IMDb Sues California Over Law Forcing Site to Remove Actors’ Ages
The closest corollary to Notorious B.I.G.’s dictum advising “never let no one know how much dough you hold” is Hollywood’s absolute commandment to “never let ’em know how old you really are.” Over time, an actor’s real age becomes a jealously guarded secret with the power to instantly push a casting profile from “love interest” to “love interest’s comic-relief parent.” The Internet Movie Database has posed a threat to this lie agreed upon in Tinseltown by adding exact birth dates to actors’ profiles, and the industry has pushed back. Today brings a pushback to that pushback, with the web giant defending their right to let everyone know who’s no longer passing for under 40.
California passed a bill in September that would require IMDb to remove the age listings from the IMDb Pro subscription-based site, as an effort to fight the ever-present menace of ageism in the industry. Spearheaded by actors’ union SAG-AFTRA, the bill was designed to make it more difficult to casting directors to discriminate against thespians of a certain age, but The Guardian reports today that IMDb has now countered with a lawsuit against the state of California, deeming the law an unconstitutional concealment of information.
The suit claims that that far from reducing ageism, the new bill infringes on First Amendment rights and the clause of the Constitution dealing with commerce. It points out the weirdly arbitrary nature of the age-removal law, noting that other public resources such as Google and Wikipedia have received no similar mandates. More than anything, it floats the (admittedly valid) point that the path to undoing ageism should be combatting prejudice, not attempting to render the city of Los Angeles ageless.
More details will trickle in over the weeks to come as deliberations over the legislation continue, but if IMDb doesn’t get their way, it’ll be a whole lot harder to arrive at the shocking realization that Margot Robbie is 26 years old.