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Is America aging successfully? A message from Media Cartoons

Communication & Cognition

Author: Polivka, J. S.
Type: Journal Article
Year: 1988


An analysis is presented of 84 cartoons from magazines to examine the premise that cartoon humor would illuminate societal attitudes toward 5 selected role components of older persons in the U.S. Four components-sexuality, power, authority, & self-sufficiency-deliver an overwhelmingly negative message about growing old in the U.S. The fifth role component, age-relatedness, is the only one that suggests a modicum of positive societal recognition, indicating that society is begrudgingly taking serious notice of old people. In a majority of cartoons, old people poke fun at old people; ie, they ridicule themselves. Perhaps, since the old are ridiculing each other, the ridicule might ring more true. The hypothesis that the more incongruity found in the cartoons about the issue of aging, the more uncertainty about the role of the aged exists, is borne out. It is concluded that despite a modest gain in societal recognition, the process of aging, as portrayed through humor in the news media cartoons, can hardly be considered a success.

Further Details

Pages: 97-106
Volume: 21
Issue: 1
Accession Number: 27.5.03
Keywords: North America, older
Reads: 223