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Ageist Underpinnings of Censorship

Is there a requisite dialogue on ageism in the contemporary backdrop of moving towards inclusivity? Has censorship been scrutinised with regards to dividing generations across different spheres?

Ageism is a multi-faceted concept, describing the complex phenomenon of differential treatment on grounds of age, thus landscaping a generational divide among human beings as social individuals. Erdman B. Palmore, a distinguished gerontologist, has talked about various underlying causes under an institutional pattern for the same in his work, family, healthcare, political debates, economy, housing, etc. Furthermore, ageism can be deduced to be a clear violation of fundamental rights from an epidermal study of multidisciplinary literature on equality and inclusivity. Freedom of speech and expression is widely recognised to be a driving factor of quality indices of democracy. The conventional regulation of the same happens under the ambit of “censorship practices”, i.e., censorship curbs content and ideas which may be “inconvenient”, otherwise made inaccessible to its audience. Since it exhibits a sense of control on ideas being presented, it plays a role in structuring the behavioural dimension of ageism both explicitly and implicitly.

Intelligence is wealth that can be transacted via various mediums, and these mediums experience constant growth in a dynamic setting. Any form of growth is threefold: form, content and ideology. The media has successfully tapped into it. Here, conventional media refers to newspaper, radio and television, and newer forms include internet and social networking platforms, which perform the task of transacting intelligence with a touch of innovation. Thus, variations in the degree of censorship across different platforms of media are inevitable; needless to mention how censorship controls the deliverables of ingenuine bureaucratic state of affairs. Conventional forms of media experienced political polarisation in the form of the biases of the huge media houses. The newer forms of media still experience a sense of decentralisation and ambiguous censorship, making them more susceptible to extremes such as fallacies and candour in information, therefore they provide a greater public interaction. This is indicative of how subjection to intelligence varies across media forms.

“Through a study on media interaction across varied age groups, an opposite pattern of disparities in younger and older age groups for connections to traditional media was revealed, while the socioeconomic disparity in Internet scope was found among the senior age group, the disparities in connecting to traditional media were found among the younger age groups. That is, more variations in Internet connectedness are found in the oldest age group, while more variations in mass media connectedness are found in the younger age groups.”
~Connectedness and Disconnectedness to new and old media within different age groups, Joo-Young Jung
Looking at the above analogy through a political lens, as per a study by Poverty Action Labs, the informational effect of more exposure to the news has a strong effect on voting patterns and political preferences. The argument being suggested is, different generations participate in different media forms. These media forms are susceptible to different degrees of red-tapism. This in turn provides analytics that are subject to different standpoints, thus creating a generational divide in the climate of opinions of policy-making. The core reasoning behind ageist conceptions lies in the inability to curb a generation gap, and the aforesaid argument represents how censorship ultimately leads to the strengthening of ageism in the political arena. To elucidate, it is true how conventional media users tend to adjudge the ideologies (justifying the polarisation) and users of newer forms of media adjudge the transactor as well as the ideologies (justifying the dynamic belief system). This lays the foundation of varying political opinions. Xers and millennials bend towards static notions and centennials are inclined more towards dynamic notions, when it comes to the bureaucratic school of thought.

Looking at the analogy thus drawn from a communal lens, degrees of content inspection repress the dissent and deliberation which form an indispensable base for checking stereotyping and rigidity in societal norms. It becomes obligatory to talk about social evils from various standpoints, and the inability to do so creates parity in understanding the issue and sensitization towards the same. The inability, being referred to here, can be validated by the list of bureaucrats indulging in double standards for protection of free speech including Donald Trump, Florissa Fuentes etc. They decry the Cancel Culture and #MeToo Movement while using their authority to control their public perception, as suggested by NBC News.

To demonstrate the same, in India, conventional media still does not transact adequate discourse over issues like gender inclusivity and cultural integration. While the newer forms of media, either confers fallacies of victimisation or portrays the impromptu reality. Again, since the usage of media and its blue pencilling varies across age groups, the degree of sensitization varies, which in turn leads to a gap in acknowledgement and acceptance of others’ inconvenience. An example to validate the same can be how Bollywood movies like “PK” and “Udta Punjab” were received otherwise by different age groups, and ended up experiencing a distortion of their principal idea due to censorship. Not only this, there is bowdlerization when it comes to explicit content, regardless of its intent. There are several instances when even social media platforms impose regulatory guidelines on ideas and graphics, which aim at creating awareness over sensitive issues. Various certified sex educators namely Gigi Engle and sexual awareness brands namely Emojibator have reported similar concerns, as per an interview in UK Vice. The very lack of transparency over issues such as sexual awareness bolsters a generational divide, and censorship adds fuel to the fire by smearing realities.

While most deliberations centred around censorship deal with the essentiality of freedom of expression, it is paramount to move forward to reiterate the causes and implications of censorship with regard to ageism. The moot point is gauging the state’s inability to handle audience hostility to preserve family values, while itself being a cause of uprooting family values, by paving scope for moral policing and communication gaps. Political and socio-economic challenges will persist to happen in any civilization, which is evident due to the coexistence of diverse individuals, aiming to establish a grey region for several debates. However, the core problem which remains overshadowed is how the state’s control to eliminate controversial propositions leads to the strengthening of other controversies, or as talked above, the role of censorship in enhancing ageist insights.

Chhavi Agrawal
Undergraduate Student At SRCC

DOI 10.26363/SN.2018.2.03
DOI: 10.1257/app.1.2.35
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