Being an actor seems synonymous with giving up any semblance of privacy, but now, some people in Hollywood are fighting back against having the personal become public. A law passed earlier this year mandates that officials at IMDb.com, one of the leading purveyors of information on the film industry, agree to individual requests to remove the ages of actors, directors, and writers. The law was meant to combat ageism in the industry, but now, the industry is fighting back.
Late last week, IMDb filed a lawsuit in federal court for the Northern District of California challenging the law, claiming that it is a violation of free speech rights. As Reuters reports, the law, AB 1687, is “unfair because it was carefully tailored to apply only to the Delaware-based IMDb.com Inc., and not other sources of information such as media websites.”
And while IMDb insists that it “shares the worthy goal of preventing age discrimination,” it claims that the law “does not advance, much less achieve, that goal.”
It’s certainly a salient problem in Hollywood, where ageism is perhaps more pronounced than in any other industry. Women in particular have noted that as they age, their ability to be cast (and as a result, their earnings potential) begins to fall. As Zoe Saldana told The Telegraph in 2014, “By the time you’re 28 you’re expired, you’re playing mommy roles.”
And while the simple act of not listing an actor’s age on an online database may not solve the problem, it could begin to shift the conversation in a meaningful direction. The lawsuit hopes for a court judgment that would block AB 1687’s enforcement, and names the California Attorney General Kamala Harris as a defendant (as is usual in such cases). A spokeswoman for Harris noted that the office is currently reviewing the complaint.