Just when you thought the IMDb was the greatest asset to movie lovers, the site has gone and revealed itself to be less a service to the cinematic community and more of a privilege from another corporate power worried about its public image. It isn't clear when the site instituted this, but as of today the IMDb has a search filter that makes it difficult to locate some titles, specifically pornographic or otherwise sexually explicit titles. These titles include the usual XXX fare, but also include more mainstream films like John Cameron Mitchell's Shortbus and Caligula, which stars Golden Globe winner Helen Mirren.

They aren't gone from the database, though. Shortbus can be found by way of Mitchell, who shows up when searched. The same goes for Caligula, which can be found in a roundabout way via its stars. But the IMDb isn't only filtering out the titles, it is also filtering out some performers who appear in adult titles. At least that's how it seems. The Rabbi Report experimented with the IMDb search and discovered that while most of the Shortbus cast doesn't show up, some large profile porn stars do show up. As further examples, I tested out the names Jenna Jameson, John Holmes and Ron Jeremy -- all were easily searched. Then I looked up The Brown Bunny and the documentary Inside Deep Throat -- neither was easily located.

I'm not sure of the technical difference between The Brown Bunny and Michael Winterbottom's 9 Songs, which The Rabbi Report points out can be found with a simple search. Both feature graphic oral sex, but 9 Songs also features other graphic sex, too. Could it be that the IMDb esteems Winterbottom over Gallo, or that it feels 9 Songs is done with more taste? Either way, the site is drawing a very thin line over what it deems appropriate to reveal to everyday searchers.

Supposedly the filter can be turned off, but only by paid members of the IMDbPro service. And there's no need for regular folks to get that service. Unfortunately it is hard to protest the IMDb by boycotting the site or its owner, Amazon (I just bought a new camera from them! Doh!), because they both continue to otherwise benefit our lives. So, I guess we have to think about what we care about more: an amazing film index and cheap consumer goods or art films with graphic adult content. Sure, erotic cinema isn't going to disappear just because the IMDb isn't promoting it, but I bet it will hurt those little indies already hurt by their NC-17 rating.

(via The Reeler)

Here is Shortbus actor Jay Brannan complaining about IMDb's "adult content blocker" and performing a song:


(via eugonline)