WASHINGTON — Longtime actress Doris Roberts blasted Hollywood Wednesday for perpetrating ageism, which she said should be treated like biases against gender and ethnicity.
Testifying before the Senate Special Committee on Aging, Roberts said the younger gatekeepers controlling the plotlines and the casting are often clueless, swept up in the nation’s fierce obsession with youth.
“It is a tyranny that suppresses us all at any stage and serves no one,” said Roberts, 71, who plays the mother on CBS’ “Everybody Loves Raymond.”
The actress, who is up for a second Emmy for her role on “Raymond,” said she has been among the fortunate.
Many of Roberts’ actress friends haven’t been so lucky and have been forced into the humiliating position of having to borrow money from her.
Roberts said she herself was recently offered a movie playing a “horny grandmother who spewed foul language,” exposed herself and chased young boys.
“Although I turned down the job, I know someone took the part,” testified Roberts, admonishing her thespian peers to take a stand.
“We actors have let go of our responsibility to see that we are portrayed realistically because we are desperate for any part in any production,” she testified.
Sen. John Breaux (D-La.), chairman of the special committee on aging, said Hollywood should get a clue and realize that older actors and actresses are vibrant and needed. By playing positive roles, they can make older auds feel a part of the culture.
“It is clear that the entertainment, marketing and news industries value youth. What this hearing will address today is the fact that, often, the media’s obsession with youth comes at the expense of older Americans,” Breaux said.
“Just as it is wrong to stereotype and discriminate against people because of their race, religion or gender, so too is it wrong to stereotype and discriminate against people simply because they are old,” he said.