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April 23, 2018 / C H Thompson

Media Representations of Age

  • Representations of age can be split into children, youths and old people
  • Children (up to 14) are often portrayed in adverts as as consumers of toys, playful, in loving large clean homes. Similarly representations of children in sitcoms are often set in happy, safe, loving family environments
  • Similarly children’s childhood is often represented through images and scripts defining childhood as happy, carefree, just think of Christmas averts.
  • These representations ignore all the social pressures children are under
  • Representations of youth (15 to early 20s)
  • Media representations of youths are constructed around negative images and language stereotyping them as rebellious, a problem, troublemakers indulging in drugs, and alcohol induced promiscuous sex.
  • Media research has shown a high frequency of terms such as thugs, sicko’s, hoodie, being used when report on incidents involving young people
  • Therefore notions of deviance and criminality are often associated with these groups
  • Such representations are driven by news values which can perpetuate moral panics as youths are seen as folk devils – the enemy within (the working-classes are often labelled as the enemy within. For example, during the height of the miners’ strike 1984-85, the strikers were lambasted as disengaged, failing, rough, and common
  • Older people (50 +) are often ignored by the mainstream media making them invisible.
  • By ‘ignored’, it’s meant lead film roles, major TV roles, pop videos, adverts etc. more often than not use younger people to promote their products of performances
  • When older people are given lead roles more often than not such stereotype older people as forgetful, unattractive, non-sexual and grumpy
  • Much of the above is made worse for women, as some men are given ‘wise’ roles such as Gandalf the Grey. Older women with long hair would be stereotyped more negatively such as ‘mutton dressed as lamb’
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