Fran Drescher, SAG-AFTRA president, appears to taking her signature role as The Nanny to heart. Actress Fran Drescher used the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards to call for a host of initiatives from eliminating all single-use plastics to boycotting any states that do not meet SAG’s view of supporting “freedom, diversity, inclusion and democracy.” That latter proposal follows cities like San Francisco imposing similar boycotts. It also follows calls from Rep. Marjorie Greene (R., Ga.) for a “national divorce,” including limiting the rights of people to move from northern states to southern states for their lower crime and lower taxes. It is the ultimate expression of our age of rage where we seek separation rather than interaction with those who hold different views and values.
Drescher’s call for boycotting conservative states is nothing new. While the left has denounced Greene’s talk of a divorce, it has called for such separation for years. San Francisco is just one example. San Francisco has issued a blacklist of 22 states that its municipal employees are banned from traveling to as part of their jobs and barred employees from entering into “any new contracts with companies headquartered” in any of those states
I have long opposed such laws and even proposed an alliance to oppose such laws through reciprocity policies. In the meantime, cities like San Francisco are having doubts about the rising costs from its boycott.
Drescher wants to follow the same ill-conceived approach to Hollywood studios, barring filming in states that do not satisfy SAGs values. She does not list those values, but the question is whether SAG could resist pressure to include a long list of issues once it starts to blacklist states. If SAG includes abortion rights, what about trans gender rights, election reforms, criminal justice reform, climate change, or anti-racism as causes? Once you start to assemble a list of required values, it is very difficult to exclude other values.
The alternative is, of course, to allow citizens to determine their own laws and values. Hollywood could then focus on making movies.
I have similar objections to Greene’s proposed “divorce.” A suspension of voting rights for new citizens would raise serious constitutional questions and would likely not pass judicial review. However, it is also a fundamentally unsound and offensive presupposition.
There is understandable bitterness among voters in states like Florida, Texas, and Idaho who see Californians and Northerners flocking to their states for their lower crime, lower taxes, and affordable living. They are fleeing cities like New York, San Francisco, and Chicago. Yet, many then proceed to replicate the same political agendas of the cities that they just abandoned. That is called irony but it is also called democracy.
This a country based on freedom of travel where there have been historically great shifts in population through the decades, including the “Great Migration” of African Americans from the South to the North from the 1910 to the 1970s.
The new migration may indeed turn red states purple or even blue. Moreover, there are good-faith objections to the push by many Democrats to limit free speech and fears that the party is now engaging in a new type of McCarthyism against its opponents. However, denying fellow citizens the right to vote in state elections is akin to the Vietnam policy of destroying a village to save it. You cannot protect our core values by denying them to others. That is the tough thing about democracy. You have to convince, not coerce, people.
There are even calls for secession from blue states. One appears to be gaining steam as parts of Oregon seek to join a “Greater Idaho.” Likewise, there has long been a movement in California to split off into a separate state with more conservative counties creating a “New California” state.
What is most striking about Drescher’s call is that it would double down on a strategy that is already undermining Hollywood and woke companies like Disney. Drescher is now suggesting that directors and producers should be denied the right to choose the best states to capture the essence of a movie. It is akin to telling an artist that they are free to paint so long as they do use particular backgrounds or images. It is a denial of artistic expression of these filmmakers as well as punishment of voters for not replicating the values of Hollywood in these areas.
While Hollywood routinely ignores them, roughly half of this country are conservative and a huge percentage are religious. That includes over 74 million who voted for Donald Trump. Hollywood can continue to create movies for the liberal voters and even bar filming in conservative states. However, it could find itself with a smaller and smaller audience — and profits. While there are many contributing factors, Hollywood may already be seeing a backlash to its social and political agenda in films. “Lightyear” was thrilling for folks in Hollywood but a bomb at the box office.
For years, liberals (including many writers and editors) have called for blacklisting authors and artists. They would now blacklist whole states. That could make the situation worse for creators, viewers, and shareholders in the coming years. Groucho Marx once remarked that “in Hollywood, brides keep the bouquets and throw away the groom.” It may now be ready to keep the films and throw away the fans.