In the media hubbub surrounding the recent Academy Awards, I saw a headline announcing that movie producers are now embracing older actors and stories about old people. No, they are not – not unless their name is Judi Dench or Maggie Smith or Helen Mirren. (It helps to be British.)
And in general, there are just three storylines:
• The aforementioned extreme sports stories (that always imply “if he can do it, what’s wrong with you?”)
• Love in old age (aren’t they cute)
• Spunky elders (with or without terminal disease) who carry on through every adversity, designed and guaranteed to leave the entire audience weeping when they die at the end
In supporting roles, elders are almost always the objects of ageist humor.