As progressive as society is becoming, some issues are still left unaddressed.  Sexism, prejudice against the LGBT community, and racism have all been relevant recently, yet there exists one subject that has yet to be broached: ageism.

 

Perhaps no industry illustrates this underreported prejudice more than the entertainment industry. Actress Maggie Gyllenhaal recently received news that she — at the age of 37 — has become too old to play the love interest to a 55-year-old man in an upcoming film.

 

Gyllenhaal spoke to interviewers, stating:

“It was astonishing to me. It made me feel bad, and then it made me feel angry, and then it made me laugh.”

 

To put this casting decision into perspective, Daniel Craig premiered in the role of James Bond — one of the most iconic male sex symbols in the history of cinema — at 36 years old. He has spent the last decade thriving in that role.

 

Ageism in Hollywood has not gone unnoticed. Veteran actress and sex symbol Jane Fonda spoke out about rampancy of such issues. She believes we have allowed a double standard to fester: the aging of men makes them seem more “powerful,” but “ for [women], it’s all about trying to stay young.”

 

A photo of Jane Fonda at the start of her career compared to a current portrait of her.

Women in Hollywood are receiving criticism for their age rather than praised for their success. (assets3.heart.co.uk)

She went on further to explain that as a result of this ageism, many actresses resort to unnecessary cosmetic procedures in attempts to keep looking young and to stay relevant.

 

Upon examination, Fonda’s words have serious validity. Men like Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey, who were ranked among ET’s list of the sexiest men in Hollywood last year, are well into their 40s. We’ve created a culture where the shelf life of a man’s sex appeal by far outlives that of a woman’s.

 

This problem extends beyond the world of Hollywood as well. At 67, Hillary Clinton’s age has been called into question. Even a New York Post article dated one year ago derided her status as “Grandma Hillary” in response to Chelsea Clinton’s pregnancy.

 

Bringing everything full circle, Maggie Gyllenhaal is an Oscar nominated actress with one of the most respectable resumes in Hollywood. Women should be evaluated — in any industry — based on the quality of the work produced rather than the year of their birth.

 

Do you think ageism is an issue in Hollywood? What other industries has this become an issue in? Comment below or tweet @connerws to keep the conversation alive!