I’m not particularly impressed by two parts of IMDb’s defense against an age-discrimination lawsuit filed against it by an actress who claimed that the website harmed her career by publishing her true age. It seems disingenuous to claim that IMDb has no role in Hollywood, considering that its IMDbPro databases are valuable enough to warrant a subscription business. And I’m not sure I see calling the plaintiff oversensitive is a winning strategy. But I think there’s almost something sweet about the second point in their defense, that the public would champion an actress who suffers age discrimination. Via The Hollywood Reporter, IMDb wrote:
To be clear, Defendants have never retaliated against Plaintiff (or anyone else) for complaining regarding its practices. And regardless of this Court’s ruling on its motion, Defendants do not intend to retaliate against Plaintiff. Requiring Plaintiff to identify herself to the public is not going to change that. Indeed, if there were risk of retaliation, that risk is mitigated by the public and judicial scrutiny placed on Defendants through this action.
Man, I would love to believe that this were true. The cultural world would be a better and more interesting place if we told more stories about the lives of people whose children are almost or already out of the house, and who weren’t also the evil heads of corporations, heads of state, grizzled dispensers of advice who only appear in single scenes, or Meryl Streep. Unfortunately, I don’t see a lot of consistent clamor in that area. And I kind of think that even if someone was the blatant victim of age discrimination, we’d hear a lot more dismissals about how older people can’t take on certain roles, or how a market doesn’t exist for older people (despite how old much of television viewership skews) in Hollywood than we’d hear statements of support. I really hope to someday live in a world where complaints about discrimination are generally unfounded. But I don’t really expect we’ll ever get there. And we’re certainly not there yet.