Wednesday, September 28, 2016

California Censors IMDB Because of Hollywood’s Alleged Ageism

Hit & Run : Reason.com: California Gov. Jerry Brown has only a couple of days left to decide whether he's going to sign or veto an important reform bill that would seriously reduce the ability of local law enforcement agencies to abuse the asset forfeiture process to seize and keep millions of dollars from citizens without having to prove they've committed a crime.

10 comments:

Sarah Boyle said...

This is absurd. Legal issues aside, trying to hide your age isn’t the way to deal with ageism. I’m not arguing that there isn’t ageism in Hollywood, but it isn’t just about a person’s birthdate, it’s also how old they look. Which affects women more than men, and is superficial, and so on. I remember reading an article a while ago about middle aged to older women reaching a point where they either weren’t cast (in favor of a much woman) or playing the same type of minor character. That’s a real problem with both casting and available roles in movies. I’m really not concerned about a 29 year old’s opportunity to play a teenager. Except that maybe a 29 year old shouldn’t be playing a teenager, because that doesn’t sound like very believable casting. It’s not just IMDB, birthdates can be found on Wikipedia or Facebook. IMDB is not the source of the ageism problem, and publishing birthdates isn’t contributing to it. All this time an energy should be directed at casting directors or producers.

Jacob Wesson said...

Wow, that opener is brutal. The fact that there are very real issues that are coming down to the wire in California and the governor chose to focus his attention on the film industry is more than a little ridiculous. Such a specific and silly law attracting the eye of the governor is more of an indictment of the time we live in than anything else, but it's still odd to look at California as a state and where their priorities are. Sarah also makes a good point, ageism isn't strictly about the number of years you've lived, but the look you have. You can be 40, look 20, and still get roles no problem, or be 40 and get good roles for a 40-year-old person. I think that censoring the dates on IMDB of all things is a ridiculous concession to no one in particular, since all of that information is still technically public domain even if one site doesn't put it up. In addition, the law only affects paid subscribers, which is a baffling idea, since the people that are willing to pay for access to a service specifically about movies probably have more than a good idea of the ages of the actors they are looking at. To go back to my earlier point, I'm just so confused as to why something so unimportant has managed to take the government's eye off of the real issues of the day.

Rebecca Meckler said...

I think that blaming IMDB for Hollywood’s problem is ludacris. It’s not IMDB’s fault that Hollywood is agist. I also don’t think this solution helps solve the problem. Though it might not be as easy to find out the actors ages, I’m sure that people will find ways if they want to. I find it interesting that that the screen actors guild pursued this law after a failed court case. I would have thought that if the case couldn’t hold up in court, that it would not be able to hold up as a law. Also, how could you selectively apply this law only to California. IMDB is a national website, so i don’t see how it could only be applied to California. Would this force the law to be applied to all 50 states, even if the law is not active in those states? Despite the other problems that i see in enforcing the law, I don’t think that this law will change the ageism in hollywood.

Aubrey Sirtautas said...

There have been quite a few articles recently about censorship and what is considered censorship and what is not, but this is definitely censorship in the most basic form. Publishing factual information about someone that is already public knowledge is free speech, and preventing someone from publishing something that is already public knowledge is an act against freedom of speech. The thing that I do not understand is even if IMDB does not publish the age of actors, the information is still on the internet in other forms. How will preventing this one site from listing this date prevent an age from not being widely known?
Then, we come to the issue of the ageism itself. Censoring a media outlet will not prevent ageism at large. We need to address the true problem not a symptom of the problem and then someone’s age being published will not be a big deal.

Julian Goldman said...

I feel mixed about this. On one hand, I think it is ridiculous that Hollywood is so worried about age that actors feel like they need to hide their age in order to get jobs. I also don’t like the idea of there being laws about what a website can and can’t post, outside of a website posting something that is directly harming someone, which I think probably should be prevented. At this same time, I think it is reasonable for an individual to not want their birthday posted publically. There is no reason why just because someone is famous we should expect to be able to look up their personally information whenever we want. I suppose that is inevitable with the way the internet is though. If we want there to be free information, there is sometimes going to be situations where there is something posted about an individual that the individual doesn’t like. I think there are cases where people should be able to force a website to take something about them down, but I don’t really think we should sacrifice freedom of information for the sake of hiding Hollywood actor’s ages.

