Monday, January 29, 2007

'Hounddog' controversy inspires incentive debate

A state senator from North Carolina wants to take a bite out of "Hounddog." The Dakota Fanning film depicts the rape of young girl. "The movie tells the story of Lewellen, a girl played by 12-year-old Fanning, who is growing up in the 1960s South," writes Mark Schreiner.

Schreiner's story for the Wilmington Star-News outlines the beginnings of the debate.

The story resurrects the argument about the artistic merit (and definition) of obscenity. More interestingly, though, the senator wants to take away the incentives from movies deemed "objectionable," not just obscene.

What are you thoughts? What if Louisiana's tax incentives were limited to projects deemed "unobjectionable?"

Below is an excerpt from the story.

Republican: Scripts need reviewing
Movie prompts lawmaker's film incentive idea

By Mark Schreiner
Raleigh Bureau Chief

"Citing the controversy surrounding the Dakota Fanning film 'Hounddog,' the leader of the state Senate Republicans says he wants the government to review scripts before cameras start rolling in North Carolina.

"That system, said state Sen. Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, would apply only to films seeking the state's lucrative filmmaker incentive, which refunds as much as 15 percent of what productions spend in North Carolina from the state treasury.

"'Why should North Carolina taxpayers pay for something they find objectionable?' said Berger, who is having proposed legislation drafted."

To read the full story, click here.


Chris said...

The fact that Dakota Fanning chose to do this film should be merit enough that it's not just some sicko movie about a girl who gets raped. It must have some underlying message! Dang, who would see that coming? I mean look at "Hard Candy". It's all about a young girl who meets a man online and then meets him in person. It wasn't given a wrap because it was about an underage girl. It was praised as a freakin awesomely twisted movie. As it was, indeed. Louisiana politicians are bending to someone else's concerns and not holding up to what they said they would do concerning incentives. It's an out for them not to give money back to the filmmakers.

If this goes over siding with the cynics, I'm going to write a letter requesting that "The Year Without A Santa Claus" return the tax money it recieved because it defiled one of my favorite childhood memories. (It was based on a stop-motion short film from the 40s-50s). I mean if we are going to pussy-foot around choosing who should and shouldn't get the money back we could be signing our death warrant with other potential productions who have the subject of woman abuse in them. Man, Lifetime would never come here! Just think of it!

But in all seriousness, if they had a distribution deal and worked on the books, they shouldn't be concerning themselves with being retroactive towards this film. Every film has it's bad parts but that's part of it. You have to have bad in the film to get a message across. It's just the way it is.

It may sound like I'm passive about woman abuse, but I'm not. It's a major problem. Hence the reason this movie was probably conceived in the first place. I think that our state government shouldn't base anything on pure content alone. I would agree with monies being withdrawn if the movie was pro-rape or something but it most assuredly is not.

Stephen said...

This is ridiculous... OF COURSE he's Republican! I expect no less. I understand a state government not wanting to finance or offer tax rebates for film material they deem grossly obscene. However, I feel that judgement should be reserved for material that is vulgar and disgusting, for the sake and shock of being offensive. I don't imagine any SERIOUS filmmaker would want to divulge their time and finances into such a project. People are trying to build a career, and would never jeopardize their reputation. The movie "Hounddog" seems to about a very upsetting and tragic event. Rape is an aweful thing, ESPECIALLY for a 12 yr old girl, but this is reality and it happens all the time. Forget artistic expression!! As difficult as it is to watch (I'm sure), this story needs to be told. From reading the article, it sounds as though the "rape" scene, was discreet and very un-obscene. I haven't seen the movie or read the script, but I imagine this scene is core to the story... it has acheive that emotional impact on the viewer. Why are some people afraid of this? Open your eyes and welcome to our world! If the state of North Carolina decides to move forward to re-examine their tax incentive laws over THIS film, because of that one scene, I think they're venturing into the realm of unnecessary censorship. Even still, it's very possible it could happen and other states may consider following suite. I'm so glad I don't below the Mason-Dixon line.

otto said...

