By Zachary Landau | The Duquesne Duke
Last Thursday, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law a bill that prevented employers and businesses from discriminating based on one’s race, religion, age, and sex. However, the law does allow for discrimination based on sexual orientation. In addition, this law will prevent an ordinance in Charlotte from going into effect that would have prevented discriminatory practices as well as give transgendered individuals the right to use the public restroom of their gender identity.
Many Hollywood studios sensitive to human rights issues like these have expressed disdain for the law.
Actor, director and producer Rob Reiner called the law “hateful,” and said that until it is repealed “and LGBT North Carolinians are treated with the equal dignity they deserve, I will not film another production in North Carolina.”
The entertainment industry is an integral part of the North Carolina economy, so much so that the state spent over $61 million on incentives for film productions in 2013. The state switched over to a grant system instead of a tax credit program in 2014.
Speaking to “Deadline,” director of the North Carolina Film Office Guy Gaster stated, “Certainly at this point in time we can’t speculate about what impact the legislation will have. We’ll have to wait and see.”
The language in this North Carolina law reflects a similar bill in Georgia that Gov. Nathan Deal has decided to veto.
Deal remarked that the bill “doesn’t reflect the character of our state,” and that the state’s lawmakers’ “efforts to purge this bill of any possibility that it would allow or encourage discrimination illustrates how difficult it is to legislate something that is best left to the broad protections of the First Amendment.”
When this bill was being delegated, major media corporations threatened action against Georgia if it was passed. Organizations like the Weinstein Company, which is in the process of filming a Richard Pryor biopic in the state, promised to take their business elsewhere if the bill was signed into law.
Other major corporations, such as Disney, Sony, Lionsgate, 21st Century Fox, Time Warner, Comcast, Discovery Communications, Viacom, Twitter, Marvel (take your pick), have voiced their opposition to the bill. The NFL even threatened to eliminate Atlanta from hosting the next Super Bowl if it were passed.
While Deal cited the “character” of Georgia for his opposition to the law, all forms of media, especially film, have huge sway in the state.
Georgia is the home of the country’s fourth largest film industry after California, New York and Texas. The state first introduced tax incentives to prospective filmmakers in 2002, with further incentives introduced in the Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act in 2005. This act, which was further updated in 2008, allowed productions an income tax credit of 20% of in-state costs of $500,000 or more.
In 2010, Georgia spent $140.6 million on film incentives.
The Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Office states that this investment in the entertainment industry has generated $770 million for the state in 2009.
North Carolina’s film industry has been struggling since that state cut its incentives back in 2014. With this new law, even more organizations may choose to leave.
The NBA, for example, released a statement jeopardizing Charlotte’s chance to host the 2017 All-Star game. In this statement, the organization reaffirms that it is “dedicated to creating an inclusive environment for all who attend our games and events.” It concludes that the NBA does not know “what impact (the law) will have on our ability to successfully host the 2017 All-Star Game in Charlotte.”
With the entertainment industry playing a huge roll in the economy of North Carolina, it may revisit the law in the future.