Media Misrepresentation of the Elderly

In this response, I will discuss how old grandpas are depicted in different shows as being crazy and annoying characters as seen in the case of The Simpsons with grandpa Abraham and other shows as well. In some shows, they are often drunk, loud, and obnoxiously out of control seen in Rick and Morty with Morty and grandpa Rick who is constantly drunk and getting into trouble. This is also seen in Drake and Josh, with Papa Nichols who’s loud persona is often seen as obnoxious and crazy. The public often sees these characters as nothing more than a joke. The success of these shows continues as The Simpsons have been renewed for its 29th and 30th season. Rick and Morty has also announced their renewal for season 3. Although Drake and Josh no longer make episodes, their show had a very successful 4 seasons.

Although these 3 shows share this negative depiction of Grandpas characterized as being drunk or obnoxiously crazy, their viewers differ. In the case of Drake and Josh, their show was on Nickelodeon, which tends to cater to the middle-aged children. Having a television show classification of TV-Y7, which mean kids 7 years and older. Similar shows to Drake and Josh would be for example iCarly because it is also intended for the same group of audience. In the case of Rick and Morty, they have a show rating of TV-14, which is similar to shows like Family Guy and other Adult Swim shows. Adult Swim shows typically have inappropriate jokes and mild nudity. The Simpsons, on Fox, also has television show guide of TV-14 because this show displays similar content to that of Family Guy, including mild profanity with words such as “bitch” or “bastard”. Which is why these shows are recommended for people older than 14 years of age. Regardless of the television guide rating, these shows all share a similar depiction of the Grandpa.

These shows are meant to entertain. They are meant for people to be able to laugh at topics and issues that in a public setting they might feel wrong joking about topics that these shows often discuss. This show is great in the privacy of your own house because some issues that are discussed can be controversial. For example in, The Simpsons there are discussions on issues like same-sex marriage, a serious issue for many people. However, this show manages to discuss this problem and still keep its funny sense of humor. In the case of Rick and Morty, the 5th episode of season 1 had a controversial rape scene. This scene took many viewers back because, typically, Rick and Morty do not touch on such sensitive topics such as rape. When viewers watched this episode of Rick and Morty, some people may have experienced discomfort or feelings of surprise because Grandpa Rick is the reason why this show is different and engages many people. But the rape scene caused a lot of uneasy feelings through its viewers. Nonetheless, their season continued and is still successful.

Another issue that The Simpsons and Drake and Josh have in relating to their grandfathers and the way they act has to do with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Both grandpas in these shows have served in the army and while their crazy behavior is found amusing to some people, it displays the scary negative side effect that could come with serving in a war and the impact it could have on your mental health. In Drake and Josh, Papa Nichols often wakes up from naps and screams “USA! USA! The USA!” or has flashbacks of his time that he served in the war. Reminding all of us that even though the shows main purpose is to bring its viewers laughter, Papa Nichols suffers from this mental health illness. In The Simpsons, grandpa Abraham is also a war veteran who seems to suffer from the conditions of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as well. While both these grandfathers suffer from this real mental illness, the shows make no effort in trying to understand the characters and instead simply make fun of them and use their personality as a way to humor the show through a crazy grandpa. Due to shows lack of understanding of grandfathers, nothing is done about their problems and the show continues to make humor out of this mental disorder even though it should not be taken lightly and should be looked at more closely.

This media is changing how a typical grandfather is seen on television, at least in these shows. The characters in all three shows view their grandfathers as an annoying, crazy and an old drunk. In the show Rick and Morty we see the grandfather, Rick, with foam coming out of his mouth, symbolizing when he is drunk. This state of mind adds on to the craziness of Rick and how he always gets into some sort of problem and Morty, his grandson, has to help him or bail him out from certain situations. In the case of Drake and Josh, Papa Nichols is viewed as a grandfather who is simply there to make the audience laugh but this causes the family to become annoyed with the grandfather. In this show, taking care of their grandfather is seen as more of a chore then, something they would enjoy doing. This mindset is due to the fact that the creators of the show followed this similar trend of also making Grandpa Nichols a crazy old man. Poppa Nichols is always causing problems and acts very obnoxious and the family does not know how to the handle the old man’s episodes. A similar trend is seen in The Simpsons interpretation of an old man, who also views Grandpa Abraham as someone who is more of a bother and completely senile. In most cases, The Simpsons characters do not even want to interact with Grandpa Abraham unless they are laughing at the way he acts around the family. While to me these old grandpas do not seem vital to the shows themselves. The creators use them to engage the audience and encourage laughter due to actions of old people. In society, there is a norm where old people should have the up -most respect from everyone due to their age. However, in these shows, they are not respected. In fact, they are only laughing at which goes against how society tends to view these groups of people. I feel that the intentions to include these old people are to break the norm that is apart of our society and instead be yet another humorous factor to the comedy.

It is important to analyze and critique the media objects in these shows because these comedies tend to look at the real issues of old people and use their problems that they have, such as alcohol abuse and PTSD to make fun of them instead of trying to help these characters with these illnesses. Too many times have comedies taken a social issue and turned them into a joke, not realizing the real effect that these people have to suffer every day. Looking at a grandpa shouting “USA USA USA!” Might make their viewer laugh because this is not the typical behavior of a grandpa. However, these shows do not take into considering that PTSD is a real disorder and people do suffer from it. Instead of making fun of such an illness they should want to help these grandpas, not simply ignore them and use them as a way to engage viewers in laughing at this metal disorder. This happens in the case of The Simpsons and Drake a Josh, which has a wide range of viewers, however, they chose to make fun of certain illnesses because of ratings instead of educating the audience and bringing attention to these life threating issues. Most shows would not care about educating their audience because it is not there main focus; many of these shows do anything in order to get more ratings. By educating people, it could lead to having audience members who actually question their media instead of absorbing it passively.


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