The kicker is that Hounddog would not have been affected by this new law, as North Carolina state officials viewed an uncut version of the movie and stated that nothing illegal had occurred, nor was it obscene.

G$ said...

Dakota Fanning might very well be one of THE most annoying little actors in the business. Watching her is like fingernails on a chalkboard for me. That little personal tidbit aside, if you dont like it, dont buy it. I believe A Time to Kill with drum bangin' Matthew McConaughey and the coolest dude on the planet, Samuel L. Jackson dealt with the same issue. One of those few times where I felt I could relate to a murderer (Jackson's role as the father of a 10-year-old girl killed his daughter's rapists). Decent flick.

Noma said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Rob Gordon said...

There's a difference between a movie about a girl who was raped but only implying (A Time to Kill), and actually showing the rape scene.

Dakota Fanning is 12 years old, and not mature enough to know what is good or bad for her. She's a child. She can't vote, she can't enter into a binding contract, she can't even get into the movies she stars in without mommy and daddy. To think that a 12 year-old is capable of making a decision like this is absurd.

Finally, her parents have done a wretched job of protecting her innocence.

Alexxxfan said...

I don't think Dakota Fanning's "maturity" is part of the issue (I hate to break it to you, but 12 year old girls are having sex. I'm not saying at all that they're having responsible sex or healthy sex, or that it's something parents should turn a blind eye toward, of course, but they ARE having sex). If we indicted our actors for not being mature enough (which is subjective) for the roles they play, then surely our viewing options would be very limited.

And, also not the point, but I think that Dakota Fanning's "innocence" (whatever that means) was probably lost long ago. She works in an industry that sells sex like its cheap booze. I'm sure she's been exposed to a lot. Being part of a film that seems to muse on the horrors of predatory and debased sexual desire could have been a learning experience for her and those around her ... and, potentially, those who watch the film. But the point is moot, anyway--as it's rooted in speculation and generality.

The answer, to me, is simple. This is about legislation. The NC State government created a contract with the filmmakers, and should stick by it. If it goes up for a vote, and voters decide that they want films to be reviewed, then the legislature should listen to them (this is, after all, their money). I would work very, very hard to make sure the definition of "objectionable" were as unambiguous as possible. And as that is likely an impossibility, I, personally, would vote against the measure. But I don't live in North Carolina. If the majority of North Carolina voters don't want their tax money to go toward films that their government find unpalatable for their eyes (or, I guess tastebuds would be more accurate), then that's their perogative. The state, I'm sure, will still benefit from filmmakers' presence, should they still decide to shoot there. And if they did decide to shoot there, it would be interesting to see how much "morals" came into play for the citizenry then. I can't imagine they wouldn't jump at the chance for a photo-op.

Stephen said...

This comment is in response to "the rob gordon". I live in Los Angeles and a couple years ago worked for a major talent agency here in Hollywood. I've met both Dakota and Elle Fanning (her little sister) and used to work everyday with their uncle (his sister is their mother). Those two girls are EXTREMELY mature for their age (almost eerily so, and this was in 2004) and I guarantee you that Dakota understood what that scene was about. In fact, I'm sure it was one reason she was cast for that role. I've never met their parents, but those girls come from a good family who take very good care of them.

On a more general note, I’ve seen interviews with child actors who have been in movies with “sensitive” scenes or horror movies. The children, at the time, didn’t realize what kind of movie they were in. You’d be surprised how a child can be protected on set, even if they’re directly involved. I’m not saying Dakota didn’t know what was happening, because I’m sure she did, but I’m sure the filmmakers were very careful and sensitive while shooting that scene.

Anonymous said...

What really amazes me is how so many people can give an opinion on a scene they haven't even seen.

The Rob Gordon said...

Anonymous said...

"What really amazes me is how so many people can give an opinion on a scene they haven't even seen."

I don't have to sniff glue to know it's bad for me.