Apparently I’m a millennial, along with 95% of the people who read and write for this website. I’m not entirely sure what any of this means, beyond being old enough to buy a TV but young enough to never hook it up to an aerial. The young and the old have vastly different attitudes toward media – and indeed what media actually is. But how does that affect their taste in film?
Previously, we highlighted the difference gender makes on attitudes towards film by mining IMDb’s ratings, learning that IMDb’s userbase is overwhelmingly male, and that films with larger female fanbases tend to do worse overall.
Now we’ve done the same thing with age data in order to learn some specific things about my mysterious, irony-loving, cronut-eating age group.
1. Kids Don’t Hang Out On IMDb
The overwhelming majority of film reviews are written by people we’d generally call millennials. Some draw the line at 30, some at 40. IMDb only classifies people into four distinct groups, as seen above: Under 18s (‘teens’); 18 – 29 year olds (‘millennials’); 30 – 44 year olds (‘millennials who watch Channel 4 and maybe ITV’); and people over the age of 45 (‘baby-boomers’).
Baby-boomers and teens combined make up less than 13% of the overall votes cast on IMBb, with teens being less that one per cent.
The middle two groups account for 87.9% of votes, having cast 401,022,954 in total. Teens, on the other hand, cast just 2,697,723 votes – less than 1% of the total votes.
2. Millennials are extending adolescence as long as possible
In the table above, we’ve highlighted the films with an overwhelming amount of votes from two specific age groups: millennials (18-29) and boomers (45+).
There’s an interesting trend here that’s more subtle than it initially appears. Comparing the two lists, you’ll immediately notice the ages of the characters in the movies correlate – roughly – with the ages of the viewers. Your dad probably isn’t too keen on watching Zac Efron look hot for 90 minutes. His loss.
However, looking at Project X, Step Up, 17 Again, She’s the Man and most of the other films on that list, you’ll notice they’re actually films about high-schoolers. People between 18-29 aren’t still in high school, hopefully. So, they’re reaching back five to 10 years into the past to escape to a simpler, more acne-ridden time.
It’s another symptom of Millennialism – that idea that we’re not really adults until we’re well over 35.
You can also notice baby-boomers’ predilection for films set in the past, or that are significantly aged themselves. Take 1983’s The Right Stuff, for example. Following the first aeronautical test pilots, the film starts in 1947 and finishes with the end of the Mercury program in 1963.
It could be said that Boomers chase after “the good old days” , where millennials are chasing “my good old days” with their choice of film to watch and rate.
3. Millennials are ironic and insincere
Is that.. is that Freddy Got Fingered on another chart at One Room With A View?
Once again, Tom Green’s 2001 horror show of a movie highlights the polarised views between two different groups. In the chart above we’ve plotted the movies with the biggest difference in average scores.
Just like before, millennials’ tendency towards prolonged infantilism can be seen in the movies they rate higher than the boomers. Many are cartoons: both ’90s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies are rated highly, along with Space Jam and the original Transformers movie (yes, the Orson Welles one).
Elsewhere on the list are zany comedies, such as Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and Good Burger, which also happen to be aimed at children.
The boomers’ list actually features a number of younger-skewed movies too, such as Babe, The Santa Clause 2 and My Super Ex-Girlfriend. Now, these aren’t children’s films. They’re more like family films. The sort of films that your dad might tolerate – even enjoy – but yourself, as a sardonic millennial, can’t stand. Hence, why they end up on this list.
We struggle to explain why The Last Airbender appears on this list, though. It’s possible that IMDb-using boomers saw (and liked) it for the sparkly, mysterious Shyamalan action movie that it was, as they weren’t aware of the audience and critic-acclaimed source material.
Similarly, Synecdoche, New York looks out of place on the list of films preferred by millennials. Perhaps it’s because it’s one of those films that’s more enjoyable to explain (at great length) to your friends than to watch – millennials love them.
Sometimes, analysing data like this can be cold and impersonal. We’ve drawn out some aggregate trends, made some assertions, but you can’t draw out a personal story from a pivot table. Many people won’t connect with this data unless it’s told in the first person.
So, to finish, I want to demonstrate the truth of this data with a story from my life. I’m 23. I’m a millennial. I watched Synecdoche, New York with my dad, who falls in the 45+ category. After watching it, he told he didn’t hate it, but he didn’t really get it. With those words, he essentially gave it a 5.5 out of 10.
I didn’t get the film either, but I’m happy to pretend that I did. I would put the movie in my top 5, whenever people asked – or even if they didn’t. I’d wax lyrical about it in anonymous online messageboards and forums. I – like thousands of other millenials – voted it 10 out of 10 on IMDb.
And then I watched Good Burger. And I laughed. And I had no prospect of ever owning a home. And I had done three unpaid internships that year. And I spent the last of my paycheck on a softbox.
I’m Marcus, and I’m a millennial.