Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Johnny Reb Funds Lincoln Bio-pic?

Would Greece provide support for a Turkish filmmaker producing a film about the Ottoman empire?

Would Germany fund a movie about Stalin?

Would Israel help produce a move about Arafat?

No. But believe it or not, Virginia is going to provide Steven Spielberg with more than $4 million in tax credits and other funds to make a movie about none other than Abraham Lincoln, the very man who directed the devastation of Virginia about 150 years ago. (See Wapo story here.)

Hey, we think it shows that the Commonwealth is mature. South Carolina sure wouldn't do such a thing (they don't have the $4 million).

While we have nothing against Spielberg making his movie in Richmond and Petersburg--despite the fact that Lincoln's Union Army left both in utter devastation in 1865--we do have a problem with spending $4 million in state funds to support billionaire Spielberg and his Hollywood multi-millionaire friends in this endeavor.

For some reason, even supposedly fiscally conservative Republicans have a blind spot when it comes to spending taxpayer money on films (and sports teams). The supposed rationale is that filming in the state provides jobs. So what? Every other business in the state provides jobs, too, but they aren't getting some huge windfall from the state (okay, some are, but they shouldn't).

Film jobs, in particular, are notably temporary. Once Spielberg is finished with a few weeks of filming, everything will be shipped back to Hollywood to be finished and those "jobs" will disappear.

We'd love to know the cost per job of this corporate welfare scheme.

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