While intermittently glancing up at the Academy Awards show last night, noticed an immediately annoying commercial. The scene panned around a very messy bedroom, while the song “16 Going on 17” from the Sound of Music was playing. Alright, so right off the bat, we’re being told 16-year-olds are irresponsible messy idiots, and already indignant, I waited to see what company was the ageist culprit. Then a voiceover came on saying that some number of 16-year-olds will get their driver’s licenses over the following year, so that a safe car will be needed. And the ageist culprit is… Hyundai.

As in the manufacturers of my Elantra, so I felt especially irritated. -_-

So, as linked above, I posted about this over on the forums, and added to it later when they aired another yet similar one. A bunch of things were going through my mind, wondering what if anything to do about it, lamenting advertisers’ love of stereotyping and belittling teens to sell a product, etc. As well as, well, thinking it could have been worse.

I mean, they were merely saying a safe car was needed, as opposed to recommending tougher restrictions or making disgusting “teen brain” arguments. They weren’t suggesting new laws, but accepting that teens drive and are just new, right? So since it’s not as bad as it could have been, it’s all cool…

No! No, it is not cool! Why compromise here? They still ran a clearly anti-teen ad, so we should be condemning them for that rather than handing them cookies for it not having been worse, for some aspects not being as horribly ageist as they theoretically could have been, when they shouldn’t be running ageist ads to begin with.

Yet, sadly, this tendency to over-rationalize an example of ageism we encounter happens to us a lot. Perhaps doing something about it involves confrontation, which isn’t pleasant for anyone, and to avoid that without feeling guilty for letting ageism slide, we pretend it was so mild as to not be worth making a fuss. Like seeing a store with a sign saying no one under 13 is allowed in without a parent, and thinking “well, at least it’s not 16” and therefore deciding to do nothing. Like a politician wanting to ban the sale of certain video games to teens, and thinking “well, a video game ban isn’t an important issue” and therefore deciding to do nothing. Like a friend of yours remarking that teens should be locked up until they’re 30, and thinking “well, it’s just a remark, I don’t want to compromise our friendship” and therefore deciding to do nothing. I mean, hey, they must have legitimate reasons, so who are you to tell them it’s wrong? So you do absolutely nothing!

And it’s a dangerous slippery slope. Keep up this ageism apologism and you’ll rule out youth rights altogether as being a worthwhile cause. Keep making excuses for the ageists, and nobody will be taking the all too necessary role of telling them no, that what they are doing is not acceptable. If we won’t put our feet down and say NO to companies that run ageist ads, stores with ageist policies, politicians trying to pass ageist laws, our friends making ageist remarks or jokes, etc. no matter how unpleasant and uncomfortable the process may be, then nobody will do it. It’s up to us. We must be the change.

Don’t make excuses for ageists. The rest of our society does that more than enough. And we’re really not demanding anything difficult!


  1. Hmmm. Those who have little to no practice driving drive bad. Surprise, surprise. But it’s not like there aren’t millions of adults who just plain can’t drive. But if they’d aired a commercial to that, it’d be “offensive”…..

  2. If this stereotypical teen cannot even drag himself out of bed with the afternoon sun pouring in his window or turn off a static tuned TV, then how could this thing possibly operate a vehicle safely. We all know that teenagers are an inept, sub-human species that should be exiled for the rest of our safety. But, since we cannot exile them, buying this car is our next best option. (At this point my sarcasm should be palpable, if not then I will say it straight out) This ad is blatantly ageist. Maybe Hyundai should go after Asian drivers next, now that would be an effective ad campaign!

  3. You know what? Senior drivers can run around without anything but a simple eye check. But unlike teens, seniors are politically powerful because they vote and, without having any schooling or work, can spend all the time they want to whine and protest. I’m damn tired of this. What are they contributing to society? We are the future, all they do is soak up Medicare and Social Security money. Yes, we don’t have quite as much experience and maybe hormones come into play. But the brains of seniors lose their processing and decision capabilities with time. All drivers over 70 should be required to get a retest every five years. Yet if they pointed that out, a crowd of retirees would picket every Hyundai dealer in the US. Us? We’re too busy writing our term papers. For those who can, unite to protest this still-accepted form of discrimination, just like people demolished racism and sexism before. Fight for your rights, and we will have our place in the world.

  4. I agree about that Hyundai ad. When I saw that ad, I was furious. I immediately wrote Hyundai an email explaining that ageism is a form of prejudice and that their commercial exploited stereotypes of a vulnerable and marginalized group of Americans.

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