed to in their childhood and during the teen years, it is no wonder that they express negative attitudes toward older people. After years of exposure to media that negatively depict older adults, adolescents have been cultivated to stereotype older people. This has the potential to influence the quality of their interactions with older people, and also influence the way they come to view the prospect of getting old. (Contains 9 tables.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A