Rachel said...

The bill’s sponsor states “the bill advances an important government interest — that of reducing age discrimination,” but hiding your age does not reduce age discrimination. Capitulating only reinforces the current system. I realize, for an actress, because let’s be honest, women absolutely bear the brunt of ageism in Hollywood, this is a difficult no-win situation. This is their livelihood. Having their age publicly available and easily searchable likely DOES impact their ability to make money and frankly, I can’t blame them for trying to keep their bills paid and food on their table. See the Vulture's article, "Leading Men Age, But Their Love Interests Don’t" for some telling charts. But, and I feel like I’ve been making this point a lot lately, legislating censorship does not solve anything. It’s the easy way out and does nothing to address the underlying problem(s): the cultural acceptance that female desirability is indivisible from youth and that desirability is determined by the body and appearance alone. So, while I understand the impulse to hide the information… it’s ultimately restrictive and useless.

Monica Skrzypczak said...

The fact that they are blaming IMDB for aiding in agism is pretty ridiculous. I love IMDB, I'm on it constantly while watching anything because I love to know who was in what and where I remember seeing people before. I think they only recently started putting on the age of the actor (they used to just put birth date and you had to math that out for yourself), but really, if you wanted to find out how old an actor is all you have to do is a google search of “how old is ___” and before you even press enter google will give you the answer with the predicted search. And I don’t know where they pull the age information from, it could be IMDB, but it most likely is from Wikipedia. They might as well censor the entirety of Wikipedia if they don't want people to find out their ages and not just IMDB, which is never going to happen.

Sabrina Browne said...

If there was ever a time to say "don't shoot the messenger," it would be now. Hollywood has an ungodly amount of superficial problems, including agism, but that's not the fault of IMDB. Information about celebrities is all over the internet, and preventing one website from supplying information isn't going to solve anything. And, as the article says, it is a pretty blatant violation of IMDB's First Amendment rights. Solving Hollywood's superficial problems doesn't have anything to do with limiting information. The bigger problem is perhaps that some felt that this law needed to be put in place in the first place. No job application will not ask for your age anyways. It's saddening that people fear for their job because of their age. That's the problem, but this isn't the solution.

Alex Talbot said...

This is insane. Censoring an entire website because they publish birth dates makes absolutely no sense, and in my opinion helps nothing in terms of the ageism of Hollywood. Just putting a roadblock towards those continuing the ageism helps nothing and just hurts IMDB, a company which in my opinion has nothing to do with this discrimination. Rather than banning IMDB, those involved and affected by this discrimination should take action against those perpetuating it. Banning one website, in my opinion, does nothing but create more trouble, especially considering that this regulation violates first amendment rights allowing IMDB to publish this information. As others pointed out, even if IMDB is banned sites like Wikipedia will still be sources for those hiring, and if the hiring team wants to know the age of the actor or actress, they will find a means to do it. Banning the site helps very little and just infringes on rights.

Sophie Chen said...

Like many have mentioned above, hiding your age isn't going to resolve the issue. Also, if you're a well known actor your birth date is probably already on wikipedia and anyone who can do math will be able to calculate your age. The actors and actresses who want their age to be concealed are probably so caught up with the idea that they want to get roles of characters younger than their actual age since a lot of popular tv/movies these days are centered around young adults. However, they probably forgot the fact that your age says a lot about your experience. There are a lot of complex characters out there that probably can't be played by young actors who still haven't been through that much in life. This article just goes to show, in a way, how superficial our society has become - by trying to hide their age, these actors are essentially saying "ignore all my experiences and who I am as a person, that's not important, just focus on how young I look".

CMU School of Drama