IMDb Censors Shortbus Listing

As of this posting, the Internet Movie Database is censoring its search results by preventing certain films from coming up in the regular results of a search of the database. Go ahead and search for John Cameron Mitchell’s Shortbus. See? Try it with Caligula, Debbie Does Dallas or Taboo and you get the same results, that is, none. None of these films come up in a search for their titles. However, the search seems at least a little bit arbitrary, since Michael Winterbottom’s 9 Songs does show up. Hmmm, hetero money shot, ok by the IMDb, but an autoerotic facial? Nope. Straight penetration, sure, no problem! Gay analingus? Nope.
Split hairs, anyone?
Think that’s odd? It gets even more fucked up. Search for any of the actors involved in Shortbus and see what happens. Jay Brannan? Nope. PJ De Boy? Unh unh. Lindsay Beamish or Sook-Yin Lee? Nope and nope. However, Miriam Shor does show up in a search using her name, as does writer/director Mitchell.
Oh, but there’s more….

So it seems that the IMDb is censoring certain “adult” titles and personnel from showing up in its searches, but it seems to be pretty arbitrary. For example, search for porn queen (and former Charlie Sheen girlfriend) Ginger Lynn Allen and IMDb takes you straight to her page with such classic films as Ball Busters, Lust in the Fast Lane, The Pink Lagoon and my personal favorite title of all time, On Golden Blonde. So an actress with hundreds of porn titles to her name comes up in a search, but Sook-Yin Lee who I can safely say has a total of zero porn films to her name, does not. (I’m not getting into the definition of pornography in this post, but Shortbus ain’t porn.)
After digging around on the site a little, I found out that the IMDb has decided that “Adult titles cannot be located during a casual search. Only registered users can update their registration profile and activate/deactivate the option to include adult titles in searches and displays.” Not only that, but this rule also includes something called “adult names,” the definition of which includes names “that only have credits for Adult titles.”
If that’s not a load of censoring horseshit, I don’t know what is. Of course they put that corollary in there so as to not have to exclude Peter O’Toole, John Gielgud, Malcolm McDowell and Helen Mirren, since they appear in the otherwise hidden Caligula.
I learned about this debacle courtesy of Tom Hall who pointed me to Eugene Hernandez’s blog. In a recent post he hosts a You Tube video of Jay Brannan singing “Soda Shop” from the wonderful Shortbus soundtrack. In the clip, Brannan says that there’s a way to go into your IMDb account and enable adult films to show up in searches. Well, it’s not easy, and you have to register, but for those of you who are already registered, just click on this link. From the main page it’s MUCH harder to do.
So apparently, the powers that be over that the IMDb consider Shortbus on the same artistic level as The Poonies and The Sperminator and Sook-Yin Lee the same kind of an actor as Peter North, who according to the IMDb has over 1,500 porn films to his name. Yeah. Right.
I know I’ve written a lot about this film, but this latest development is, to quote Woody Allen, a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham. In other words, bullshit. I think the entire idea of “hiding” adult listings is silly, but that’s a bigger issue. For now, let’s just get Shortbus back into “normal” listings, ok? To do this, everyone please, go to the comment page on IMDb and tell them to remove the “Adult” label from Shortbus.

4 thoughts on “IMDb Censors Shortbus Listing”

  1. Well Monty, I just searched for Caligula on the IMDB site and 4 versions of the film came up, but not the “adult” one. As far as Shortbus goes, see my above comment.

  2. I just searched for “Shortbus,” “Henry & June,” “Caligula,” and “Salo” in both my Firefox IMDB search bar and on’s main window. All four films came up immediately with no problem.
    BTW before running the searches I logged out of my account to make sure I wasn’t receiving preferential treatment.

  3. Montrealkid, the “adult” classification of Shortbus was (finally) changed this morning, so you lucked out. Before today, however, everything in my post was as written. as far as searching on Google, that’s not the point. The point is not to have to do that and the IMDb’s policy is at best, misguided and at worse, flat out censorship.

  4. I’m a registered user at IMDB and have been for a few years, and finding Shortbus is no problem. Just type the title and it’s the first result. I didn’t set any parameters or anything.
    Also, tested a search for Sook Yin Lee and her filmography came up with Shortbus topping the list.
    At worse, just type Shortbus into Google. The IMDB listing is the second result.

Leave a Reply to monty Cancel reply