I will not be upset by this story:
Citing the controversy surrounding the Dakota Fanning film Hounddog, the leader of the state Senate Republicans says he wants the government to review scripts before cameras start rolling in North Carolina.
I’m serious when I say I will not be upset. The headline – “Republican Scripts need reviewing” – is designed to outrage. Look at the First Amendment violation! I can buy into that. Except, I can’t.
That system, said state Sen. Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, would apply only to films seeking the state’s lucrative filmmaker incentive, which refunds as much as 15 percent of what productions spend in North Carolina from the state treasury.
“Why should North Carolina taxpayers pay for something they find objectionable?” said Berger, who is having proposed legislation drafted.
State Sen. Berger is correct. Why should North Carolina taxpayers pay for something they (might) find objectionable? I’d take him a step further, though, and ask why should North Carolina, or any taxpayer, pay for film production?
Berger pointed to South Carolina, which requires up-front applications from producers, who must attach a copy of their script.
Even so, said Jeff Monks, South Carolina’s film commissioner, the state does not assess the content of a proposed movie.
“Censorship is not part of our activity,” he said. The purpose of asking for the script is to see whether it conforms to the budget and schedule information producers are required to provide.
“We want to see if this film is doable and a good investment for the people of the state,” he said.
It’s not a legitimate government expense. Film producers will find cheap, quality locations without government help through competition. Movies are their investment. Taxpayer money spent to benefit producers is not an investment to the taxpayers. I’m sure North Carolina residents will not be sharing in the profits of Hounddog. This should be obvious.
With this story, the familiar refrain is always that he who pays gets to decide. This is true whether it’s customers buying vegan cookies instead of non-vegan cookies or a government buying film production instead of commissioning paintings. If you don’t want censorship, don’t take someone else’s money. The First Amendment protection against censorship only applies to your own dime.