Several states are currently trying to pass sweeping restrictions on abortion and women’s reproductive health services. The idea is, of course, to overturn Roe v. Wade and Griswold v. Connecticut. That’s the endgame: criminalize abortion, criminalize birth control, criminalize gynecological services, punish poor women for being poor, punish women for being women. It all feels so inevitable, especially after Brett Kavanaugh. This was always the endgame. This was always the “culture war” of the Trump presidency. We’ve had misogynist presidents before, and we’ve had presidents who didn’t believe in women’s fundamental reproductive rights. But we’ve never before seen this toxic blend of violent misogyny, ignorance and no checks on the president’s power.
Georgia was the first state to get the ball rolling this time around. What’s interesting about that is that Georgia has been experiencing a ton of economic growth and new industry because of their lenient tax laws/generous incentives. There’s an entire cottage industry of Hollywood films and TV shows being shot in Georgia. So which production companies, studios, producers and streaming outlets will take a stand against Georgia’s draconian abortion law? Very few.
Many of Hollywood’s most powerful content companies have maintained a deafening silence on the raging abortion legislation debate that’s sweeping the country as their star talent and producers go off script to speak out about threats to women’s reproductive rights and boycott states like Georgia that have signed the bills. Protests are erupting on the ground and across social media as seven other states — including Alabama, Missouri and Ohio — also adopt anti-abortion laws. Most of the industry uproar is currently focused on Georgia, where a massive number of Hollywood movies and TV shows film thanks to a highly favorable state tax incentive.
Following Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s May 7 signing of a bill that aims to outlaw abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, powerhouse female creators like “The Handmaid’s Tale” breakout director Reed Morano and the Oscar-nominated writing team behind “Bridesmaids,” Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, abandoned plans to film in the state. Actor and talk-show host Busy Philipps fronted an ad campaign with the ACLU countering what she said is an attempt by the Trump administration to undermine the nearly 50-year-old precedent set by Roe v. Wade, via multistate anti-abortion bills. Actors like “Titanic” star Frances Fisher and local women in the film industry picketed on the steps of Atlanta City Hall.
Media companies with deep financial investments in the state have so far remained mum on the matter. Not one major studio would comment on the ongoing issue when approached by Variety, including the film and TV divisions at The Walt Disney Co., WarnerMedia, Sony Pictures Entertainment, NBCUniversal, Viacom, Fox and Amazon Studios.
The only company to respond to Variety’s inquiries was Netflix. “We have many women working on productions in Georgia, whose rights, along with millions of others, will be severely restricted by this law,” Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, said in an exclusive statement. “It’s why we will work with the ACLU and others to fight it in court. Given the legislation has not yet been implemented, we’ll continue to film there, while also supporting partners and artists who choose not to. Should it ever come into effect, we’d rethink our entire investment in Georgia.” CBS referred Variety to comments made by its entertainment president Kelly Kahl, who said at the network’s recent upfront presentation that he would monitor the bill’s progress toward becoming law.
I truly appreciate Ted Sarandos trying to be a good ally to women, and mostly succeeding. I hope he backs up those words with action if and when the legislation is implemented. I hope he’s already preparing for it, just as I hope other studios and production companies are preparing for the worst. Even though Time’s Up is not specifically about reproductive rights, the whole movement of Time’s Up has changed the way women in the industry speak to each other, and speak to men in power. I imagine there will be SO many actresses, producers and directors who just flat-out refuse to work in Georgia, Alabama, Missouri and Ohio right now. And that’s probably one of the most effective methods for combating this glut of misogyny: attacking the economics of it. We’ve spent decades (if not centuries) trying to make the argument that women are full citizens who shouldn’t have to play a game of point-counterpoint on the issue of equality and human rights. It hasn’t worked. Debating this sh-t has not worked. Maybe hitting them in the wallet will work.
And yes, I know The Handmaid’s Tale is on Hulu not Netflix, but I just wanted to use some photos from The Handmaid’s Tale.
Photos courtesy of Hulu, WENN.