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Sunday, 3 December, 2000, 12:44 GMT
Are pensioners stereotyped?
Pensioners are fed up with being stereotyped on television as grumpy Victor Meldrews or sweet little old ladies, according to a study.Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.
The research by the Independent Television Commission and the charity Age Concern found that older viewers wanted to watch the same as everyone else cutting edge comedies or violent movies.
The survey of more than 3,000 adults in their sixties and seventies revealed that older viewers felt under-represented on television.
Do we stereotype the older generation? Are they all flat-caps and wrinkly stockings? What can be done to improve the pensioners image on television?
No. In fact, they should be cut off of any money. There is entirely too much money going to these old fogies. We need the money for luxury goods like Mercedes Benz and Lexus. The money going to them could help me get a new car.
Jane De Gruchy, England
What I have noticed, but I may be wrong here, is that OAP stereotyping has a lot to do with the "class" system. The "comical" OAP codger is more likely than not to be of working class or lower middle class background. Not many of the "U" classes seem to be laughed at perhaps because they don't have a need for the miserable state pension. For instance I don't think anyone would dare present the late Sir Steven Runciman as a stereotyped OAP! Personally I don't give a damn. There has to be after all some material for the talent-challenged writers of "comic" material (stand-up and fall-down).
I am nearly 38 years old. These days, I don't want to be rushing around trying to do everything and finish it just as I start. I learned to relax.
Being relaxed and not trying to pressure all and sundry has led me into gaining more respect from older people. The other day at a checkout till, I spoke to the lady ahead of me who was trying to push all her groceries into a plastic bag that she could take as long as it needed to pack her bags and finish. Her face lit up, and one could almost sense the "thank goodness there are people around who aren't rushing all the time" mood.
Older people are very nice if you nice to them. If you try to talk down to them, they will quite rightly look down on you. Can you blame them?
The thing is that Victor never complained needlessly. The fact he wasn't prepared to be a doormat, treated like an idiot, or abused by yobs is actually one of the few positive role models seen on TV today. Make a stand for decency and support anyone else who does.
The sample upon which the research is based is pitifully small. If many pensioners, including myself, do not watch the idiotic material being shown on TV. It has all to do with quality. Little or no plot, sitcoms without laughs, shouting, young people with dreadfully short experience and it shows in their inability to put over a convincing character.
Sue Doughty, UK
Dicky Dawes, Greece
They are all old and on a pension.
Of course pensioners are stereotyped. Humans are adept at grouping, categorising and placing in boxes. The fallacy comes in assuming this happens uniquely to pensioners. Children, teenagers, middle-aged men and pensioners are all equally stereotyped on television, radio and in writing. How do we avoid stereotyping? It would seem that we don't.
John B, UK
I am not a pensioner myself, but I am disabled and I see quite a lot of views that are very similar to people of pensionable age. I think that there should be more elderly icons on television. Daytime television, for example is full of commercials for over fifty pension plans and all that. It's a pity that programmes can't cater a bit more for the elderly as commercials do. And what about celebrity pensioners? Thank the world for Dame Thora Hird, that's what I say!
I think that non-grumpy pensioners seem to be the exception, rather than the rule. There doesn't seem to be a day goes by when I don't get tutted at on the bus for not leaping up immediately to give an old person my seat (after a 10 hour day), someone telling me that "I fought in the war; show some gratitude", or yelling out their window as to where I park my car in my crowded street!
My grandad, on the other hand, is 80, sprightly, still does odd-jobs for people, drives his car (sometimes a bit worryingly, I must admit), and generally just acts like any other grown-up. There's the occasional story of when he was in the Home Guard, or the odd groan about his old bones, but I'd certainly like to meet more pensioners like him.
We should all be like Victor - complain when you get poor service. Then maybe things will improve.
I do not see why young people tend to stereotype their parents or the elderly in general. We should treat them with respect. They deserve dignity.
Anton McCoy, UK
The old are getting younger these days.
I'm currently thirty years old and hope to feel the same in forty years.
Ours will be a different generation, we will still have our pop music and trendy clothes I am sure of that.
We tend to stereotype old people who were around in the Second World War.
Let's leave this all behind and live longer, more enjoyable lives.
