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Oscars Ageism?? See Why New Study Wants #OscarsSoYoung To Be The Next Cause

| Filed under: Film FlickersScarlett JohanssonMeryl StreepOscarsEducational

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The Academy may be doing better in representing people of color this year… but that doesn't mean they're completely off the hook!

Though this year's Oscars nominees are much more inclusive in terms of honoring diverse storytelling through films like Fences, Hidden Figures, and Moonlight, there's still one demo that Oscar films have largely ignored.

Well, there are a lot of stories that still aren't being properly told (but that's a different conversation, Scarlett Johansson) — however, a new report has pointed out the stark lack of representation of seniors in this year's nominees!

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Researchers at USC's Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism looked at the 25 best picture nominees from 2014, 2015, and 2016 and discovered that less than 12 percent of the 1,256 speaking or named characters were 60 years old and up.

That number doesn't quite measure up to the 18.5 percent seniors make up of the U.S. population, OR the 14 percent they make of film ticket buyers.

But it does align with industry trends. In an earlier study, USC researchers found that just 11 percent of characters in the 100 top-grossing films from 2015 were over the age of 59.

Co-author of the study Stacy Smith said this underrepresentation is a "missed opportunity" for studios, explaining:

"When we think about diversity, we often talk about including the usual suspects of race, gender, sexual orientation, people with disabilities, but age is often left out of the conversation. It's a missed opportunity for Hollywood. These are people with disposable income and time on their hands to view and stream and download films."

Makes sense to us!

But Smith said the problem goes deeper, in that seniors who are portrayed on film are usually shown as sickly, docile, or feeling the heat of ageist remarks. These kinds of portrayals only perpetuate certain stereotypes, which can have a negative impact on the health and well being of moviegoers of a certain age.

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Further investigation shows there is also a lack of diversity in these types of roles for seniors on screen.

Of the 148 senior characters in the best picture nominees, 77.7 percent were men and 89.9 percent were white. On the flip side, 6.1 percent of these characters were black, 2 percent were Asian, and not one senior character was Hispanic or Latino.

Only one of the leading roles in all of the best picture nominees was played by a character 60 years or older, which was Michael Keaton in Birdman.

Sure, there's a lot of room for more inclusivity overall in the Oscars, but ageism has always been an issue running rampant in La La Land (the film and the real thing!). After all, Meryl Streep can't do all the heavy lifting herself!

[Image via 20th Century Fox.]

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