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By Rachel Alexander, The Stream, June 4, 2019
Several Hollywood giants are threatening to leave Georgia if the state’s new fetal heartbeat bill goes into effect. They’re happy to film in Arab countries that outlaw abortion and imprison gays. But Georgia, that state has to pay.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed the “heartbeat bill” on May 7. The law would prevent abortions from taking place after a fetus has a detectable heartbeat. It includes exceptions for rape and incest if the mother files a police report and if her life is in danger. The ACLU, choosing the mother over the child, is challenging the law in court.
Netflix, HBO, Disney, Etc.
Netflix was the first company to issue a statement. Other companies that followed include Warner Media, which is the parent company of Warner Bros., HBO, TBS, TNT, Disney, Viacom, CBS, Sony, AMC, the sports network STX and NBCUniversal.
A considerable number of movies and TV shows are filmed in Georgia due to its friendly tax laws toward them. They include Netflix’s Stranger Things, AMC’s The Walking Dead and Marvel’s “Avengers” franchise. Blockbusters Black Panther and Captain America: Civil War were filmed in the state.
Netflix’s content chief, Ted Sarandos, explained. “We have many women working on productions in Georgia, whose rights, along with millions of others, will be severely restricted by this law.”
Disney CEO Bob Iger said, “I think many people who work for us will not want to work there, and we will have to heed their wishes in that regard.”
The Stars Align
Several big names in Hollywood have already said they won’t film in Georgia while the litigation is pending. They include the actor, director and producer Jason Bateman. The actor Ed Helms tweeted:
Not everyone on the left agrees with a boycott. Filmmakers JJ Abrams and Jordan Peele said that while they disagree with the law, they would not be stopping production of their upcoming HBO show Lovecraft Country. Similarly, the sports network STX said it would not halt production of Greenland, and CBS will not stop filming MacGyver.
Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacy Abrams urged the entertainment industry not to boycott.
Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacy Abrams urged the entertainment industry not to boycott. “While I support those who want to live their values by not bringing their resources here, I do not want to harm the citizens of Georgia who are doing this work,” she said on MSNBC.
Some of the biggies movies are made in Georgia. Top producers and directors have moved there. A boycott will put thousands of workers out of business. They can’t easily pick up and move to another state to work on films, since few other states have close to the amount of entertainment jobs that Georgia has.
A group of female film workers urged entertainment leaders not to boycott the state. They said they would would “suffer from loss of income and resources in our industry due to boycotts.”
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Last year, movie and television productions filmed in Georgia generated $2.7 billion in direct spending in the state, according to the governor’s office. Over the past decade, the industry has created 92,000 jobs in the state. Some 455 productions were shot in Georgia in 2018. A boycott will crush the economy.
If Hollywood boycotts Georgia, what about the other states passing fetal heartbeat bills? That could be a considerable number of states to pull out of. It could have a crushing effect on the entertainment industry.
What About Real Persecution?
But why Georgia, why not boycott locations where there is real persecution? Actors Mark Hamill and Natalie Portman call for a boycott, though Star Wars was filmed in Tunisia, which treats gays as illegal. Netflix is currently filming in Egypt. Egypt arrestsgays and abortion is illegal there.
The Wall Street Journal editorialized, “Disney is more worried about filming in a U.S. state that has passed a law democratically than it is operating in China, which uses facial-recognition software to monitor its population and has a million Uighurs in re-education camps.”
By targeting Georgia and ignoring the real human rights abuses in other countries, Hollywood reveals its hypocrisy. A petitionhas been started to boycott Netflix. It has over 16,000 signatures.
It comes down to just more Hollywood bluffing, like when actors say they will leave the country if a Republican becomes president.
Moving entertainment operations out of Georgia would be immensely difficult as well as devastating to the economy and workers. As a result, it is highly unlikely that most of the big entertainment companies will leave if the law is upheld in court.
It comes down to just more Hollywood bluffing, like when actors say they will leave the country if a Republican becomes president. They never do. Because it all comes down to the almighty dollar. They care more about padding their pockets than any principles they claim to have.
The U.S. capitalist system made the stars and executives in entertainment rich. They wouldn’t want to disturb that by picking up and moving to a less advantageous state to make TV shows and films.