Starting Point: It's not the same old story.


This article originally appeared in Issue# 45

Once almost invisible, older characters are now prominent in many movies, TV shows and commercials. But as entertainment, marketing and communications experts reveal, the "graying of the media" often hides new, more subtle stereotypes and ambivalence about aging.

When we first discussed an issue on media and aging, Cocoon was delighting audiences of all ages in movie theatres and The Golden Girls had become the hit of Saturday night television.

All of a sudden it was OK to be gray. We wondered how much mass media was intertwined with this trend? And what future impact media would have as contemporary society continued to age?

As often happens, the search for answers uncovered more topics than we could possibly explore in our few pages. Portrayal and stereotyping were only the beginning. Digging deeper, we found "gerontophobia" perpetuated by anti-aging marketing campaigns and the mixed blessing of business and industry "targeting" our elders as lucrative consumers.

If you check your library, you'll find that there are few references to these issues outside of academic journals in gerontology. We are pleased, therefore, to contribute this landmark collection of articles and reflections, questions and concerns for public debate. I hope you'll find, as we did, that an issue on media and aging is not the same old story.