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A Note From Panel Producer David C. Barry:
While planning this panel, I was shocked by the sheer number of industry people, many of them veterans, who asked me why I was doing it, why did it matter? My answer was: it matters because you think it doesn't matter. Aging affects us all. For those who still doubt this, let me remind you that you'll be a full 30 seconds older by the time you finish reading this paragraph. We age. Why don't we understand this? Why don't we get it? It's an observable truth, kind of difficult to deny. Denial takes effort And yet this resistance and denial is exactly what we've been trained to think of as normal. The entertainment industry – and those of us in it who have the power to either change or reinforce perceptions – bears some responsibility here.
WHAT IS AT STAKE?
And this denial has consequences. Just as age affects us all. So does ageism. Within the entertainment industry, it can determine who gets to write, to act, to direct. It determines who gets to work and cash a pay check. Within our culture, It dictates what stories get told, whose voices get heard; it dictates what goes into our cultural vault for posterity. And not much is being stockpiled – as a consequence, an entire generation is missing both on screen and behind it.
WHY DOES THIS MATTER?
Whether we’re white, black, Asian, gay or disabled, whether we’re younger or we're older, we all need to see real, accurate, three dimensional reflections of ourselves onscreen. It is a validation of our existence within our culture. Without that, we’re invisible, we're silence, we just don't exist.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
We in the industry have an obligation to address this bias in much the same way we address other forms of discrimination. This means writers need to write more age diverse projects or at the very least have a multigenerational cast. And this means that the men and women who have their fingers on the switch that turns on the green light need to take more risks and realize that the risk isn't really that risky given the record number of baby boomers out there. To do otherwise makes little sense, financially or socially.