The King's Gold

Over the weekend, I saw a link to a story entitled “Republican: Scripts need reviewing.” My first reaction was the same as many others, I suspect: “Oh, great. Another dumbass Republican looking to ‘fight back against the Hollywood elite’ by imposing censorship.”

Then I actually read the story, and I’m not so sure.

North Carolina State Senator Phil Berger was troubled by the upcoming movie, “Hounddog,” in which a 12-year-old girl (played by Dakota Fanning) is raped.

But the justification Berger is using might be sound.

In North Carolina, the state actively pursues Hollywood to film its movies there, to the point where filmmakers can file with the state for a “refund” of up to 15% of their costs incurred in-state. In essence, the state is underwriting these films.

Berger’s proposal would require those filmmakers who apply for that rebate to submit their scripts to a state agency for review, and only those who pass state scrutiny would be eligible for the funds.

There’s an old saying: “he who takes the king’s gold, plays the king’s tune.” There is no law requiring filmmakers to accept the state refund, nor is there a law requiring filmmakers to shoot in North Carolina. The only restrictions would be on those who want the state’s financial assistance — and anyone who thinks that money should never come with strings attached is an idiot. Like Robert Heinlein so famously opined, it’s the TANSTAAFL Principle — There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.

Don’t want the state to review your script before you start shooting? Then don’t ask them to help pay for it.

I’m still not certain whether or not I agree with Senator Berger’s proposal, but the matter is a far cry from black and white. The guy has an arguable point.

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