In 2009, Governor Rick Perry announced Texas’ expanded state subsidies for film production at Robert Rodriguez’ Austin studio. In 2010, the Texas film board revoked a $1.75 million subsidy for Rodriguez’ Machete — a $10 million revenge film that took in $26 million at the box office (US). The problem? Somehow, Machete’s portrayal of an “unholy trinity of rotten, greedy Americans,” including a racist Texas senator in league with the drug mafia, failed to portray Texas in a favorable light. Predictably, Rodriguez said that without the subsidy, he would have made the film somewhere else.
What’s this anachronistic censorship dispute actually about ? It’s probably best to think of it as friction in a larger process of industry capture of state governments. The real question is: how does Machete rate a $1.75 million subsidy in the first place?
That’s the question I take up in a new piece at the Huffington Post. Here’s the story in one chart:
For comparison’s sake: European audiovisual subsidies are around $3 billion per year. Public broadcasting in the US gets around $500 million in government funding.