In an interesting move, California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill that will prevent IMDb from listing the ages of certain film stars at their request.
According to Deadline, the move was welcomed by SAG-AFTRA who believe that the removal of actor ages from IMDb Pro is a positive step in order to combat age discrimination, yet will likely face First Amendment opposition for doing so.
Just to be clear, this restriction does not affect anyone normally visiting the website but just those who are members of the IMDb Pro feature. This mainly applies to “commercial online entertainment employment providers” that use the service to hire actors, where any possible age discrimination could take place.
SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris made a statement to the union: “Age discrimination is a major problem in our industry,” where the publication of people’s DOBs has been seen as having negative impact in terms of employers choosing who to hire.
Once the bill was signed into law, Carteris also declared:
“SAG-AFTRA has been working hard for years to stop the career damage caused by the publication of performers’ dates of birth on online subscription websites used for casting like IMDb…Currently, many websites used for casting proactively present birthdates and ages to casting decision makers who often can’t avoid seeing this information even if they try. That’s wrong for performers, just like it’s wrong for all employees.”
The consensus remains that actors, and women in particular, are discriminated against when it comes to hiring. It’s a sad reality that they’re judged on age - only last year Monica Bellucci was making headlines as the oldest Bond girl ever, but there have been plenty of reports from various corners that actress have not gotten parts because producers are seeking younger face.
“Unfortunately, it is common practice for casting directors and producers to use web sites such as IMDb and IMDb Pro to access information about actors, which can contain age information that should not be part of the casting decision,” she goes on to say.
But with Wikipedia and the normal version of IMDb still including ages and DOBs, it surely won’t prevent ageist employers from making a decision based on birth date, will it?
Picture credit: IMDb, Sony Pictures