AUSTIN ‚Äö√Ñ√Æ Don’t mess with Texas’ image ‚Äö√Ñ√Æ at least, not if you’re a filmmaker seeking money from the Lone Star State. That’s the message from Senate budget writers who approved a film-incentive measure Monday, but only after specifying that a grant may be denied for “inappropriate content or content that portrays Texas or Texans in a negative fashion.”…. So, would a losing season for the Cowboys be a forbidden topic under the bill OK’d by the Senate Finance Committee, as one observer speculated? Such judgments would be up to the film commission, which is under Gov. Rick Perry’s office, said Sen. Robert Deuell, R-Greenville, Senate sponsor of House Bill 1634 by Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin…. “They’ll make the detailed decisions. We didn’t specify any particulars, other than it can’t be disparaging to Texas or Texans or (contain) objectionable material,” Deuell said.
With the biennial comedy festival that is the Texas Legislature winding down, and having apparently solved all of the state’s pressing problems, Republicans are now turning to the really important stuff. No, we’re not talking about high school football…at least not yet. We’re talking about how the state of Texas is portrayed in movies.
Texans have always put a lot of stock in promoting and maintaining the mythology of Texas: frontier justice, cowboy culture, and independent self-reliance. Not that any of these thing really hold true in the 21st century, but Texans are heavily invested in seeing themselves as the last of a dying breed.
Here’s the thing, though. The Texas Film Commission has never been about image control. Of course, everyone wants to look good, but that sort of subjective decision depends on the attitude and prejudices of whoever happens to be evaluating the decision. No, the Texas Film Commission has always been about job creation. It’s been about finding ways to bring more jobs and more money from the movie industry into the Lone Star State. Are we now to let a collection of Republican-appointed ideologues now exercise editorial control over how Texas is portrayed? Am I the only one wondering if the best use of our tax dollars is censoring movie scripts?
Several senators wanted the provision, he said, noting: “Somebody mentioned that movie about the basketball team from El Paso that won the national championship, and how they depicted a game that was played over at East Texas State as being ‚Äö√Ñ√Æ they treated ‘em badly, and that never happened. That type of thing.”
Glory Road ‚Äö√Ñ√Æ a film about the Texas Western Miners, the first college basketball champion with an all-black starting lineup ‚Äö√Ñ√Æ prompted a call for an apology from Texas A&M-Commerce, which during the era in the film was known as East Texas State University.
The House version of the state budget includes $20 million for film incentive grants, contingent on the comptroller’s certification that money generated by filmmaking will make up for the expenditure.
The Senate’s proposed budget doesn’t fund a similar program, although it includes $10 million for the effort in its unfunded wish list. Negotiators are working on differences.
Perry has urged funding for the program, which “would have tremendously positive impact on Texas’ ability to attract entertainment jobs,” said Perry spokesman Ted Royer.
For those of you who had a problem with the way Texas was portrayed in Glory Road, you might want to revisit your history books. Texas in the ’50s and ’60s was not exactly a hotbed of racial harmony. You may not like your ancestors being portrayed as narrow-minded bigots who felt that African-Americans were better off “staying in their place”. Yes, the makers of Glory Road took some historical liberties with the story, but the broad reality of the era that the movie encompassed was correct.
If y’all still doubt me, perhaps you might want to do a little research. You might try starting with Jim Crow.
I don’t suppose there’s anything wrong with wanting Texas to be portrayed in a positive light, but is censorship REALLY the best use of of tax dollars? Should it really be the role of state government to review and censor film scripts before funding projects? And how long do you think it will be until movie makers take their projects elsewhere and the Texas Film Commission (and the jobs it was charged with trying to create) dries up and blows away?