The War Between the States (to Subsidize Hollywood)

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:

(source, Henchman)

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.

 

 

 

 

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