Lots of state and local governments offer you tax credits if you film within their borders. Though cynics say that this is just a way for government to favor its friends, some people claim it makes good economic sense. Film productions bring money to town, and employ hotels, caterers, sexually transmitted disease clinics, bail bondsmen, aromatherapists, gerbil veterinarians, and thus and such.
Some states and localities have elaborate requirements to qualify for the tax credit. That's not what distinguishes Texas. What distinguishes Texas, apparently, is that to get a movie tax credit, you have to ensure that your movie doesn't hurt their feelings. And apparently Machete did.
The Texas Film Commission has denied incentives for "Machete," the controversial immigration-related feature film from Robert Rodriguez's Austin-based Troublemaker Studios.
In a brief, formal letter dated Dec. 1 and released Wednesday by Katherine Cesinger , a spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Perry, the Texas Film Commission cited part of a state code that says requests for film incentives can be denied "because of inappropriate content or content that portrays Texas or Texans in a negative fashion."
Big Shiny Robot speculates about what got the Texans' panties in a wad:
s for the offensive part of it, I’m sure you could argue that there are portions people may find offensive. But the offense here seems to be more political rather than content-based. I didn’t hear conservative critics harrumphing about the abundance of boobies, using intestines to rappel out a hospital window, cutting numerous limbs off, or the general pervasive sex and violence of the film.
But because there was a political undercurrent- one which discussed issues surrounding illegal immigration, made a mockery of bigoted politicians and vigalantes, and proudly declared (from the top of a taco truck) “We didn’t cross the border- the border crossed us!!” I can see how that would be threatening to the small minds which inhabit many areas of our state government.
Someone with more energy than I have today ought to do a First Amendment analysis of Texas' rather arbitrary content-based system for granting or denying tax credits.
Now, I understand the inherent goodness of being careful of the feelings and sensibilities of the delicate. I have seven- and four-year-old daughters! But I have to ask this: what "portrays Texas or Texans in a negative fashion" in a more pronounced way: a silly action movie, or a state government that denies tax credits to movies that fail adequately to congratulate the state and its inhabitants for how awesome they are?
Stay strong down there, Lone Star.