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AQA Media Studies MEST3 Identities and the Media Old Age in Film and Television

Rob Miller | Friday September 12, 2014

Categories: A Level, AQA A Level, AQA A2, Collective Identity, Representation of Age, Key Concepts, Representation & Stereotyping, Hot Entries, Theory, Queer Theory, Representation Theory

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Identity and age is a broad topic for study with youth identity a much debated and analysed area focussing on Gauntlett’s prosumer, interactivity using web 2.0 and the representation of the self through social media platforms, creating online identities and user generated content. Cultural identities of old age however have become a marginalised area of representation study and potentially in the media are still victim to hegemonic cultural stereotyping more than most - if stereotypes are challenged it is frequently only through ironic humour as in the July 2014 BT Infinity television commercial where audiences find themselves surprised that Simon’s grandfather can competently use a tablet as digital technology.

Pluralistic cultural identities of age seem to be restricted to hyper real examples as in the Rolling Stones, all of whom are grandfathers with Mick Jagger in 2014 a great grandfather. Their appearance on the main stage at the Glastonbury Music Festival in 2013 anchored their iconic status and longevity and maintained their aspirational representation to male audiences in terms of their age. The cultural stereotype of old age invariably has connotations of vulnerability, helplessness and undesirability with television news frequenting reinforcing and circulating this representation with news stories about care homes, old people in need of rescuing because of floods and a particular favourite, old people driving up the wrong side of the motorway. Audiences are conditioned into expecting these types of identities because they have become so common and normalised that anything that deviates from this stereotype almost has the status of a niche or novelty text. In ‘The Politics of Childhood’, Martin Hoyles discusses how children used to have no socio economic value in society but now, the concept of the teenage dot.com entrepreneur is far more acceptable than any pluralistic representation of...

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