One of the weirder things about getting older is that after 50 we are no longer a target audience in regard to the arts. Those that produce movies and TV shows have shunted us aside, looking instead to Millennials and Generation Zers to consume their offerings. All despite the fact that Baby Boomers possess 70% of the disposable income in the country.
While there are generally a few grown-up films every year from the movie industry, they often get little buzz and even less promotion. It’s the same with TV series that boast “mature” actors and themes.
The truth is, Hollywood has historically cared little for older viewers both in what they choose to produce and in how they represent that demographic on the screen. Often, older characters are portrayed as cranky white-hairs who seem regretful and bitter that life has passed them by. They are, of course, caricatures, clearly not representative of real people who’ve passed the half-century mark whose lives are filled with rich experiences and accumulated knowledge.
“We are living healthier and longer,” said AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins in the article ‘Ageism is Hollywood’s Worst Villain.’ It’s a huge opportunity for the entertainment industry, particularly in movies and television, to get more focused on the likes and dislikes of people 50 and over…And 25 percent of people who are moviegoers are people over the age of 50. They are actually putting butts in the seats in the movie theaters.”
Of course, Jenkins made the statement prior to the pandemic lockdown that has hit the film industry hard. Perhaps, the powers that be in movie land might now consider choosing stories that would appeal to seniors, since we have the money to patronize theaters.
It’s a smart idea, but I’m not holding my breath.
Note that TV is no better in the ageism department. Every night, when my sweetie pie and I thumb through the streaming offerings, we get more and more despondent. We have Netflix and Amazon Prime and HBO Max and Sling and often nothing piques our interest.
Recently however, we found BritBox, which offers series and films made, as you might expect, in Great Britain, Australia, and Canada, and there’s a lot to like about their productions.
First, unlike our Hollywood fare, actors in these programs look like regular people. No super models or ridiculously hot dudes need apply. I love that. Female actors face the camera unabashedly showing wrinkles and messy hair, wearing very little make-up. It’s so damned refreshing! It makes our actors look rather cartoonish, by comparison.
I also like the fact that the characters on BritBox are often flawed. They make bad choices. Like us, they’re just trying to get through every day without screwing something up. They don’t drive eighty-thousand-dollar cars. They’re children are not ridiculously cute or precocious. They don’t live in homes that their budgets can clearly not afford.
Since we tend to watch British mystery series and films, I will praise them specifically here. The shows are often shot at incredible locations that make you feel like you’re there, whether it be a beautiful flowered landscape, a five-hundred-year-old castle, or a foreboding, dark seaside village. Their plots are twisted and complicated and make you think. There are sometimes a half-a-dozen possible suspects, making it tough to solve the crime before the detectives do.
By comparison, American-made films and TV shows often lack thoughtful plot lines. I know, I’m a writer, so I’m biased. But how many times have you seen films with enormous budgets that lack even a remotely coherent storyline? If you’re spending a couple hundred million to produce a film, couldn’t you toss a few extra grand at the folks writing the scripts so the story makes sense? I think we older viewers would appreciate the effort.
So, come on. Give us some satisfying characters and plots we can relate to and watch us open our wallets. Remember, there are 77 million Baby Boomers.
Do the math.
Ancient ruins, haunted memories, and a ruthless criminal combine with a touch of mystic presence in this taut mystery about a crime we all must address.
Contemporary Women’s Fiction/Suspense
September 13, 2021
Maggie, a National Park Ranger of Native American descent, is back at The Castle—a six-hundred-year-old pueblo carved into a limestone cliff in Arizona’s Verde Valley. Maggie, who suffers from depression, has been through several traumas: the gang rape she suffered while in the Coast Guard, the sudden death of her ten-year-old son, and a suicide attempt.
One evening, she chases a young Native American boy through the park and gasps as he climbs the face of The Castle cliff and disappears into the pueblo. When searchers find no child, Maggie’s friends believe she’s suffering from depression-induced hallucinations.
Maggie has several men in her life. The baker, newcomer Jim Casey, who always greets her with a warm smile and pink boxes filled with sweet delicacies. Brett Collins, a scuba diver who is doing scientific studies in Montezuma Well, a dangerous cylindrical depression that houses strange creatures found nowhere else on Earth. Dave, an amiable waiter with whom she’s had a one-night stand, and her new boss Glen.
One of these men is a serial rapist and Maggie is his next target. In a thrilling and terrifying denouement, Maggie faces her rapist and conquers her worst fears once and for all.
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