Florida proposes tax incentives for film makers to turn clock back to 1950s

By Calvin Palmer

A Florida state Representative wants film makers to turn the clock back to the 1950s and to encourage them to do so, a bill has been introduced that would increase the tax credits for production costs for shows promoting traditional family values.

The little-known provision was slipped into a 75-million-dollar incentive package that Republican leaders who hold the majority in the state House of Representatives hope will bring more entertainment industry jobs to Florida.

Shows considered “family friendly” would benefit from the provision to increase the tax credits from two to five percent.

Those productions are defined as films or TV shows with a “cross-generational appeal” that includes a “responsible resolution of issues.” Smoking, profanity, nudity and sex are also out, along with what the state’s sex crime laws define as “obscene”.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican state Representative Stephen Precourt, said: “Think of it as like Mayberry.” He was referring to the referring to The Andy Griffith Show.

“That’s when I grew up — the ’60s,” Precourt said. “That’s what life was like. I want Florida to be known for making those kinds of movies: Disney movies for kids and all that stuff. Like it used to be, you know?”

Shows featuring gay characters would not be the kind of thing Precourt would want to invest public dollars in.

Gay rights groups have blasted the proposed legislation, saying it subsidizes discrimination.

“Instituting 1950s-style movie censorship does nothing to support real-life families or help Florida’s struggling economy,” said Ted Howard, executive director for Florida Together, a coalition of 80 groups that advocate for equal rights.

Florida Family Policy Council President John Stemberger said nontraditional family values could include anything from “drug abuse to excessive drunkenness to homosexual families.”

“It’s a good concept to encourage people to produce more quality family entertainment in the state,” Stemberger said. “It’s a good thing.”

I guess any planned production of California Republican state Senator Roy Ashburn’s life story will not take place in Florida. Ashburn, a father of four, revealed earlier this week he was gay after being arrested for driving under the influence.

No matter how hard the ultra-conservatives try to pretend their world is squeaky clean, someone from among their ranks always makes them appear a laughing stock, as well as hypocrites.

And for all their railing about “big government” controlling people’s lives, these conservatives seem pretty enthusiastic about trying to control the content of films and TV shows in tune with their fantasy world.  The proposals of this bill are censorship in another guise.

The far right always likes to look back on a “golden age” when things were allegedly so much better than they are now. The only problem is that it has never existed, save only in the minds of right-wing politicians.

[Based on reports by The Palm Beach Post and AFP.]

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