Anonymous Actress Who Sued IMDB For Revealing Her Age Ordered To Reveal Her Name

from the dig-your-own-hole dept

A few months back, an anonymous actress sued IMDB (or rather, Amazon, IMDB's owner) for revealing her age, kicking off several rounds of WTF and some rather more serious discussions about "ageism" in Hollywood. The unnamed plaintiff's case hinged upon the assertion that "because lesser-known forty-year-old actresses are not in demand in the entertainment business, Plaintiff has suffered a substantial decrease in acting credits, employment opportunities and earnings since Defendants' addition of Plaintiff’s legal date of birth to the Internet Movie Database."

Whether or not this statement is true is still being debated, but the lawsuit went further, stating basically that the actress in question looked so much younger than her actual age that she couldn't even land roles that asked specifically for 40-year-old women. This presumably was also hotly debated and (more likely) swiftly derided.

Unfortunately for Ms. Whomever, the presiding judge has ordered her to reveal her name in order to proceed with the lawsuit.
U.S. District Judge Marsha J. Pechman granted an order to dismiss the plaintiff's case on Friday, pursuant to a rule that requires a complaint to name all parties. Pechman gave the woman 14 days as of Friday to include her real name in the complaint.

"[W]hile Plaintiff may face public ridicule and embarrassment if she elects to go forward under her real name, the injury she fears is not severe enough to justify permitting her to proceed anonymously," Pechman noted in her order.
This is the sort of thing that happens when you try to bury "unsavory" facts: you set yourself up for a full-frontal Streisand. In order for her to collect from Amazon for "breach of contract, fraud, and violations of Washington State's privacy and consumer protection acts," she'll have to give away the only remaining bit of information everyone needs to put 2 and 2 together and come up with "over 40." This leaves her with two choices, neither of which could really be considered satisfactory: drop the lawsuit and retain her anonymity or proceed with the lawsuit as "Actress Over 40 Who is Unable to Land Roles, Thanks to Both 'Ageism' and 'Reverse Ageism.'"

Judge Pechman realizes the unpleasantness of these choices, but points out that the "unpleasantness" the actress faces from revealing her name is an order of magnitude below the potential "unpleasantness" faced in previous anonymously-filed suits that were allowed to proceed. Pechman quotes from an earlier case that the actress' lawsuit borrows some case language from and compares the two:
The Plaintiff in the present case borrows this language and asserts that disclosing her identity will subject her to "industry blacklisting and loss of livelihood." (Dkt. No. 25 at 7.)

However, while revealing Plaintiff's identity may negatively affect her prospects of being hired as an actress, the harm she faces is of an order of magnitude less than the potential harm faced by the foreign garment workers in Advanced Textile Corp. In this case, Plaintiff is not working on a small island where her immigration status is directly tied to her employment. 214 F.3d at 1062. She is not facing eviction from company-owned housing. 214 F.3d at 1062. She faces no risk of deportation or retaliation directed at her family. 214 F.3d at 1062-63. Instead, Plaintiff argues she faces "new-age harms" such as "cyber bullying." (Dkt. No. 25 at 7.) While the economic harms she alleges may be real, Plaintiff present no evidence that the retaliation she may encounter is at all similar to the truly grave harms plaintiffs feared in Advanced Textile Corp.
Other precedent is cited as well, basically stating that any amount of "discrimination" or "retaliation" as a result of this lawsuit is not severe enough to allow her to proceed anonymously.

The sad thing is that most of the damage being done to her future career options is self-inflicted. If this actress thought her ability to land roles was diminished by IMDB's posting of her real age, it's going to be nothing compared to the fallout of this lawsuit, if she decides to proceed under her real name. Her own complaint makes it clear that there's little demand for actresses her age, despite the fact that she looks much "younger." This leaves potential casting directors in an unenviable position: do you cast her in "age-appropriate" roles, knowing that you'll be subjecting yourself to long conversations with the actress and her agent about how she looks "too young" to play the offered part? Or do you take her youthful claims at face value and cast her in younger roles, hoping that the end result doesn't resemble an episode of Beverly Hills 90210?

Good luck with that.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Nigel (profile), Dec 28th, 2011 @ 3:28pm

    hmph

    With that logic she needs to sign up on the Creative America page and suss it with that folks that actually.... oh wait...

    N.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2011 @ 3:37pm

    Is she really suing for the right to deceive others or in vox populis style lie?

    Lying in any circumstance shouldn't be allowed, in some rare circumstances it should be socially tolerated like white lies or lying to get a job but not ever as a matter of policy or law, if you get caught lying you should have no recourse at best and be punished at worst.

