I know I haven’t posted here in awhile so let me catch you up. I completed TSPDT’s Top 1000 in 2014 and I’m now officially out as a transsexual. Onward!

Four years ago I got my panties in a twist over music videos not really being in IMDb. I don’t know why I even thought of it, but once I did, I realized it was ridiculous that they weren’t there. They’re just a short film. I purposely picked one I knew I could argue for. In this case, I chose Metallica’s music video for their song One. That’s the one that pieces black and white footage of the band playing their anti-war song together with the early 70s anti-war movie Johnny Got His Gun. Of course I met resistance. If you’re curious, here’s the thread.

I stopped pushing too easily, but I checked a year or so later and it was in the database. The other night I wondered if maybe IMDb had changed their policy. I looked up Buddy Holly by Weezer which was directed by Spike Jonze and it was there. I thought maybe something had changed. So, once again, I picked a video I could argue in favor of if necessary. I went with Take On Me by Ah-ha directed by Steve Barron (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). It was accepted in about 20 minutes. I submitted another one and it was accepted again. I kept going. When I submitted Total Eclipse Of The Heart by Bonnie Tyler directed by Russell Mulcahy (Highlander) I refreshed their new contribution tracker and it was instantly accepted. A few days in to submitting I was told to keep it up by two data editors at IMDb, but to follow a couple of conventions:

Mark it as “Made for video”

Set the genres to “music” and “short”

Make the title “Artist: Song”

I was fine with that at the time and continued to submit. I use the movie social network Letterboxd. I am hardly a heavy user, but enjoy it. The site pulls it’s data from TMDb. It’s another movie database that doesn’t use an editorial staff to check over user submitted content. It’s like Wikipedia in that sense. I started adding videos there that I wanted to mark as being seen on Letterboxd. When I started doing this, a lady who I had just recently met on Letterboxd pointed out that she once had a list composed of Michael Jackson videos that had been gutted because someone manipulated the data on TMDb and thus, Letterboxd destroyed those entries. I didn’t think a whole lot of it. Figured if it came up, then I would deal with it then.

It came up. I was having difficulty adding any crew members that worked on a film other then the ones who were in the art department. I went to the TMDb forums and explained I was having difficulty adding directors to music videos. They explained what to do which was fine, but the mention of music videos also received a response. Of course, I started to defend their inclusion. The idea of them being there wasn’t too big of a deal. I mean IMDb allows it, so it seems they were pretty much okay with it. Not entirely, but pretty much. What got things really going was that they wanted them marked as video. Just like IMDb does. It wasn’t an issue for me with IMDb, but Letterboxd doesn’t import things that are marked as video. Now it was an issue. You can see it here.

None of their arguments hold water, but they seem to want to follow IMDb and it looks like they don’t want to possibly anger their customer: Letterboxd. That, I understand. Well, I don’t understand the need to follow IMDb because they already aren’t doing that, but the financial issue I do understand. I guess it’s time to go talk to both IMDb and Letterboxd, but before I possibly do that, I wanted to put down some things here. Mainly, I want to bring up some of the arguments against the inclusion of music videos and marking them as “made for video”. Some of these are ones that have actually been presented to me, and others I am anticipating. Please do leave any you can think of in the comments.

There must be millions of them and the database can’t handle it.

I have a degree in EECS (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science). Databases aren’t easy, but we also live in 2015 where very large scale databases are doable. IMDb must add enormous amounts of titles and data every single day and their searches are faster than ever. What was the last amount of videos in terms of their lengths added up that are uploaded to YouTube per day? This is a technical issue that if you can’t deal with, then excluding music videos is not going to save you.

We don’t include music videos for the same reason we don’t include home movies, student films, and similar things.

Someone at IMDb told me this. Luckily, I know full well they do. Anyone who knows Stan Brakhage knows the film Window Water Baby Moving. It is a home movie he shot of his wife giving birth to their first child. Student films? What about Killer of Sheep by Charles Burnett? He made it while he was a student at UCLA. So, obviously they do accept them under certain conditions. I’ll come to that one last.

