I try not to use terminology like “un-Texan” and “un-Houstonian” without just cause. But I think in this case it definitely applies.
The Houston Chronicle’s Celebrity Buzz blog recently reported on the lawsuit filed by Junie Hoang against the Internet Movie Database (IMDb). Ms. Hoang was claiming invasion of privacy and breach of contract after IMDb published her true birthday instead of the fake one she provided.
The crux of the story from the article:
Creating her profile page on IMDb, Hoang submitted an incorrect birthdate in violation of the website’s terms of service, IMDb attorney Harry Schneider Jr. told the court. IMDb staff reviewing Hoang’s submission found the inaccuracy and corrected it against her wishes.
Hoang used another person’s account in 2004 to adjust her IMDb profile and make herself appear seven years younger, said Schneider, an attorney with Perkins Coie. That fake age persisted on her profile for three years until Hoang asked that it be removed entirely.
“In September 2007, as the 36-year-old Hoang approached her phony ‘birthday’ when she no longer would be a woman in her ‘twenties,’ Hoang decided that she no longer wanted the false (birthdate) on her profile,” Schneider told the court.
The story goes on to say that Ms. Hoang went as far as to fake a passport and Texas identification card to hide her age, both of which are criminal acts in violation of (at least) Section 37.10 of the Texas Penal Code.
In essence, Ms. Hoang was fighting for the right to publish a lie and keep the truth hidden under the guise of privacy. IMDb was fighting for the right to publish the truth. It is rare that I champion the cause of large corporations (IMDb is now owned by Amazon), but as a free speech advocate and champion of ethics, it’s reassuring to see that IMDb won this lawsuit and that Ms. Hoang’s true age is now known to the world, and her attempts to lie have been thoroughly repudiated once and for all.
Ms. Hoang should really count her blessings she was not criminally prosecuted in her attempts to keep the lie about her age going. Besides being illegal, that kind of conduct crosses all sorts of ethical and moral lines, and is a prime example of the kind of conduct I call un-Texan and un-Houstonian.
What’s even more unfortunate is that Ms. Hoang has never made more than $9,000 annually from acting in a decade in the field. This severely limited the amount of damages she could have hoped to recover. That, and age isn’t even necessarily a barrier to finding work as an actor or actress. Just ask Betty White or Gene Hackman (among others).