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Friday, April 5, 2019

Hollywood: Do You Know Why You’re in Georgia?

After Georgia lost out to Louisiana on the production of Ray (the film about Georgia native Ray Charles) in 2008, then Georgia governor—now U.S. Secretary of Agriculture—Sonny Perdue, a Republican, signed tax-incentive legislation that was intended to lure the film industry to Georgia. It worked, and in a big way. Georgia is now often referred to as “the Hollywood of the South.” However, the way things are trending in film production, California may soon seek to become “the Georgia of the West.”

Just a couple of weeks ago, a report by Atlanta’s NBC News affiliate “11-Alive” described Georgia as “the top filming location in the world.” In 2016 and 2017, Georgia led the U.S. in the number of top-grossing feature films produced. In that two-year period, Georgia produced 32 such films, while California was second with 22 top-grossing films. In 2016, Georgia led the world in the production of top-grossing films.

Additionally, in the last decade Georgia has seen a massive investment in film and television infrastructure. U.S. News reports that, “According to Adweek, 16 film and TV studios announced plans to locate or expand facilities in Georgia since 2010.” In 2014, Pinewood Studios Group built its massive Georgia campus. According to U.S. News,
After two expansions, the 700-acre site now houses 18 sound stages with nearly 1 million square feet of covered space. Outside of California, Pinewood Atlanta is the largest purpose-built studio complex in the country, meaning it was built specifically to fit the needs of the film industry.
A Time magazine piece last year reports on “How Georgia Became the Hollywood of the South.” The piece contains several photos of the booming film infrastructure present in Georgia. The piece also notes,
In 2007, the film industry spent $93 million on productions in Georgia. In 2016, it spent over $2 billion. In the past decade, the tax perk has attracted the Hunger Games franchise, the Fast and Furious movies and superproducer Tyler Perry, who has made the state his base. Television hits like Stranger Things, critical darlings like Atlanta and reality series like The Real Housewives of Atlanta have all set up shop in the capital, often for years at a time. Georgia’s government estimates that in 2016 alone, the film industry gave the state a $7 billion economic boost through job creation and tourism.
In other words, the film industry and the state of Georgia have a nice little thing going that seems to be extremely financially beneficial to both sides. However, it doesn’t seem widely understood among those in Hollywood why things in Georgia are so favorable for their industry. This especially seems to be the case with those who make their living in front of the cameras. For those of you who need reminding or are confused or ignorant about why the film industry likes Georgia, allow me to shed a bit of light on the matter.

For over a decade, the Republican Party has dominated Georgia’s politics. The GOP in Georgia has had a “political trifecta”—control of the office of the governor, the state House, and the state Senate—since 2005. Republicans have won every state-wide race since 2010. Notice how GOP control of Georgia politics coincides with the meteoric rise of the film industry in Georgia. It was a GOP Governor, House, and Senate in Georgia that gave Hollywood the favorable financial conditions it now enjoys, and it is Georgia republicans who keep such conditions in place.

The Georgia GOP has won elections, not just by promising to govern as economic conservatives, but because of their conservative positions on the moral issues as well—especially the issues of life in the womb and marriage. Recall that like dozens of other U.S. states, the Georgia electorate—the voters, not the politicians or courts, mind you—overwhelmingly chose to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Unsurprisingly, for well over a decade now, these same voters have decided that they want politicians who share their worldview on the moral issues.

In other words, if you want the benefits of financial conservatism, then you’re going to have to be at least content with conservative legislation on abortion and the like. The same political worldview that has created an economic climate that allows for the creation of thousands of jobs and billions in revenue in the film industry is the same political worldview that protects life in the womb, believes marriage is the union of one man and one woman, believes that boys don’t belong in girls’ locker rooms, and so on. These positions have proved quite politically popular in Georgia, and that is why the GOP is in power here.

Ignorant of such facts, for weeks now dozens of Hollywood actors and actresses have threatened the state of Georgia over a recently passed—but yet to be signed into law—pro-life “fetal heartbeat” law. A few days after the Georgia Senate passed the LIFE Act, Alyssa Milano—who thinks MAGA hats are “the new white hood”—penned a brief and angry op-ed for Deadline. A day after Milano’s op-ed, the Writers Guild of America also took their “brave” stand against defending the most helpless and innocent among us. As if we all didn’t already know, Hollywood again made it clear that their “right” to do whatever they wish in the sexual realm trumps almost everything else.

Filmmakers may well decide that instead of making movies and TV shows in Georgia, they would rather take a “principled” stand in favor of killing the unborn and take their business elsewhere. If they hope to find another state that will give them a similar sweet deal on taxes as has Georgia, almost certainly such a state will also be filled with conservatives and conservative politicians who share Georgia’s views on the unborn.

Along with believing in capitalism and the free market, conservatives all over the U.S. generally also believe in the right to life, marriage as the union of one man and one woman, that science determines sex, and so on. We conservatives—especially Christian conservatives—reject the immoral “theology of self” that so permeates Hollywood. We believe that there is a higher Law that all other law and good government must be rooted in and subject to.

Thankfully—unlike Georgia’s last republican governor—in Brian Kemp it seems we now have a governor who’s actually willing to govern according to conservative principles. Though, signing into law a bill that almost certainly will—at least temporarily—be blocked by the courts is not the bravest political act Governor Kemp could—or should—perform. There are other grave moral matters that deserve his, and the Georgia legislature’s, attention.

A strong religious liberty bill (succeeding where former Governor Deal failed), protecting female athletes and students from the transgender madness that is sweeping the nation—these also need sound conservative action in Georgia. Such legislation will be much more likely to withstand legal challenges. And make no mistake about it, as is the case with abortion, Hollywood perverts will howl about any legislation that doesn’t conform to their immoral worldview.

On abortion, Governor Kemp—along with all Georgia republicans—should call the bluff of the Hollywood elite. Let’s see if they really are willing to abandon the tens-of-millions in profits that Georgia’s conservative tax laws allow them, along with the multi-million dollar infrastructure investments already in place in Georgia. In other words, if Hollywood wants to continue to do business in Georgia, they can surrender to the will of Georgians when it comes to our laws. If not, then good riddance, and good luck finding a political climate that will give you what you want on the economic and the moral issues. 

(See this column at American Thinker.)

Copyright 2019, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor is the author of the The Miracle and Magnificence of America

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