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In This Day and Age? The IMDb/DoB Fiasco…

Sometimes I’m amazed at how Hollywood works. Sometimes I’m disappointed. This time, I’m both. Part of me enjoys the stories tear open the seedy underbelly of how Hollywood really operates and reveals the sort of corruption that would make a hard-drinking monologuing private detective blush. Paying Variety to make a negative review disappear, for example. Now it appears that actors are fighting the geeky paradise of the Internet Movie Database in order to get their dates of birth removed from the pages.

According to his resume, he's only 27...

Why? The reason is straightforward enough. Though they are somewhat hesitant to admit it, actors lie about their dates of birth to get jobs. And they worry that have the date that they arrived on this planet plastered up for all to see may somewhat undermine that little white lie and clue producers into the fact that half the cast of Dawson’s Creek were over thirty. So they are leveraging the website to get the information removed from the profiles of these actors/actresses.

Ignoring for a moment the fact that a bunch of people are trying to pressure a source of information into repressing relatively basic information (okay, so this isn’t exactly Google China – but the principle remains the same no matter what the scale), do these actors really believe that an age gap of around ten years is going to fool a Hollywood producer? Particularly when somebody knew it well enough to put it on-line. If a Hollywood executive wants to find out how old you really are, I imagine all he has to do is pick up a phone. Somebody who is willing to talk must know something.

I’m particularly perplexed given the source of these complaints is writers. Not actors, which would almost make sense in my head and where you’d imagine age might actually be a factor. I always figured that writers aged like a fine wine – they got better with age. At least that’s the logic I’ve been working on. I guess I’d better start work on that novel soon, my biological clock is ticking. However, here’s my problem with the situation, and it’s a simple one: how come these guilds are so comfortable with the status quo that they attack the source publishing the information?

Surely this sort of discrimination could be used to spark a public debate on ageism within our culture, using the entertainment industry as a springboard. What surprises me about this is the fact that the studios hiring based on age are escaping any sort of negative coverage. Surely there’s some good old-fashioned public outrage to be had at this truly horrendous activity. Maybe even a name and shame? Let’s crack this nut wide open, like the Chinese casting couch fiasco.

So we’ll likely see this play itself out over the next few weeks, but I have to say I’ll be surprised if the Internet Movie Database gives in. Surprised and disappointed.

14 Responses

  1. I never thought age mattered anymore, what with everybody over thirty being cast as teenagers anyway. I mean, even young people hoping to look older have the prosthetics.

    Screenwriters, I think, either want to appear older for the dramas, maybe the comedies, and younger for the blockbuster stuff. Classic and ironic, is the two major types.

    • Yep, it was the writer thing that got me. I also figured “life experience” was a good thing.

  2. It’s a flippin date of birth for crying out loud. Like you said, you aren’t going to fool anybody into thinking you are younger because it isn’t on facebook. What is a producer more likely to do? Call up the actor’s agent or go on the computer and look up the age on fan made website?

    • I think everyone is missing the point here. The well-known actors won’t try to hide their DOB, it’s public knowledge and they don’t need to since they already “made” it. This only affects the people trying to break into the industry and why would they have to reveal their age when everyone else doesn’t have to when looking for a job?

  3. Uggh. Lame.

    I remember my mom shared a birthday with Tom Cruise (he was such a big deal in the eighties) so we would always watch ET and on HER birthday we watched THREE years as he never aged and she did. She was so pissed by her thirtith birthday that he wasn’t celebrating his that she began to loathe him.

    There is so much awful going on in the world and this is just another example of Hollywoods hypocrisy when it’s trying to tell US to help and be aware and they are more concerned with their effing age appearance. Seriously makes me loathe the industry even though I so desperately love movies.

    Heather lives in a Catch 22.

    • Yep. It’s just so remarkably cynical for an industry built on make believe. Like when you stumble around Disneyworld only to find the guy in the Donald Duck costume with his mask off, making out with a strange lady behind Thunder Mountain. That wasn’t the easiest analogy, but we got there.

  4. Would be surprised if they gave in and they definitely shouldn’t! What is the world coming to 😀

    • Yep, it’s crazy – but pressure is pressure. And they do need SAG and WAG cooperation of other stuff, so it might be pragmatic.

  5. I don’t think it’s a big deal because labor laws in the US prevent employers from asking prospective employees for their date of birth or age to prevent age discrimination. This is really not as much of a big deal as some may make it out to be as age discrimination is REAL and if that prevents some actors/actresses from being discriminated simply because of their ages then I’m all for it. This really only affects the lower end of actors, people trying to break into the industry.

    • I suppose, but isn’t date of birth one of those things you include on a CV, if only to demonstrate you are of a working age (ie not a teenager)? Maybe that’s how it works over here.

  6. That is so fucked up.

  7. I’m starting a petition to remove birthdates from IMDB. Age discrimination is a huge problem in our industry. Both for being too old and too young. Please sign it and pass it on to any and all your friends in the entertainment industry!

    The link is below. Thanks!

    http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/removeagefromimdb/

    Ryan

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