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The Internet Movie Database is a website that allows the user to find a seemingly infinite amount of information. You can type in the name of your favorite actor or actress and find out everything that they have ever done in the movie industry, whether it be acting, producing, writing, special effects, or anything else that you can think of. The site also provides any information available for future projects. Beyond the world of movies, you even get information of the television shows that they may have been a part of and even what video games they may have provided a voice for.
Many of the actors and actresses also have a small section that provides trivial information about their lives. These are all some pretty cool features; however, the best parts of this website are the movie rating system and the message boards. The rating system is based on a 1 – 10 scale, and it uses a weighted average. The ratings section also provides charts of ratings for different age groups, sex, and the combination thereof, along with US and non-US citizens, Top 1000 voters, and the staff of imdb.com. The message boards provide lots of commentary about any particular movie, the stars of the film, or any social issue that may be represented in it.
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Recently, I found out that imdb.com is an Amazon.com company, which after thinking about it isn’t all too surprising. Amazon.com was one of the first websites to allow users to rate an item, but the rating system that they use is far inferior to that of imdb.com. Amazon has a 5-star review system, where it seems like everything has an overall 4 or 5 stars. I know for a fact that every item released is not capable of obtaining a 4 or 5 star rating, so I do not invest too much faith into the reviews that I see on that site. Imdb.com has a much more elaborate rating system that seems to make much more sense. Although they do not provide the methods that they use to come up with the ratings, they do provide that the ratings on this site are weighted to keep people from jacking up the ratings of a particular movie.
The Internet Movie Database acts as a voice for anyone who wants to express their opinions of a film. Anyone with Internet access can go online and give a rating for a movie and then go to the discussion section and provide reasoning for their rating. “Play has always been an important aspect of our individual efforts to build identity” (Turkle, 243). Movie viewers can go online and act as a critic and use their opinions of issues represented by a film in the discussion section to provide an identity for themselves. With the simple task of filling out a free registration form, you will instantly be able to critique any movie as you see fit. You even have the ability (although it costs money) to change the picture for a movie or a star on their page. This site provides the opportunity for anyone to voice their opinions and get responses to them.
Many times when I get done watching a movie, I will go online and see if I was the only one who liked or disliked a movie, and often time, I find that the ratings that people give movies on imdb.com are very similar to what my opinion is. If a movie grasps a high level of interest to me, I will look into the message boards to see what people think. Many times, I find that people bring up interesting points and reasoning for why they chose to give the rating that they did, but then there are also the times where ignorant people say that they hated the movie for some completely pointless reason. On a couple of occasions, I have seen a post get put up where the person explains that they hate the movie solely because they don’t like one of the actors, and I have even seen it where someone tears a movie apart saying that it’s the worst thing ever when they later admit that they have never even seen it.
“The most socially useful goal (of new communication tools) will no doubt be to supply ourselves with the instruments for sharing our mental abilities in the construction of collective intellect or imagination” (Levy, 258). I have seen posts in multiple discussion rooms for different movies explaining their politics in reference to specific issues that are represented in many movies; often times by reading some of these posts you can get a pretty good understanding of what a person stands for. “Machines enable new forms of decentralized dialogue and create new combinations of human-machine assemblages, new individual and collective “voices,” “specters,” “interactivities” which are the new building blocks of political formations and groupings” (Poster, 266). The people in the discussion sections often times have created a thumbprint of their political views in an online movie forum. In some instances, there are some pretty good discussions of political issues, one recent case would be in the forum for the movie, “Team America: World Police”, this movie’s discussion room has a lot of current political discussion about the war in Iraq and the recent presidential election. In these discussions, many different points of view were being presented, which shows that there is a diverse audience using this site. This proves that a website can act as a collection of ideas and thoughts of important current events as people use the Internet as voices to express their ideas in a decentralized location.
Although this site is organized by and is an Amazon.com site, it feels a lot more informal, which I believe it adds to its effectiveness. Before I knew of the sites origins, I thought that the site was actually run by the people who use it, which is true to a point. The makers of the site put up a general section of information for each new movie and actor/actress and then the people who use the site go through and modify things as they see fit as well as provide all the ratings and discussion that make the site what it is. The design of the site is fairly simple; there are a lot of links and three main colors: beige, blue, and white. This site is not supposed to look really exciting; it’s the information that is supposed to grasp your interest. The image use is very important throughout the site, whether it be for a movie’s page or that of an actor or actress. For movies, typically the picture on their page is the theatrical poster picture, and for the actors/actresses most of the time the pictures are of them from a popular role that they played. As stated earlier, these images can be changed for a fee; in the time that I have used this site (a little over a year) I have not really noticed too many changes in the pictures of some of my favorite searches.
The Internet Movie Database would not exist in the manner that it does without hypertext. Theodor Nelson explained hypertext as, “Nonsequential writing – text branches and allows choices to the reader" (Landow, 100). This site is solely dependant upon the fact that you can go wherever you want from movie to movie, actor to actress, or any possible path that you can come up with. I feel this helps create the informal experience to the viewer, because you truly can go all over the world of movies in the matter of a few simple clicks.
Every time that I go to the Internet Movie Database, I plan on going to quickly check on one or two quick things, but many times, I end up looking around the site for over a half-hour. I don’t go to this website everyday, but I do go and check it out at least a couple of times each week. I check it more if I have a slow week and end up watching a lot of movies. I log in and look up an actor and look around and see if there are any movies that they have done that I haven’t seen that sound appealing. The site also provides a list of recent releases on DVD, so if I want to rent a movie, I will often look at the recent releases and see what is available before I go to the movie store. I used to go to the movie store and look around for a long time because I am a pretty indecisive person a lot of the times, but now I go to the movie store with a short list of movies to rent. I have even trusted some of the information that people put on the site for a movie to the point where I will just go and buy a movie without ever seeing it; usually these are the $10 movies. I guess that I figure that I could spend $5 renting a movie, really enjoy it, then turn around and pay another $10 to buy it, so if the reviews seem pretty good about a movie, I will just go straight to the store and buy it.
Although the Internet has only been around for a few years, many people find themselves in the same boat that I do, wondering what we would do without it. The Internet provides us with a seemingly unlimited number of sources of information for everything that you can think of, and even many things that you could never imagine. Although the Internet Movie Database primarily deals with the opinions of movies, it is found when looking beneath the surface that political discussion is present. Nonetheless, the Internet Movie Database provides a place for people to research movies and then write reviews based on what they thought. One thing that we can be sure of is, “The Internet has given everyone in America a voice, and evidently, everyone in America has chosen to use that voice to bitch about movies” (Smith, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back).
Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back. Dir. Kevin Smith. Perf. Ben Affleck, Kevin Smith, Jason
Mewes, Will Ferrell, and Jason Lee. Dimension, 2001.
Landow, George. “Hypertext and Critical Theory” Reading Digital Culture. Ed. David
Trend. Blackwell Publishers. 2001. 98-108.
Levy, Pierre. “Collective Intellegence.” Reading Digital Culture. Ed. David Trend.
Blackwell Publishers. 2001. 253-58.
Poster, Mark. “Cyberdemocracy.” Reading Digital Culture. Ed. David Trend. Blackwell
Publishers. 2001. 259-71.
Turkle, Sherry. “Who Am We?” Reading Digital Culture. Ed. David Trend. Blackwell
Publishers. 2001. 236-50.