According to The Wrap, The Writers Guild is asking (well, actually pressuring is more like it) the internet movie database IMDb to remove the ages of the actors, writers and directors it lists on its site. The Writers Guild is stressing to IMDb being older than is ‘acceptable’ in Hollywood culture can negatively impact an actor, writer or director’s ability to get a job in the movie industry because, as well all know, Hollywood is ‘ageist’. Therefore the ages of IMDb listed people should be taken off their database. Now, as much as I’m a supporter of The Writers Guild and the work they do, in this case they are as wrong as wrong can be.
By asking IMDb to take down age information, The Writers Guild is telling older actors, writers and directors you should be ashamed of how old you are. Don’t embrace it, hide it and pretend it doesn’t exist.
In fact, if The Writers Guild really cared about older actors, writers and directors they should be encouraging their members to write more parts for older actors, and should be pressuring the studios to look at scripts by older writers and hire older directors to shoot their movies. Instead, The Writers Guild is saying “Age is just a number” then proving themselves that it’s not, by saying that “number” shouldn’t be out there for public view.
In a world (Hollywood) where the only thing that seems to be valued is the young, this will only change when older actors, writers and directors produce a body of work that is admired for what it is and are not ashamed of how old they are when they do it. Discrimination in any shape or form is allowed to exist as long as people support it and as long as people hide it when they are being discriminated against. If actors came out saying “I’m 60 years old and proud of it”, don’t you think Hollywood would have a lot less power in discriminating against those people?
After all, when you hide the discrimination and pretend it isn’t happening to you because (after all you tell yourself (incorrectly) you’re not ‘old enough’ for that), then you’re as complicit in the discrimination as the people who are discriminating against you.
By reporting age information, the IMDb is doing nothing more than reporting facts and, in fact, if the person’s age isn’t listed on IMDb it, to me and a lot of other people, it looks a little suspicious. In a search on the IMDb last week, I came across one actress who didn’t have her age listed either on IMDb or anywhere else on the internet.
What that told me was she was ashamed of her age and that she was an ‘older actress’. Looking at photos, it was easy to figure out she was. That actress would have done better to have her age listed and be proud of it, instead of trying to hide her age, when her photos quite markedly proved the number she was trying to hide.
As a woman in her 40s, I’m proud of my age, proud of what I’ve achieved and proud of the work I produce. I want role models in Hollywood who are also proud of how old they are, how they look and what they can do. Helen Mirren just had a series of nude photographs published in New York magazine this week. What’s so remarkable about that? She’s 65 years old and refuses to hide who she is and what she looks like. Now THAT’S who I want as my role model, not some actress who’s terrified of revealing her real age because The Writers Guild says she shouldn’t.
So, Writers Guild, stop pushing a point that in the Age of Information is stupid at best (age information is available all over the internet, so after IMDb who do you pressure next?) and go back to what you do best. Working for the rights of writers to be paid well and treated well. Their age should have nothing to do with it.