'Grey is the new green'? Gauging age(ing) in Hollywood’s upper quadrant female audience, The Intern (2015), and the discursive construction of 'Nancy Meyers'

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Nancy Meyers’s 2015 film, The Intern, was met by an often lukewarm reception but made close to $200m worldwide. The story of a successful young fashion start-up entrepreneur Jules (Anne Hathaway), who hires a ‘senior’ (citizen) intern Ben (Robert de Niro) to become her assistant, Meyers struggled to get the film greenlit despite her films having collectively grossed well over $1billion, and despite films with intergenerational appeal being said to constitute ‘the industry’s holy grail’ (Cox, 2012). This essay examines how in the media reception of this and other of Meyers’s films, her presumed appeal to older women fans in particular is consistently positioned dismissively by critics, a discourse in which she is pigeonholed as a ‘mom-com director’ (McDermott, 2015). Such disdain is tied to the fact that Meyers is herself an older woman director, an unlikely conjunction made to augment this regularly disparaging critical environment, in which Meyers is discursively constructed through an ageist/sexist lens that has debarred her from ‘the exclusive realm of celebrity directors’ (Sims, 2014: 191). Through interrogating the cultural positioning of ‘Nancy Meyers’, her work and her older women fans together, one uncovers how these sites are interwoven junctures in a shared matrix. Thus the essay’s multi-perspectival method brings to light both the breathtaking spectrum of intertwined ways in which older and ageing women are sidelined and undermined across culture, and how the agendas of celebrity studies, audience studies and cultural gerontology might productively intersect. © 2018, Taylor & Francis. The attached document (embargoed until 22/11/2019) is an author produced version of a paper published in Celebrity Studies, uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self- archiving policy. The final published version (version of record) is available online at http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/19392397.2018.1465296. Some minor differences between this version and the final published version may remain. We suggest you refer to the final published version should you wish to cite from it.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)166-185
JournalCelebrity Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 22 May 2018


  • Nancy Meyers
  • intergenerationality
  • older women audiences
  • The Intern
  • ageing celebrity
  • women directors

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