You're missing the point. Comparing old people to 'grumpy' Victor Meldrew isn't correct, as the character is not grumpy, he is just very frustrated by the apparent lack of care or general manners against all ages.
Be careful ... we'll all (hopefully) be old one day!
Matt Wahl, USA
I don't think the image of old people really matters much.
The important thing is to target them with effective marketing, they are very affluent.
Marketers need to get them spending more, they owe it to the younger generations who need the opportunities.
When we are young, it is youth versus authority. As we get older, we become more aware of injustices in life and tend to vent our feelings, so eventually it is the older generation versus the up and coming younger generations. Whether the older generations decide to make a hobby out of complaining is entirely their own choice, much the same as the younger generations wanting to be aggravating during adolescence and any other age.
While there are undoubtedly some pensioners who fit the stereotype - poor, always whinging -
there are equally vast numbers for whom retirement and pensioner-hood is a time of unparalleled wealth (they've paid off their mortgages,
their kids are off their hands, they've got investments and private pensions) and opportunities to indulge in
recreational and leisure activities they never had time for while they were working.
Go on a cruise, or an "over=-50s activity holiday" and you'll find pensioners out there
living it up, enjoying their new-found freedoms.
Unfortunately, only the whingers get reported - a case of the "Squeaky wheel" I fear.
I think programmes like One Foot in the Grave do pensioners some good, it highlights the stereotype and gives us the opportunity to change our attitude to pensioners and will hopefully make others try not to end up like Victor Meldrew.
Damon Evans, England
Lets face it, old people are very funny. My parents retired 2 years ago, and have subsequently become highly eccentric. I like visiting them just to see their latest lunatic project. I think paragliding is the current one....
I don't believe it. All we get is miserable old fogies on TV. Not like when I was a lad, we had real characters then. Someone you could have a bit of respect for. Nowadays it is just old people complaining and moaning all the time. I tell you, the youth of today. They should bring back national service, that'll teach them some discipline - and another thing.....
Rob Jones, Oxford, UK
Victor is only a character but he did bear a great resemblance to my Grandfather. All the great characters are people that the public can relate to whether it's Basil Fawlty, Del Boy or Victor. The older generation should just keep quiet and quit complaining about every subject under the sun especially now considering that a lot of them don't have to pay for their TV licence.
Stereotyping is not just directed at old people, it is aimed at all of us in some way. The Irish have 'Father Ted, the Scottish, 'Rab C Nesbit and the Germans have 'Dads Army' and yet I hear few complaints at any of these
At least they're represented in the UK! In the US, there is no series on Network TV that has anyone over 60 as their MAIN character. I spent years taking care of the "seniors" in my family, so I've thoroughly enjoyed watching shows like "Waiting for God" and the Victor Meldrew series. These are shown on Public TV here in the States, and are often scheduled at the worst viewing times. They're funny, brilliantly written and make me laugh 'till I have tears in my eyes.
Most of the seniors I know feel entitled to voice their opinion, and give in ever more to their little "quirks." So the characters are quite familiar to me. If you really want to offend your pensioners, try having them relate to the parents in the American sitcom "Seinfeld"...
You forget that older people are fitter than they have ever been before. Not only that, many of us have our own cars and we pursue a wide range of interests from computers to downhill skiing and theatre to eating out. The people who are entrenched in old-fashioned attitudes and are behind the times are those in the media who don't seem to be able to keep up with the times like us over 60s. Get a life! - we enjoy the good things of life like everyone and we have the time to do it!
Old people are stereotyped, but listen to any of them and you'll see that the stereotype is not wrong at all
What exactly are you asking us? If older viewers want to watch the 'same as everyone else' why should they then feel 'under represented' on television? Besides, Victor Meldrew was 60 when the series started and not a pensioner. Just someone who was made redundant (replaced by a black box) and was too old to find another job.
Kevin Graves, UK
Both ends of the age spectrum are stereotyped; the old are decrepit and teenagers are thugs and hooligans.
Older people are stereotyped because that's how they are. Could not have had a younger person as Victor Meldrew. It was funny due to the fact that everyone sees old people like that. Which is how they must portray themselves
Pensioners are under-represented on
the box because older television staff
retire and we don't see them any more.
Also, wrinklies are not as attractive as
twentysomethings in the ratings war.
27 Nov 00 | UK
Pensioners 'dislike' TV stereotypes
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