— Yahoo Lifestyle (@yahoolifestyle) May 30, 2019
Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Bob Iger told said on Wednesday that it would be “very difficult” for the media company to keep filming in Georgia if the LIFE Act bill takes effect because many of their people will not want to work in the state. The bill that was just signed by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, and it restricts abortions after six weeks, or when a fetal heartbeat is detected, but allows for exceptions in cases of rape, incest, and situations when the mother’s health is at risk. If an abortion is performed after a heartbeat is detected, under the law, the physician responsible could have their medical license revoked.
Disney has filmed several movies in Georgia such as “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Endgame,” and it would certainly affect the state’s efforts to create production jobs if the entertainment behemoth stopped filming in the state. Georgia is home to a thriving film industry, which stands to be impacted significantly if major Hollywood players demonstrate their disapproval of the legislation by pulling productions.
When asked if Disney would keep filming in Georgia, Iger said the following:
“I rather doubt we will. I think many people who work for us will not want to work there, and we will have to heed their wishes in that regard. Right now we are watching it very carefully.” (If the law takes effect) “I don’t see how it’s practical for us to continue to shoot there.”
However, much stricter abortion laws fund in other locations across the world have not prevented Disney from filming wherever they pleased. Take Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi for instance, it filmed in Bolivia, Croatia, and Ireland in 2016. Does Bob Iger know that women in Northern Ireland who have abortions or who assist them with abortions can face up to life in prison, or that in the Republic of Ireland abortion is restricted after 12 weeks? Did that make it impractical to shoot there? Or how about in Croatia where woman have until 10 weeks to make a decision about abortion? That country is striving to make abortion exceptional rather than common. And consider Bolivia, where in December 2017, Bolivia’s National Assembly voted to decriminalize abortion before eight weeks of pregnancy for “students, adolescents, or girls”. However, the reform law was repealed in its entirety on January 27, 2018, in response to protests about its provisions criminalizing medical malpractice. Currently, abortion in Bolivia is illegal, except in the cases of rape, incest, or to protect the woman’s health. Is the Georgia law that strict?
And that’s not all. Even Disney’s current hit Aladdin ought to be considered “problematic” is Bob Iger was being honest. The hit film was shot in Wadi Rum, Jordan where abortion is outright criminalized. The only exceptions are fetal impairment, when the mother’s life is in danger, and other, limited circumstances to protect a mother’s physical and mental health. Otherwise, the mothers and the doctors face imprisonment.
Can anyone show me where Mr. Iger expressed reluctance about filming in Jordan or the United Arab Emirates because of their abortion laws?
On Monday, Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos issued a statement to Variety protesting the bill and pledging action against it. “We have many women working on productions in Georgia, whose rights, along with millions of others, will be severely restricted by this law. 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.”
Netflix’s upcoming season of Stranger Things was one of the productions they filmed there. Netflix’s reluctance to produce content in regions with strong anti-abortion laws seemingly does not extend to the Middle East however, where recently the company has been ramping up the number of undertaken projects.
Netflix is working on its third Arabic original, titled “Paranormal”, a show based on a series of Arabic horror books written by Egyptian author, Ahmed Khaled Tawfik. The show will be produced in Egypt, where abortion is punishable by imprisonment in almost all circumstances. And speaking of Jordan, Netflix’s teen drama “Jinn”and “Al Rawabi School for Girls”another Netflix original, were both also shot and produced in Jordan, a feature a female lead cast.
And Disney and Netflix aren’t the only two media giants virtue-signalling their threats to boycott Georgia. Last week, Amazon Studios cancelled a scouting trip to Georgia for their upcoming drama ‘The Power,’ a show where “women suddenly develop the power to release electrical jolts from their fingers, shifting gender and power dynamics around the world”. Two scouts hired by the show had been working in the Savannah, Georgia area for several months, prepping for her arrival. Now, they’ve pulled out since the bill was passed.
Even actors are breathlessly getting their statements out there. Ozark, another Netflix series which is also currently filming around the Atlanta area, saw their lead Jason Bateman vow to boycott the state if the bill becomes law. Then there is actress Alyssa Milano, star of Insatiable, who has been an outspoken critic of the new law and has urged for a boycott in response to the law, is in the midst of shooting its second season in Georgia. Actresses Jessica Chastain and Sophie Turner also came out to boycott Georgia. Jessica Chastain had nothing to say about Northern Ireland’s abortion restrictions when she filmed Miss Julie there in 2017. And Sophie Turner filmed Game of Thrones in Northern Ireland for 10 years and without ever saying a word about the Draconian abortion restrictions there.
Of course, moral declarations have their own value, and the voters in several states are making their declarations through a combination of heartbeat bills and trigger bills, in recent months the elected representatives of voters in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi, and now Alabama have decisively rejected the vast majority of abortions performed in their states.
No matter where you stand on the abortion issue, the hypocrisy of telling Georgia that they won’t film there over abortion laws, but while they were content to film abroad where abortion laws are even MORE strict is a terrible look. Several other state legislatures, like those in Kentucky and Tennessee, have considered similar bills to the one in Georgia. Will Hollywood boycott them all?
While we’re on the subject of boycotts over political hot-buttons, when can we expect the Disney Cruise Lines to close up their port in Jamaica? Gay men who engaging in homosexual acts can be punished by life imprisonment. Surely that would make some Disney employees uncomfortable too. Did Bob Iger know this when they filmed all of their Pirates of the Caribbean movies there? Just asking…