Petition Against Florida's Ban On Films With Gay Characters

Perhaps you've heard of the plan to deny films (like all the oscar nominated movies this year) that don't promote "family values" which to some mean gay characters. Luckily some people are doing something about it.  For a start you can sign this petition started by R. Michael McWhorter (thank him by following him on Twitter) :

The petition reads: Florida, like many states currently has a Film incentives program designed to attract motion picture productions, however a new revision (which offers greater incentives) threatens to censor the content being produced by disqualifying films that "exhibit or imply any act of smoking, sex, nudity, nontraditional family values, gratuitous violence, or vulgar or profane language." or any film that contains content not "suitable for viewing by children age 5 or older"

This means any film featuring adult language, violence of any kind or "non traditional families" such as Gay or potentially even non-married or divorced couples would be disqualified.

You can read more at the link provided to the right but to put it in perspective this means all but one of the ten Academy Awards Best Picture nominees would not qualify.

This act would in essence cripple the film production industry in Florida by alienating many out of state productions who would have no choice but to shoot in states that do offer incentives to make their films.

Even if you are NOT in the film industry this AFFECTS YOU. Gas stations, Hotels, Restaurants, Real Estate and Tourism are just a few of many outlets where film production money stimulates the community where the production is taking place.

Art is not always safe, it is not always pretty and everyone has the right to choose to view it or not but NO ONE should be able to dictate the content within.

State Rep. Stephen Precourt went as far as to say he wanted films that depict life from the 1960's "Think of it as like Mayberry" and said shows with gay characters "Would not be the kind of thing I'd say that we want to invest public dollars in"

For the record the incentive does not "Invest" public dollars, it offers tax breaks to encourage film productions to spend large sums of money here that they would otherwise spend elsewhere.

Links to this petition and the signatures within will be sent to all of the Florida State Representatives. I also encourage anyone who is willing to feel free to contact a State representative yourself and let them know how you feel. You CAN make a difference, make your voice heard!

Friday 3/12 UPDATE:

The stink of Florida's discriminatory practices has led them to attempt to clarify things.  But as you can read, the attempt does not clarify anything.  It still seems that Florida wants to censor content with gay characters.  This is that press release:



MIAMI, Fla. (March 11, 2010) – Representatives of a half dozen Florida film and digital media organizations have come together to address and clarify a recently misinterpreted voluntary bonus in the Entertainment Industry Economic Development Act (HB 697) introduced by Rep. Steven Precourt (R-41).

“House Bill 697 will create jobs for Floridians by offering tax incentives to film, television and digital media productions. Unfortunately, it has been misunderstood that this bill is entirely about content, when in fact it is about Florida creating a tax credit to lure business,” said the coalition’s spokesman Graham Winick, president of Film Florida.

The “family-friendly” bonus was added to the incentive program in 2007/2008 and the language in question is being added to clarify the existing law which defines “family-friendly” material as appropriate for viewing by a 5-year-old without using all of the detailed MPAA ratings language.

“The language in HB 697 that has been questioned is limited only to a voluntarily-requested additional bonus tax incentive, not the main incentive,” said Winick. “This is not about turning away projects.”

“It is understandable that not all motion picture, television and video game productions will target G and E markets, but those that do can add to our jobs base and we ought to be doing everything we can to attract them,” said Winick.

The group consists of representatives from Film Florida, Florida Alliance of Media & Entertainment (FAME), Digital Media Alliance Florida (DMAF), Women in Film & Television – Florida (WIFT-FL), Florida Motion Picture & Television Association (FMPTA), Association of Independent Commercial Producers – Florida (AICP-FL), whose leadership support the highly competitive jobs creation policy presented in HB 697 and have come together to clarify the circulating misinformation.

You can read it for yourself here.