Well, that escalated quickly. After Netflix stepped to the forefront of the abortion issue, stating that they would “…rethink our entire investment in Georgia” if their restrictive abortion bill ever came to pass, several other studios came out and made similar remarks concerning Georgia.
Now, in addition to Netflix, AMC, Disney, CBS, NBCUniversal, Sony, Viacom and WarnerMedia have all come out against the Georgia legislature and their abortion bill, threatening to stop producing their films and television shows in the state, should the bill become law in January of 2020. If these studios were to leave the state, such a move would end up costing the state billions of dollars and could potentially devastate their economy, which has seen an economic boom since 2008, when they enacted lucrative tax incentives to bring productions to the state.
Probably the most forceful statement came from Disney Chairman, Bob Iger, who told Reuters on Thursday that “it would be very difficult” to continue filming in Georgia and that, “I think many people who work for us will not want to work there, and we will have to heed their wishes in that regard.” While this might sound like opaque corporate speak to some, consider that Disney is making the biggest movies in the world right now and filming a lot of them in Georgia. This isn’t just idle talk, it’s a threat.
While corporations frequently speak up about legislation that will harm their industry, this is one of the biggest social justice issues of our time and one they’ve been happy to avoid until now. It speaks to the magnitude of the issue and the impact on their employees.
What’s truly fascinating about this is what it portends for the future. Louisiana is similarly situated and seems, thus far, undeterred by the statements of these corporations towards Georgia and has moved forward with their own “heartbeat abortion” bill. There’s a very real showdown brewing over social issues between corporations and states.
Going forward, now that corporations have taken this overt step into politics and governance, it’s an interesting question of where do they stop? Which social justice issues are important? Obviously, corporations have long been involved in politics, but it’s typically more self-interest that drives their quietly spent lobbying dollars. This is decidedly a different beast.
We’ll see whether or not the stand the studios are taking will have any impact on the legislation in Georgia or elsewhere.
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