Saturday, January 27, 2007

Ah, the age-old debate of art and patronage . . .

Ah, the age-old debate of art and patronage . . .
Filed under: Uncategorized — Frontier Former Editor @ 2:07 am Edit This
As tempted as I was to exclaim ‘what in hell,’ the historian in me quickly recognized the time-worn debate over art, patronage and government involvement.

Just consider this article in the Wilmington Star another Hummel figurine in the display case of human idiocy.

Article published Jan 26, 2007
Republican: Scripts need reviewing
Movie prompts lawmaker’s film incentive idea

Raleigh | Citing the controversy surrounding the Dakota Fanning film Hounddog, the leader of the state Senate Republicans says he wants the government to review scripts before cameras start rolling in North Carolina.
That system, said state Sen. Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, would apply only to films seeking the state’s lucrative filmmaker incentive, which refunds as much as 15 percent of what productions spend in North Carolina from the state treasury.
“Why should North Carolina taxpayers pay for something they find objectionable?” said Berger, who is having proposed legislation drafted.
It is not known whether Hounddog’s producers have or will apply for the incentive. A call Thursday to the N.C. Department of Revenue, which oversees incentive payments, was not returned.
Sen. Julia Boseman, D-New Hanover, one of the backers of the new law that created the current incentive system, said she couldn’t say much until she saw Berger’s proposal in writing.
“There’s no bill yet to take a look at,” she said. “But I am always willing to consider reasonable ways to improve the program.”
She did say she thought looking at scripts before shooting starts might be meaningless because a script could be changed during production.
“We should consider the end product,” she said, “which is what our current system is designed to do.”
State law denies the incentive to films that are obscene. In state law, obscenity is defined as depicting sexual conduct presented in an offensive way that appeals to prurient interest, lacks any “serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value” and is not free speech protected by the state or federal constitutions.
Berger said the film-incentive ban should be broadened to include material considered objectionable. He said there should be no First Amendment concerns because the producer would be seeking money from the state government. But he did say that if constitutional questions confused the matter, it would be better not to have a film incentive at all.
Berger has not seen the movie. He said his opinions were formed by what he has read about it.
The Fanning film, which is playing this week at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, has been a flashpoint of controversy since it was filmed on locations in New Hanover and Brunswick counties last summer.
The movie tells the story of Lewellen, a girl played by 12-year-old Fanning, who is growing up in the 1960s South.
In one scene, the character is raped. The scene lasts a few minutes and is not graphic, according to The Associated Press. There is no nudity, the scene is darkly lit, and only Fanning’s face and hand are shown.
Criticism and questions began even before the first screening of the film. A group called the Christian Film and Television Commission claims Hounddog breaks the federal child-pornography law, according to the AP.
Last year, a complaint reached the New Hanover County district attorney, who issued a letter saying he saw uncut portions of the film and found that no crime had been committed in his jurisdiction.
The film’s publicist took a request for comment Thursday afternoon but did not return it before press time.
Under the current system, the process begins when producers make inquiries of local film commissions or the state film office to gauge whether their project might be eligible.
But to claim the credit, the producers must file a state tax return. The N.C. Department of Revenue examines the return and judges whether all the criteria in the law have been met. The refund can be as much as $7.5 million per film.
Berger pointed to South Carolina, which requires up-front applications from producers, who must attach a copy of their script.
Even so, said Jeff Monks, South Carolina’s film commissioner, the state does not assess the content of a proposed movie.
“Censorship is not part of our activity,” he said. The purpose of asking for the script is to see whether it conforms to the budget and schedule information producers are required to provide.
“We want to see if this film is doable and a good investment for the people of the state,” he said.
Mark Schreiner: (919) 835-1434


Blogger jromer said...

as an actor i have to question dakota fanning's parents parental abilities because they allowed their daughter to film a rape scene. anyone close to an actor must realize what this does internally when an actor 'acts.' i do not know ms. fanning but i really can't say that its likely a 12 year old child has the mental capacity to keep her internal systems safe during a scene such as that....but that's not what you are writing about here....and i'm completely with you on the idiocy of this developement...

4:05 AM  
Blogger Frontier Editor said...

I get you on this one - WAy back when, it was Brooke Shields as a prostitute in "Pretty Baby" and Jodie Foster as a prostitute in "Taxi Driver." Jodie might have had the mental capacity to handle her role choice, but she's the exception that might prove the rule.

Government is a dangerous and fickle patron of the arts, but then so are many private patrons. And there lies the heart of the debate, "What is art?"

9:52 AM  
Blogger jromer said...

oh yeah, i remember watching pretty baby when i was still a teenager (older than brooke). i could barely handle it and i kept thinking, HOW CAN SHE HANDLE IT? and i'm no prude. as anybody. you're right, jodi foster probably was the only one who could handle it but you get the impression that jodi was a rare rare child indeed.

10:48 AM  
Blogger jromer said...

what is up with me and the typos lately? argh. i meant ask anybody. not as anybody. yikes.

11:46 AM  
Anonymous Charisse said...

This is great info to know.

10:10 PM  

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