When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

CLARIN

Seniority TV! Why We Need More Old Folk On The Small Screen

Innovative television programming could be challenging the dominance of youth on television in Argentina and Brazil.

Argentina's Acua Mayor channel
Argentina's Acua Mayor channel
Ricardo Iacub*

-OpEd-

BUENOS AIRES — Although senior citizens watch more television than any other demographic, we rarely see them on screen. If they do appear, they tend to be portrayed as stereotypes that belittle and limit the age group's true ability and potential.

In Argentina, the older characters almost always have secondary roles or a minor presence, as the actual story plots revolve around young people. Can senior citizens fully participate in society when media, especially television, only use youngsters to represent the dreams and aspirations of people of all ages?

Why do we find it difficult to imagine a television series with 70-year-old actors?

Certainly, prejudiced visions of old age are not just the product of television. They already exist, and determine how senior citizens are depicted on screen. Yet, at a time when the number of old people is increasing, and the lifestyles this age group holds is changing, a discrepancy between television portrayals and reality begins to emerge.

One recent study shows that older adults who watch a lot of television find it difficult to identify themselves with characters in fictional programs, even when, and especially, these programs address issues related to them. These inadequate and incorrect representations reduce the elderly to stereotypes. This in turn means this segment of society finds it hard to see itself as a social asset.

Why do we find it difficult to imagine a television series with 70-year-old actors? Is it impossible for them to play out the same stories of love, passion and adventure?

Brazil offers some interesting examples, even on prestigious channels like Rede Globo. In recent years, it has been producing soap operas where old age and the elderly are given an important role. One of the more notorious examples is Mulheres Apaixonadas (Passionate Women), which depicted an elderly person being physically attacked, and achieved what many campaigns have not — public mobilization for a law to protect the rights of the elderly.

In another program, Amor a Vida (Love of Life), people aged between 70 and 90 confess about their love lives and lovers, prompting parallel chat shows on the lives of the participants. More recently, Babilonia broadcast — during a prime time slot — a couple of elderly women deciding to marry when the country legalizes it. Their onscreen kiss caused more of a stir than one might imagine.

These programs sought out the advice of experts and allowed people to see that television stories could promote, teach and affirm new ways of being an elderly person without a fall in ratings.

Could this happen in Argentina? Our country has produced Acua Mayor, a public channel where elderly people are the protagonists. Programs on it present scenes, actors and scripts that reflect the reality of a diverse population.

Acua Mayor was conceived as a transformative space to break cultural prejudices and include a group of people who have so far been left out. Their programming includes the active participation of elderly characters. As its creators say, this is "TV that invites you to watch but also adopt a more positive life model."

People who watched the channel later said they were surprised but pleased to see the manner their lives were depicted onscreen. Let us hope this idea takes better hold in our country.



*Ricardo Iacub is a psychologist. He teaches at the University of Buenos Aires.

Join our contributor platform Worldcrunch iQ!

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

A Decisive Spring? How Ukraine Plans To Beat Back Putin's Coming Offensive

The next months will be decisive in the war between Moscow and Kyiv. From the forests of Polesia to Chernihiv and the Black Sea, Ukraine is looking to protect the areas that may soon be the theater of Moscow's announced offensive. Will this be the last Russian Spring?

Photo of three ​Ukrainian soldiers in trenches near Bakhmut, Ukraine

Ukrainian soldiers in trenches near Bakhmut, Ukraine

Anna Akage

Ukrainian forces are digging new fortifications and preparing battle plans along the entire frontline as spring, and a probable new Russian advance, nears.

But this may be the last spring for occupying Russian forces.

"Spring and early summer will be decisive in the war. If the great Russian offensive planned for this time fails, it will be the downfall of Russia and Putin," said Vadym Skibitsky, the deputy head of Ukrainian military intelligence.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

Skinitysky added that Ukraine believes Russia is planning a new offensive in the spring or early summer. The Institute for the Study of War thinks that such an offensive is more likely to come from the occupied territories of Luhansk and Donetsk than from Belarus, as some have feared.

Still, the possibility of an attack by Belarus should not be dismissed entirely — all the more so because, in recent weeks, a flurry of MiG fighter jet activity in Belarusian airspace has prompted a number of air raid alarms throughout Ukraine.

Keep reading...Show less

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

The latest