But Killer of Sheep won an award

To name one, MTV has held award ceremonies for music videos since 1984. Music videos do win awards.

But MTV has a vested economic interest and thus it’s awards aren’t as valid as say, Cannes

Did anyone watch the Grammys this year? Notice when they stopped for a speech about how apparently artists are being ripped off left and right and as an industry they plan to go to Congress and manipulate copyright law in their favor? Felt like it was the late 90s again. Where was Lars Ulrich? Didn’t need him cause artists in the audience were bobbing their heads. Award shows are tied to economic interest for the things they are giving awards to. It doesn’t render the awards meaningless.

But if we add music videos, then people will want to add things like commercials and trailers

Boo hoo! It’s probably only a matter of time before someone wants to take up that fight. They’re just short films designed to sell something. Kind of like The Wizard, which was a feature length ad for Super Mario Bros. 3 and the Power Glove. Yeah, remember that one! What about Warner Bros. Silver Jubliee? It’s a short film that advertises the studio and it’s movies, also known as a commercial. And of course there’s the film that’s considered to be the first film advertisement. It’s called Dewars Scotch Whiskey on IMDb. It came out in 1897. Commercials have been a part of film since the beginning. Oh, and as for music videos possibly being ads themselves. Remember that music videos actually give you the product in it’s entirety and add value with the video. I don’t think people think of ads this way.

Trailers? Does anyone even have to be reminded of that trailer they would swear was a different movie from what they saw in theaters? Not to mention the trend in the past ten years or so of making fake trailers to make a film appear to be something it isn’t. I love the one for The Shining that makes it looks like a family comedy. I think of movies that are entirely made from another movie. Jacques Rivette recut Out 1 to make Out 1: Spectre. Oh, and there is also Rose Hobart and Alone. Life Wastes Andy Hardy made up of clips from other films. Movies recut from other movies to tell you something that isn’t necessarily what the film it’s cut from is about. But I’m not here to argue for the inclusion of trailers. Someone else’s fight.

But then people will claim any video clip on YouTube or Vimeo is a valid entry

Again, boo hoo! Simple put, doing something that doesn’t make sense in the hope that it will avoid a debate down the road is nonsense. Besides, what constitutes a film is always in debate and flux. Not submitting music videos and marking them as “made for video” isn’t going to do anything about that issue.

When was the last time you saw a music video at a film festival?

Well, you got me there. I have never attended a film festival. I don’t have any interest and I’m disabled. But I think the people who attended, or will attend these film festivals probably have or will:

Los Angeles Music Video Festival

Sacramento Film & Music Festival

Great Lakes International Film Festival

One Screen Film Festival

And these are just a few I grabbed from the first page of Google results for “music video film festival”.

But notice they specially list them as music videos. Even though they are similar, they are distinctly different.

Yes, and they also label shorts, features, documentaries, animated, dramatizations, and other types of films separately. Last time I checked, both the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes make all these distinctions in the awards they hand out.

We mark them as “made for video” because they have video in the name

Seems absurd, but it’s the only reason I can think of. When I see something marked as “made for video”, then I think of DVD or VHS collections of films that have been released. Not the films themselves! Does anyone remember going to the store or receiving music videos on VHS or DVD in the mail? Sure, you can buy collections, but in reality, you mainly saw them on TV. They were made for TV just like any TV movie or series. Today we also get them through video streaming services like YouTube and Vimeo. Maybe since we call them YouTube videos? But the Angry Video Game Nerd series is just a bunch of YouTube videos. I know James Rolfe makes them available elsewhere, but that’s like claiming your main source of music videos wasn’t MTV in the 80s and 90s. Yet, here is AVGN listed as a TV Show on IMDb. And it’s not alone. We call this adapting to the times. Why are we adapting here and not on music videos? Human nature. How many progressive things can you think of that should have made something just as valid because something else was just marked as valid, but people fight you to the death about it?

