The discourse of middle age includes a commonly-held perception that it is a time of crisis resulting in unusual, atypical, dramatic or extravagant behaviours. The aim of this study was to find out if the discourse of middle age, as depicted in comedy film, supports this stereotype. Three comedy films were reviewed using dispositive analysis to critically-evaluate the actions, objects and language employed to represent middle age on-screen. The findings show that crisis, sparked by a fear of ageing and with some distinct gender differences, is a frequent feature of on-screen middle age. Building on the generally accepted hypothesis that negative stereotyping results in the development of prejudices, the findings suggest that negative representations of ageing start well before old age and therefore contribute to the process whereby film audiences are inculcated with material which engenders ageist views and behaviours.


Middle Age, Mid-Life Crisis, Comedy Film, Dispositive Analysis, Critical Discourse Analysis


The authors are affiliated to James Cook University in Queensland Australia. Jane Mills and David Lindsay are Associate Professors in the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Nutrition and Margaret Gatling is a PhD candidate.

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