Teens against women: Hollywood’s secret struggle

In his Slate column, Edward Jay Epstein looks at the glass ceiling for Hollywood actresses, who tend to run out of roles to play when they hit, uh, 30 or so. Whose fault is that? Well, it’s those damn kids.

The studios zero in on teens not because they necessarily like them or because they buy buckets of popcorn, but because they are the only demographic group that can be efficiently motivated to leave their homes in large numbers. Even though lassoing this teen herd is enormously expensive-more than $30 million a film-the studios profit from the fact that this young audience is also the coin of the realm for merchandisers such as McDonald, Domino’s Pizza, and Pepsi. The studios depend upon these companies for tie-in deals that can supply $100 million or more in advertising to a single film and can expand the primary audience for DVDs, video games, and other licensable properties on which the studios now rely on for their economic survival.

And apparently, movies that appeal to teens tend to not have substantial roles for actresses past that first bloom of youth. So, to all you unemployed over-thirty actresses out there toiling away at service industry jobs, please take a moment to turn to your teenage co-barrista and toss a latte in his face.