On Tuesday, after weeks of suspense-less delay, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a six week abortion ban into law as he’d long promised. The bill, slated to go into effect in January 2020, includes an incendiary provision declaring “unborn children are a class of living, distinct person.” The impact of those words, as laid out by Mark Joseph Stern at Slate, is far-reaching: it would effectively criminalize — with penalties including life in prison and death — any woman who seeks an abortion or even one who miscarries in the state. That’s a staggering thought, considering that one in four women will have an abortion before the age of 45.
The implications are serious enough that the day Kemp signed the law, Wire co-creator David Simon, who runs Blown Deadline Productions, declared on Twitter that his production company would not consider the state as a location for any upcoming projects. “I can’t ask any female member of any film production with which I am involved to so marginalize themselves or compromise their inalienable authority over their own bodies. I must undertake production where the rights of all citizens remain intact,” Simon tweeted.
But, by and large, the outrage over Georgia’s law and the potential impact on women who live or work in the state has been surprisingly mute from the entertainment industry, which brought an estimated $2.7 billion to the state in 2018 while filming some 455 productions there.
The silence is particularly deafening from Netflix, which is currently filming more projects in the state than any other company, according to the Georgia Department of Economic Development. While some of its marquee talent — including actress Alyssa Milano and producer Mark Duplass — have called for a boycott of the state, the streaming behemoth has not commented on the law. A Netflix representative directed Rolling Stone to an anodyne statement from the MPAA, which said that it was “monitoring” the situation in Georgia.
“Film and television production in Georgia supports more than 92,000 jobs and brings significant economic benefits to communities and families. It is important to remember that similar legislation has been attempted in other states, and has either been enjoined by the courts or currently being challenged,” the MPAA said in a statement. “The outcome in Georgia will also be determined through the legal process. We will continue to monitor developments.”
The MPAA position, shared by Netflix, appears to hinge on the hope that the ACLU or another legal advocate will swoop in to contest the law before it goes into effect in January. It’s not unreasonable to think that will in fact happen — the Georgia ACLU tells Rolling Stone it plans to file a robust challenge to the law later this summer — but the MPAA and Netflix’s unwillingness to stand up for the rights of their female employees in the meantime is noteworthy.
Part of the reason the silence is so noteworthy is because such boycotts have proved successful in Georgia in the past. A similar threat was enough, back in 2016, to convince then-Gov. Nathan Deal to veto a discriminatory “religious freedom” bill targeting gay and transgender people that was passed by the state legislature.
Milano, one of the stars of the Netflix show Insatiable, was among the first to threaten an entertainment industry boycott of Georgia back in March. The actress has said she won’t return to Insatiable if it continues filming in the state. Duplass, whose production company Duplass Brothers Productions has a four-picture film deal with Netflix, tweeted a plea to join him in boycotting the state on Thursday. “Don’t give your business to Georgia. Will you pledge with me not to film anything in Georgia until they reverse this backwards legislation?” Duplass asked.
Other stars of Georgia-based Netflix productions, including Dolly Parton, whose musical, Christmas on the Square, is among the Netflix projects listed as currently filming in the state, and Emma Roberts, filming Netflix’s Holidate, did not respond to a request for comment.
Netflix, while one of the biggest industry presences in Georgia, is not alone in its silence. Oprah’s OWN Network, whose shows Ambitions and Greenleaf are being filmed there, did not respond to a request for comment. A representative for Marvel, which filmed Black Panther and the latest Avengers movie at Pinewood Studios in Atlanta, did not respond to a request for comment either.