    If you can't lie well enough to get away with it, you should not have the law protect you, you should be punished.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2011 @ 3:46pm

    <crazy fan>Please God don't let it be Lexa Doig</crazy fan>

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Dec 28th, 2011 @ 3:49pm

    She stands to make more if she wins her lawsuit than she has in acting.
    She spend a lot of money carefully crafting an americanised identity to be more "palatable" and still can not find work because shes all old and stuff.
    Burst boldly from the shadows lady!!!
    The fame of the PR guy is waning, we need a new target...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2011 @ 3:51pm

    Look at all the grief, including FBI surveillance, Traci Lords got when her real age was revealed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Larry, Dec 28th, 2011 @ 3:58pm

    "...full frontal Streisand"...

    I just threw up in my mouth a little.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2011 @ 4:00pm

    Re:

    That goes on the "lying is bad and if you get caught you should be punished" category.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Dec 28th, 2011 @ 4:13pm

    Re: Re:

    shhhhh...anonymous IS Tracy Lords!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2011 @ 4:15pm

    As for me, I've ALWAYS thought that [actress name here] looks craggy as an old catcher's mitt... much older than her years.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2011 @ 4:31pm

    Couldn't she have created a corporation that represents her interests and keep her anonymity?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2011 @ 4:45pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Silvia Saint was better.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2011 @ 5:04pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    (WARNING: Not work safe, not family safe, do not click on the links if nudity and sexual acts are a problem at your location or if you don't like it.)

    Here is the humor of this little back and forth.
    I got curious and used Bing to find the pornstar database IAFD, even they are against SOPA LoL

    http://blog.iafd.com/2011/12/17/play-the-accordion-go-to-jail-its-the-law/

    More funny stuff:
    This:
    http://www.virtualshackles.com/275
    Leads to this:
    https://wwws.whitehouse.gov/petitions/!/petition/veto-sopa-bill-and-any-other-future-bills-th reaten-diminish-free-flow-information/g3W1BscR

    Porn databases also struggle with censorship.

    http://blog.iafd.com/2011/03/11/why-arent-we-allowed-to-move-on/

    Which makes me think about other things that are also sensitive like criminal databases, credit databases and so forth they all could be targets for SOPA and can become less useful because of it, is only when we look at the bad stuff that problems really arise, can the government be cut off from financial partners because of this? or their subcontractors? which is what they use to bypass some privacy laws.

    Is just funny how the mind wonders about different things.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Terry Clough, Dec 28th, 2011 @ 5:06pm

    I'm curious!

    I would love to know who this 40-year-old actress who thinks she looks younger actually is. That way I can judge for myself.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2011 @ 5:09pm

    http://www.virtualshackles.com/275

    Imagine if SOPA was in the books.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2011 @ 5:10pm

    Re: I'm curious!

    We all know why you are curious :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Colin, Dec 28th, 2011 @ 5:31pm

    This is the sort of thing that happens when you try to bury "unsavory" facts: you set yourself up for a full-frontal Streisand.

    Now I need to get the image of a "full-frontal Streisand" out of my head. Thanks a lot...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    The Devil's Coachman (profile), Dec 28th, 2011 @ 8:06pm

    Re:

    Projectile vomiting here.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    icon
    The Devil's Coachman (profile), Dec 28th, 2011 @ 8:08pm

    Re: I'm curious!

    Every forty-plus actress in the business thinks she looks younger than she actually is. Unfortunately for them, progressive lenses, Lasik and contacts have made this pretty much impossible to pull of anymore. And then there's 1080p HDTV. Give it up, girls.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Dec 28th, 2011 @ 8:53pm

    Re:

    ACK... ACK and Triple ACK

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    icon
    Jesse (profile), Dec 29th, 2011 @ 5:26am

    She got into a superficial industry, she likely has decent looks and is relatively superficial herself (either in vanity or in judging others) and now she complains about the downsides of superficiality.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    ASTROBOI, Dec 29th, 2011 @ 5:42am

    Re: lying

    Philosopher Mark Rowlands states that the most basic directive of humans (indeed primates in general) is "deceive others more than they deceive you". If everybody was punished for lying the entire human race would be in jail in short order.

    But this actress' fear that looking younger than her known age will harm her career is groundless: since movies have existed young people have been played by older actors and actresses, sometimes unconvincingly. Roger Corman's drive-in movies of the 50's often used adults to portray teens and only their hairstyle and beatnik speech made it clear who was the teen and who was the adult. Steve McQueen played his first film role as a teen but he was actually 29. The number of actresses who play mothers while actually only ten years older than their adult daughters are legion. Perhaps this lady is simply not a good actress. Or a PITA to work with.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 31st, 2011 @ 4:03pm

    None of this would have happened if IMDb/Amazon hadn't stolen her age information from her private signup data and used it to populate their public database. Amazon behaving as a bully -- as usual!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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