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IMDB Sues California

Posted on 16th November 2016

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This BBC news story reports that IMDB (a huge online database of movies, TV programmes and actors) is suing the state of California over a law requiring it to remove actors' ages at their request. California's reasoning seems to be that publishing actors' ages is discriminatory.

I am afraid that I disagree. The age of an actor is information relevant to casting decisions, to validate the sometimes less than accurate statements made by actors about their life experience, past actions and the reasons for their opinions, and is something that audiences want to know for various reasons.

I do agree that age is made into too much of a headline by the press, when writing about famous people (especially about women), but suppressing this information is going too far: it is censorship, and sometimes readers have valid reasons for wanting to know the age of an actor (or a politician, business person, or other celebrity).

Publishing someone's age is not inherently discriminatory; the important thing is what the reader does with that data. For example, the age of Donald Trump (the oldest person ever elected to the US presidency) is relevant to his suitability for office, and censoring that information would have interfered with proper democratic choice. When applying for a job, I have to submit my CV, and if my age is not in it, I will either be asked my age at interview, or maybe will not even get an interview.

Bruce Willis is famous for doing many of his own movie stunts, despite being born in 1955. That information is not a cause of discrimination, but rather a reason to be impressed with him.

Can we please just apply some common sense to the constant demands for political correctness?