Thursday, May 08, 2008

Aging in the Media

I was watching The Golden Girls this morning and it got me to thinking about the importance of having different age groups (particularly seniors) in the media. Someone once said on a messageboard I visited, "when I was young, I wasn't watching the characters my age, I was watching the older characters (est. age range here is probably mid 30s and up)." I think there is some truth to that for myself as well. As kids and teens, I think we identify with characters that are similar in age to ourselves, but we tend to look up to older characters. I know that as I age, I'd like some of the characters or people I see in the media to age with me too. That being said, I thought I'd name off a few things I've seen that portray older age groups.

TV Show: The Golden Girls (1985)
Golden Girls is a sitcom from the 80s that revolves around four older divorced/widowed women. The actors on the show have great chemistry. There's the sarcastic divorcee (Dorothy) and her hilarious mother (Sophia), the cheery and slightly idiotic Rose, and the promiscuous Blanche who has a new man in almost every episode. I think the show is successful because the characters aren't treated like "kindly grandmas," but as adults.

Video Game: Metal Gear Solid 4 (2008)
This is the upcoming installment to the Metal Gear Solid games, a series that favors stealth over direct combat. All of the Metal Gear games revolve around the character of Solid Snake. Video games tend to stick to younger characters, and they often don't age from game to game. It's great to see a game series that's not afraid to break the mold. In Metal Gear Solid 4, the main character, Snake, as well as other returning characters will look visibly older. I believe Snake's age also slightly impacts his stamina, making for some interesting gameplay.

Film: Cocoon (1985)
Cocoon is a sci-fi film about a group of older people who discover that they don't have to age or die after making contact with aliens. (I'm seeing a strange pattern with the 80s here). Like Golden Girls, the film's characters act like adults and aren't treated as simply grandparents, although that aspect does figure in for some of the characters.

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