The IMDb (Internet Movie Database) message boards are closing down. A remnant of the old Internet order in terms of concept and function, I am nevertheless a little heartbroken that I can no longer go there to discuss movies and TV. It doesn’t mean that people will stop discussing movies online altogether. You have ALL of social media to prove that there’s always going to be a place to reach out, share your opinions and learn from, but a website like IMDb getting rid of its discussion boards is like a book shop hosting a book club where nobody is allowed to speak.
The inevitable personal journey down memory lane is coming up in this blog post (for a blog post, unlike IMDb, allows me to speak). I’ve always loved movies. So does everybody else, which is what makes this relatively recent art form the most popular in all cultures. Movies help connect people better than music, literature, sports, politics or even the weather. You may tiresomely comment on the rain to your fellow passengers while commuting on a train, but you automatically get livened up if someone brings up La La Land. The discussion brings up three kinds of people: those who love it, those who don’t, and those who haven’t seen it. However, everyone is either informed or gets informed about it through discussion, where a substantial amount of information originates from IMDb (because only the eccentric ones sit through the end-credits. Don’t be offended if you’re one of them, for I am one too.).
Sure, IMDb is retaining every other feature that makes it so convenient for anybody who is interested in movies. You need a quote to look up? Go to IMDb. You need to find out about a song featured on the soundtrack? IMDb’s the place. There is still some say that users are allowed to have, in the form of reviews (which are often brilliantly written) but it cannot compensate for the more comprehensive and excitable conversations you could have at the discussion boards. After all, there is a difference between a discussion and a review. A well thought-out argument, and a pithy tweet. A Facebook post that seems out of place, for it does not have a context, and it is harder to find people who would be interested in it, unlike a database that has all the information you want.
In all the years I’ve been using IMDb, I’ve mostly been a silent spectator. Sometimes, I’ve had the need to vent or praise, having more success with the latter than the former. Trolling is one of the reasons that IMDb has shut down the boards, for it is understandable that moderation can be a difficult, tedious job. However, not every negative opinion is by a troll. In a particular instant, I remember I could not help myself from asking the universe if they found the portrayal of Bob Dylan by a certain actor as deplorable as I did. This actor already had a bad reputation for acting in a blockbuster movie franchise. I did receive some well-presented arguments in the actor’s defence, as well as other replies which carried my opinion further. But, the overall discussion did not prove to be as satisfactory as I had hoped. It’s one thing to be talking among friends, telling why you love or hate a movie. It is another to see it in writing, where the vitriol that is unleashed is leaps and bounds ahead from the relatively light disdain you may have felt for what is, after all, just a movie.
However positive or negative, such discussions show that we care. About films. That it’s not just a pastime, but a passion. Anywhere else, say Reddit or Tumblr, there isn’t that sort of a context, or intimacy, that you had at IMDb, no matter how dated some of its features might be. Even with WordPress, it is so much harder to find that sort of a community. IMDb is most useful for little-known films, whether obscure or of a small budget, where it’s just a handful of people sharing how they engaged with the film, a discussion that might even be impossible to find anywhere else.
I’m sure I’ll move on. I’ll find some place else, some other medium to help further my experience as a movie-viewer by sharing my views or hearing others pitch in. That’s the power of cinema, and it is more powerful than any other art form, for it combines the best of all of them – sight and sound.
Where do you discuss movies?
Read my last post: Folk Song – A Poem