September 12, 2011
"The Representation of Elderly People in Prime Time Television Commercials" is a master thesis done at the University of South Florida in 1995 by Meredith Tupper. The overall thesis suggests the media has a negative portrayal of the elderly. In summary, the poor portrayal is said to be a reflection of the viewpoint the United States has towards the elder population. Many Influential factors have played a role in the distaste our country has towards elderly people. Factors even include the foundation in which our country is built on. Independence, individualism, and autonomy make our country unique, and have attracted primarily young people to immigrate into the United States historically. The elderly tend to stay in the "old country" where a more traditional lifestyle approach is valued. Also, technology continues to change at an extreme pace, and it is difficult for the elderly to keep up with it. In addition, medicine has made many advances that stretch the human life span, so most cases of death occur with old age. Despite the belief these factors that contribute to the devaluation of our nations elders, the media is extremely influential and that can not be ignored. The elderly is not only underrepresented in proportion to our countries population in television, they are also poorly represented. Too often, the media emphasizes on youth and beauty and the elderly is portrayed to be stubborn and absent minded. This kind of viewpoint leaves the youth viewing elderly as incompetent. Their is a risk that the mindset our young American population is developing will continue taint the image of our older Americans, leaving them to become further devalued.
The background research includes portrayals of the elderly seen in various television commercials, children and adolescent literature, magazine advertisements, newspapers, cartoons, and greeting cards.
Prime time television commercials were analyzed using a content analysis...