The first movie production to pull out of Georgia over the state’s election reform law is “Emancipation”. Actor Will Smith and director Antoine Fuqua issued a joint statement this morning. After weeks of discussions with filmmakers, film officials, and Georgia political leaders, their decision is official.
Said star Will Smith and director Antoine Fuqua: “At this moment in time, the Nation is coming to terms with its history and is attempting to eliminate vestiges of institutional racism to achieve true racial justice. We cannot in good conscience provide economic support to a government that enacts regressive voting laws that are designed to restrict voter access. The new Georgia voting laws are reminiscent of voting impediments that were passed at the end of Reconstruction to prevent many Americans from voting. Regrettably, we feel compelled to move our film production work from Georgia to another state.”
Stacey Abrams, one of the Georgia political leaders in talks with the two men, seems to have suffered a very public defeat with this announcement. It’s a little bit of karma, really, since she was one of the partisan critics of the Georgia law and encouraged protests. Then, when the MLB moved the All-Star game out of Atlanta and she realized that there are real-life consequences for such divisive political talk, she changed course. Millions of dollars in revenue will be lost for many small businesses dependent on the game for income, middle-class people will suffer for the lies about the law that Democrats are pushing. The Democrat narrative is malarkey. The new law actually increases voting opportunity in Georgia and anyone who takes the time to look at the law’s provisions can see that. Instead, Democrats take the lazy way and promote racial divisions to score cheap political points.
Will Smith and Antoine Fuqua are complicit in the malarkey pedaled by other Democrats. They should be held accountable for the economic pain they will cause in Georgia but likely will not be. This isn’t about a reasonable discussion on race relations and voting rights, this is about growing political divisions in Georgia in hopes of increasing voter turnout in the next election cycle. The plan is to keep people angry so that they will show up and vote. This is made a little more interesting by the fact that Stacey Abrams will probably challenge Governor Kemp in 2022. Republicans are lining up to challenge Senator Warnock, too.
Abrams can be credited for her organizational push to get Georgia voters registered and then the get-out-the-vote efforts. She should also be criticized for jobs lost and incomes shrunk by companies blindly following progressive calls for boycotting Georgia. This is the first film to pull production from the state but may not be the last. Georgia is a production hub for film and television.
Since 2008, enticing tax incentives have turned the state a production hub for film and television, particularly for Netflix, HBO Max, Disney’s slate of Marvel movies and TV shows, and The CW. Georgia has also developed infrastructure for big-budget productions and is home to a tremendously skilled workforce of crew members, craftsmen and technicians.
Hollywood has been debating how to handle this most recent Georgia situation. Some have called for a production boycott, while others have worried that pulling out of the state would do more harm than good. For the most part, studios who have commented on the new law have condemned it, but not committed to halting production.
Emancipation,” which Fuqua and Smith are producing for Apple Studios, centers around Whipped Peter, an enslaved person who emancipated himself durng the Civil War from a Southern plantation and joined the Union Army. He is most famous for being the subject of a series of photographs, which show the shockingly brutal scars on his back from being whipped as a slave.
Neither Smith nor Fuqua bothered to point to specific parts of the law with which they have a problem. Is it the tiresome argument about voters producing identification before being allowed to vote? Maybe they don’t like the provision about passing out food and water to voters waiting in long lines. That’s a poorly worded restriction and should be revised. It should be made clear that provision is about electioneering, not deliberately trying to deny water to thirsty voters. When did food become an entitlement for voters at polling places? Long voting lines are the result of poor planning at the local level. Local officials run elections. State lawmakers write election laws and local officials follow them. The mechanics of conducting elections, though, is on local officials. If there are not enough voting machines at a location, that is on the local officials and that creates the long lines. This is all basic civics.
It’s not clear yet how much sway Smith and Fuqua will carry among their Hollywood peers. This is becoming a pattern. Hollywood elites also announced a boycott on Georgia in 2019 after Governor Kemp signed House Bill 481 into law which essentially banned abortion after six weeks. It turns out that nothing much came of that. It gave Hollywood celebrities a chance to take to social media to rant about conservatives trying to protect the sanctity of life and that was satisfaction enough for them, apparently.