This week’s 2012 AARP Movies for Grownups Awards brought out many of Hollywood’s brightest luminaries — including Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, Martin Scorsese, Kenneth Branagh, Janet McTeer, Alexander Payne and still hot Sharon Stone — adding to the elegant event’s distinction as an Awards Season Must. As the New York Times put it, it seems that “the Movies for Grownups had finally, well, grown up.”
We applaud AARP’s persistent efforts toward breaking through the wall of ageism. Making those efforts in the ageism capital of the world — Hollywood — is particularly noteworthy. Here, ageism is not only accepted, it’s not only embraced, it is clung to with a ferocity that speaks of barely-hidden terror. (Think Demi Moore.) However, with the graying of the Baby Boom generation and other factors making moviegoers of age 50 and up increasingly important to box office revenue, more filmmakers and stars will be reaching out to the mature crowd. Next, we’d like to see Movies for Grownups on television.
Speaking of the TV side, the standard ratings classifications are archaic statistically — like using a mortar and pestle when you have a Cuisinart, with today’s technology offering far more sophisticated and meaningful data crunching capabilities. (David Poltrack, Chief Research Officer of CBS Corp. has long been trying to educate people about this.) And yet, we continue to see the phrase “the coveted 18-49 demographic” over and over and over again. (Lazy TV writers really should come up with at least one or two different adjectives besides “coveted.”) Networks and media continue to quote only the ratings for viewers under age 50. Yet the 55-plus audience reportedly reached 33 per cent of the adult population last year. In 2015, it’s expected to reach 36 per cent. That’s a heck of a lot of ignoring.