When wrinkles get zapped with botulism and old fogies get put out to pasture, it's no wonder that IMDb's first detail is now under fire. Hit any actor, crew, or creator's page and the first thing that pops up, right under that banner of smiling pictures, is the person's date of birth. It's always been there, but now it might go away.

The Wrap reports that the WGA West (Writers Guild) is leading an effort to allow people to remove their birth dates from the website. Spokesman Neal Sacharow says: "The Guild has a contract with IMDb to provide credits information and does not release information on age. We have raised our concerns with IMDb about its listing of ages." Basically, they want them removed from the pages of people who aren't big stars like Angelina Jolie or Leonardo DiCaprio (presumably because their ages are public knowledge) to fight against ageism in Hollywood. As cast and crew hit the big 4-0, they "face fewer job opportunities" and the guilds believe that IMDb's age listings are making the problem worse.

But going after IMDb doesn't fix the problem.
I would think that it would only serve to fool a lazy and pickier Hollywood type, the one who doesn't look at the credit list and see that a crew member has been working on set since the '80s, or an actor played a twenty-something in the early '90s. Anyone looking for talent is going to look beyond the name and birthday to the person's work, and every movie has the year it was released right next to it.

Skimming Tom Cruise's roster for a few seconds and you see that he was playing pilots and bartenders in the late '80s, so he's over 40. (Tom's close to 50.) Randomly, I click on Days of Thunder and then Robert Towne. Ignoring his age, his first screenplay was in 1960, so he's presumably at least 68. (Towne is almost ten years older than that.)Then I randomly hit Ask the Dust, click on the full credits list, and nab Robert K. Lambert. His profile doesn't have an age, but his work as an editor began in 1969, which means that unless he worked on films before he was born, he's over 40.

On top of that, there's meeting the talent. Is the idea that if the age-free folks get past the initial IMDb glance, they'll get the job in spite of their laugh lines and gray hairs? If age is that much of a factor, a meeting would be doomed from moment one.

There is a problem, for sure, but eradicating birth dates really doesn't seem like the answer.

What do you think?
categories Cinematical