Should the entertainment industry boycott Georgia? | The Tylt
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has signed a bill banning abortion after about six weeks, which many experts say would basically criminalize all abortions in the state. Actors, writers and producers immediately began saying they would pull their lucrative projects out of the state because of the bill. Businesses frequently threaten to boycott states over policies they find unjust. However some lawmakers, like former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, say boycotting states hurts local workers. What do you think?
Should the entertainment industry boycott Georgia?
The Washington Post reports many people involved in filmmaking have vowed to pull their business from the state. However, at the moment, major studios appear to be set on continuing production.
Three independent production companies have announced they won’t do business in the state after the governor signed the “heartbeat” bill, which bans most abortions the moment physicians hear a fetal heartbeat. More than 50 actors have also signed a letter to Georgia legislators saying they will seek to stop production in the state, a popular venue for Hollywood projects, if the law goes into effect.
But the biggest corporate players remain on the sidelines. The movie industry’s Washington-based trade group has said it will hold off on taking action, and no major studios have said they will move any of their productions out of the state.
In the last several years, businesses and entertainers have wielded threats of boycotts to overturn numerous different laws. While the boycotts typically have not lasted very long, they cause substantial damage to state economies and morale. Per Variety:
In 2016, North Carolina passed a law mandating that transgender people use public bathrooms that corresponded to their sex at birth. In response, Bruce Springsteen cancelled concerts, sporting events went elsewhere, companies such as Viacom and Netflix slammed the legislation, and PayPal cancelled plans to expand its presence in the state. Ultimately, the state legislature modified the bill to make it less discriminatory and a new governor pushed to expand LGBTQ protections. Hollywood hopes that kind of backlash will prevent Kemp from making moves that might encourage it to steer clear of Georgia.
The Vice President was the target of one such boycott during his tenure as Indiana's governor. After passing what many deemed to be a discriminatory and harmful anti-gay law, the New Yorker reports that Mike Pence found himself in the crosshairs of numerous national organizations.
The outcry over the Religious Freedom Restoration Act was enormous. Gay-rights groups condemned the bill and urged boycotts of the state.
...The hashtag #BoycottIndiana appeared on Twitter’s list of trending topics, and remained there for days. Alarmed business executives from many of the state’s most prominent companies, including Cummins, Eli Lilly, Salesforce, and Anthem, joined civic leaders in expressing disapproval. Companies began cancelling conventions, and threatening to reverse plans to expand in the state. The Indiana business community foresaw millions of dollars in losses. When the N.C.A.A., which is based in Indianapolis, declared its opposition to the legislation, the pressure became intolerable. Even the Republican establishment turned on Pence. A headline in the Star, published the Tuesday after the Stephanopoulos interview, demanded, “fix this now.”
Within days, the legislature had pushed through a less discriminatory version of the bill, and Pence signed it, before hastily leaving town for the weekend. But he clearly had not anticipated the outrage he’d triggered, and then he had tried to save his career at the expense of his professed principles.
Many of the same filmmakers called for boycotts in Georgia after Brian Kemp defeated Stacey Abrams in an election that was marred with scandal and accusations of voter suppression. Vanity Fair reports Abrams was quick to try to quash any boycotts, however, saying such actions would hurt average Georgians, not those in power.
Abrams also responded directly to [Veep executive producer Frank] Rich on Twitter, thanking him for his call to action, but once again calling for Hollywood to redirect its support to Fair Fight Georgia.
“Thank you @frankrichny - but the Georgians who make a living & take care of their families through entertainment are not to blame for the gross mismanagement of our democracy here in Georgia,“ she wrote. “We will hold folks accountable. Please lift up #FairFightGA as the call to action.”
Many people, specifically women, involved in Georgia's film industry have taken to social media to directly ask filmmakers to stay in the state.
They say any boycott would threaten their livelihoods as a punishment for legislation they had no hand in passing.