Older Women and Cinema: Audiences, Stories, and Stars

Dolan, Josephine ORCID: 0000-0002-7669-9060 (2020) Older Women and Cinema: Audiences, Stories, and Stars. In: The International Encyclopedia of Gender, Media, and Communication. The Wiley Blackwell-ICA International Encyclopedias of Communication . Wiley, pp. 1-9. ISBN 9781119429104

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Despite some positive changes when compared with earlier decades, contemporary Hollywood's engagement with older women is deeply troubling across the spectrum of audiences, stories, and stars. The tastes of older women audiences are routinely ignored while aging female characters speak less dialogue than male counterparts, shore up stereotypes of passive, feminine victimhood, and are effaced from sequel storylines that feature aging action heroes. Some genres do offer positive representations of older women mobilized through discourses of ongoing desirability or genteel intelligence, though these are undermined through the objectification of the aging female body, by a preponderance of female characters bearing the representational burden of abjection in feminized dementia storylines that reiterate superior male intelligence, and by fantasy dramas that rearticulate postfeminist backlash through the figure of the cronish witch‐queen. As narrative closure serves to contain abjection's queer liminal potential it also distances older female stars from the abjection they perform, securing them as acclaimed actors and as embodiments of successfully aging femininity, either as exemplars of a problematic rejuvenatory regime epitomized by the fantasy genre's witch‐queen, or as embodiments of the regulatory and exclusionary regimes of graceful aging and chronological decorum circulating between screens, older female stars, and audiences. Given that both on‐ and off‐screen appearances by aging stars is concealed labor, such appearances contribute to the ideological normalization of deferred retirement as a solution to crisis of aging discourses. Overall, the new visibility of older female stars is both a cause for celebration and deeply troubling.

Item Type: Book Section
Article Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: abjection; deferred retirement; dementia; movies; female movie stars; graceful aging; older women; older women and cinema audiences; older women and genre films
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion Pictures
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Creative Arts
Research Priority Areas: Culture, Continuity, and Transformation
Creative Practice and Theory
Depositing User: Anne Pengelly
Date Deposited: 15 Sep 2020 09:10
Last Modified: 04 Feb 2022 16:45
URI: https://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/8739

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