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.

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Comments on “Anonymous Actress Who Sued IMDB For Revealing Her Age Ordered To Reveal Her Name”

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Anonymous Coward says:

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.


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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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

More funny stuff:
Leads to this:!/petition/veto-sopa-bill-and-any-other-future-bills-threaten-diminish-free-flow-information/g3W1BscR

Porn databases also struggle with censorship.

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.

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