See All Topics

Home / Section: Cartoons

BYU Study: Cartoon stereotypes of elderly common and damaging

A study of children’s cartoons find that characters over the age of 55 are portrayed negatively 38% of the time according to a Brigham Young University study which analyzed 45 hours of Saturday morning and after-school programming.
Tom Robinson, BYU associate professor of communications:

“These stereotypes, when learned at a young age, have a lasting impact,” said Robinson, in a news release. “We don’t want to raise a generation fearful of growing old, or have these children rise to positions of influence and power only to dismiss the older age group because of these stereotypes.”

Brian Crane, the creator of Pickles, the comic feature about an older couple, was also interviewed about his views on depictions of the elderly:

“I would suppose that most cartoonists, like myself, don’t have the primary goal of making a social statement about the elderly in their depictions,” said BYU alumni and creator of the popular comic strip “Pickles” Brian Crane. “Our main goal is to produce work that is amusing and or entertaining.”

“Visit some old folks and make friends with them,” Crane said, when asked for possible solutions. “Listen to their stories about their glory days and enjoy their perspective on what is going on in the world today. They will love telling you, and you just might learn something.”

Community Comments

#1 Paul
August/16/2006
@ 12:57 pm

Just once I’d like to see the criteria – just what is a “negative portrayal?” Is more hair growing from your ears than from your head negative? I would never have thought of Pickles as portraying old folks in a negative light. I find the strip very funny – my wife laughs out loud at it and more often than not gives me a look that says “that’s you.” Negative? Grandma, grandpa, interacting with kids and grandkids, older folks with friends – then again, maybe Brian Crane was quoted just because he has a strip about an older couple, not becaust there’s a hint of negativity about it.

#2 Paul
August/16/2006
@ 6:57 am

Just once I’d like to see the criteria – just what is a “negative portrayal?” Is more hair growing from your ears than from your head negative? I would never have thought of Pickles as portraying old folks in a negative light. I find the strip very funny – my wife laughs out loud at it and more often than not gives me a look that says “that’s you.” Negative? Grandma, grandpa, interacting with kids and grandkids, older folks with friends – then again, maybe Brian Crane was quoted just because he has a strip about an older couple, not becaust there’s a hint of negativity about it.

#3 Alan
August/16/2006
@ 3:06 pm

For clarification, Pickles is NOT used as an example of negative portrayal of the elderly. The author(s) of this article simply went to Brian Crane for his reaction to the study’s findings in as much as 1. he has a comic about old people and 2. he’s BYU alum. He was an easy source for filler quotes.

That said, I do wish they had released more information on what qualified for negative portrayal.

#4 Alan
August/16/2006
@ 9:06 am

For clarification, Pickles is NOT used as an example of negative portrayal of the elderly. The author(s) of this article simply went to Brian Crane for his reaction to the study’s findings in as much as 1. he has a comic about old people and 2. he’s BYU alum. He was an easy source for filler quotes.

That said, I do wish they had released more information on what qualified for negative portrayal.

#5 Jean Rodarte
February/4/2007
@ 3:53 pm

I am a senior citizen. I find Pickles a mirror of my husband and myself. I actually did drive myself to the store, and waited for my husband, forgetting that he did not come with me.
I was not a senior at that time. I was only in my twenties.
Hey, stuff happens no matter how old you are.

#6 Jean Rodarte
February/4/2007
@ 8:53 am

I am a senior citizen. I find Pickles a mirror of my husband and myself. I actually did drive myself to the store, and waited for my husband, forgetting that he did not come with me.
I was not a senior at that time. I was only in my twenties.
Hey, stuff happens no matter how old you are.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.