We mark music videos as “made for video” because they never had a screening

You mean like when they were shown on TV? Like a TV Movie is? I doubt anyone would make this claim, but I’m grasping at straws for why people seem to want to fight like the fate of the world is at stake over this label of “made for video”.

But directors like Michel Gondry started making music videos then evolved into feature length film directors

Like a Pokemon? Look up just about any director and you’ll probably find that they started with shorts. Many keep making shorts while doing features. But of course it’s a specific kind of short we are talking about called music videos. Well, Spike Jonze and David Fincher still do music videos. Oh, and I mentioned Michel Gondry because that’s the specific example I was given for a director who started in music videos then evolved. Except, he still makes music videos.

But these are only directors who started with music videos

Did you know Brian De Palma and William Friedkin made music videos after already being established directors? Yeah, De Palma actually directed Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing In The Dark. You know, that one with that actress named Courteney Cox. De Palma did it because he was a huge fan of Springsteen. According to IMVDb, Friedkin made three of them. One for Laura Branigan’s Self Control, Wang Chung’s To Live And Die In L.A., and Barbra Streisand’s Somewhere.

But IMVDb already handles music videos

And I’m sure Hong Kong Movie Database does a great job too. Does that mean we shouldn’t have movies from Hong Kong? Of course not. Besides, do you think Huong Hoang sued IMDb because not many people would notice her age was published there? Of course not. She sued because IMDb is the place everyone goes to find who has done what in the entertainment industry. Before music videos were allowed at all, these things were relegated to a smattering of text in the “other works” section. Yeah, check that section recently? You know, maybe in the place it doesn’t exist in the iOS apps. Since at least 1981, many people have worked to make these short films. They deserve to be properly credited in IMDb and elsewhere. Simply put, they are robbed of this by music videos not being included. Then if they are included, they are told their work must be set aside from all other films simply because they happen to be a particular kind of short film. In this case, that means a social network for movies like Letterboxd acts like they don’t exist.

Lack of story?

Pat Benatar’s Love Is A Battlefield tells a story. Just to name one.

Lack of dialogue?

Again, Pat Benatar’s Love Is A Battlefield. It was the first one to do it, back in 1983. MTV started in 1981.

Too straightforward? They’re often people just performing.

And musicals are any different? Remember Herbie Hancock’s Rockit? I’d call that a fine piece of experimental filmmaking set to a good jazz fusion song.

Social significance?

How many can you name? How about Soul Asylum’s Runaway Train or Pearl Jam’s Jeremy. I sure remember Madonna’s Like A Prayer making a big impact. Maybe N.W.A’s Straight Outta Compton? I’m sure a few women felt a little empowerment at seeing a Salt ‘N’ Pepa video like Let’s Talk About Sex. Feel free to add yours in the comments. I’m sure you can think of ones that are much better than these.

Tradition?

I was actually told that tradition is a reason. Just because something has been done for a long time doesn’t mean it’s correct. This is true for something small to things of great social significance. I know it’s like whipping out the Nazi example any time someone says they were just doing as they were told, but it was tradition for blacks to be slaves. A strong one too. Women as chattel? Oh, and a tradition we are still getting out from under: people who are transgender are mentally ill or at least confused as is often said of kids who figure it out while they are still children.

The big and final argument.

I have been told by IMDb that public interest is the ultimate deciding factor whether something is allowed into the database. What do you think people are watching on YouTube in droves? There’s a reason MTV came into existence and why we now have things like Vevo. People have a lot of interest in music videos. You can come up with reason after reason that satisfies public interest.

Why is there any debate over whether music videos should be allowed into any general movie database?

Why do we strangely mark them as “video”?

I don’t know. I don’t get it. For crying out loud, Super Mario Bros. 3 is in IMDb, but these particular brands of short films either are left out or marked as something they aren’t.

That’s enough for now.

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