We’re in the thick of the awards shows for 2016. I mention this not because I’m here to critique gala gowns. I bring this up to point out the fact that the older generation is fairly well-represented within the various groups of nominees. And this is the way it should be.
Residents over the age of 50 will represent nearly 35 percent of the U.S. population by 2020, and it’s only fitting to reflect that truth in the entertainment media we create and support. I love seeing older people as the mainstays of any entertainment medium — whether as performers or presenters — with one exception. Spare me, please the experience of watching elders having sex on the big screen.
Over the years, some of the most moving performances have been by oldsters like Maggie Smith (“Quartet,” “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”) and Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin (“Grace and Frankie”). I’ve always been touched by connections created by actors like Clint Eastwood or Robert Redford, who impressed me even before I entered their age bracket.
It’s only right that our entertainment industry represent me as part of the population mix. It’s not necessary to put elders on some performance pedestal, but leaving us out of stories — comedic or serious — implies we don’t matter, that we’re not an important part of the overall makeup of society. After all, movies, to a great extent, reflect the stories we value. Further, the omission of older people only validates the invisibility some seniors feel as they move through the latter part of their life.
I have no desire to see (nor do I expect to see) the likes of Helen Mirren running through the forest slaying a techno-dragon with her laser sword. I do, however, want plots that involve mature people who artfully share their struggles and triumphs. I want to hear their stories — either in print or on film or in live performance venues. I appreciate that and will support it with my almighty buck whenever possible.
As I close, I’d like to toss out two questions: Do you agree that seeing elders represented in entertainment venues is important? If so, do you feel our society currently supports that ideology?
On to the red carpet!