The forgotten audience: An open letter to Hollywood
by Jill Effron
I’ve never written an open letter to anyone. I’ve written letters on Snoopy stationery to camp penpals, and thank you notes on fancy stationery, but never an open letter. I’m not even sure what an open letter is, but it sounded good in my title, and I’ve read open letters on the world wide web, so they must be a “thing.” Here it goes:
How are you? It’s been a little while since we’ve really had a heart to heart. But I need to tell you something: my grandmother recently passed away from a sudden, massive heart attack at age 96. I know, I’m sad, too. I’ll never forget her. But you have and you’ve forgotten about her friends as well. And since they’re not here to air their grievances, I will be representin’ the 65 and older crowd. (Emphasis on the older part.) It’s the crowd you seemed to forget when you’re making ‘tent-pole’ movies that have a gazillion explosions with weak storylines… or the umpteenth installment of some variation of a superhero movie.
I know, I know. It’s called show business and it’s a business and businesses need to make money. I know that and I’m not telling you not to make those money-making films, but here’s the thing: the older my grandmother got, the less and less she could go to the movies. This was not because she simply wasn’t able to — she lived in a two-story house up until the last hour of her life. It’s because of the lack of content you made available to her. She (and her remaining friends) just wanted to see a ‘nice picture’– a story that tugged at your heart strings or challenged you to think or made you forget that your days are spent at a senior center discussing aches, pains and Medicare.
Yes, she was grateful for films such as Chef or The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel or The Notebook (as was I), but she and her gang of white-haired broads and silver-haired chaps wanted more. And honestly, they deserved more than a movie suited for them once a quarter. Do you realize that’s only two hours out of… sorry, I’m too lazy to stop writing and do the math… but it’s two hours out of a lot of hours, out of a lot of days that they’re just looking for some entertainment? (How’s that math for ya?!) They just want to take a break from mah jong and re-runs of The Golden Girls and get out of the house for a bit. And wait for it… spend some money. (Since they might be the last generation with disposable income — that’s where the business part comes into play. See?)
Hollywood, can I just call you H-wood? No? H-W? Cool. H-W, these people are retired and don’t want to circle the mall for the 48th time; they want to be entertained. And one day, in the not-so-distant future, you’re going to age out of this town, and you’re gonna need something to do in between Botox shots. I suggest in the best interests of your future AARP selves, as well as in honor of my grandmother, and your grandparents, too, please think about this overlooked audience (who has more money in their pockets than the 18-54 crowd) the next time you go to green light or pass on a movie. Then think about the legacy you’re creating in this town. And then think about how you’re going to spend your golden years. And if you need some suitable movie ideas for the older age group, I’ve got a bunch. I’m here to help. Just call if you need me.
All the best,
– Granddaughter and self-appointed mouthpiece for the elderly
In memory of my Grandma, EvelynTags: AARP, Grandmother-grandchild relationship, Hollywood, Jill Effron, Making films for the elderly