Updated: Jun 18, 2020
I try really hard to not check my Facebook. Even though I grew up twenty minutes from one of the country’s arguably most liberal cities, I still find political articles on my feed that really work me up. I make an effort to read right-winged articles and talk with my family who hold oppositional views from my own, as I know the importance of educating yourself on all sides. But it’s just something about Facebook.
During one of my recent weak moments of checking the social media I’ve almost deleted several times, I found an article headling something about Jason Bateman refusing to film in states where the heartbeat bill has been, or is planning to pass. It was the day after the uproar about criminalizing abortion began. It felt like an era kids will read about in textbooks. I, and many others around the world, were furious.
It’s just a coincidence that two extreme anti-abortion laws were announced at the same time this month. While abortion is illegal in eight states, with more tentative plans to do so on the way, Georgia and Alabama politics have been front and center of almost everywhere this week. Alabama laws have even been claimed as the most restrictive abortion law, as absolutely no exception will be made to an abortion, even the extreme, unsettling circumstances such as rape or incest. The result of breaking this law? Imprisonment for up to ten years.
I never thought of Jason Bateman as an activist, but he’s only one of two celebrities I’ve heard of speaking up for this. His form of allyship is that he won’t film anything in Georgia. He announced to The Hollywood Reporter, “If the ‘heartbeat bill’ makes it through the court system, I will not work in Georgia, or any other state, that is so disgracefully at odds with women’s rights.”
Announced two days after Bateman’s original revolt, female director and cinematographer, Reed Morano declared something similar. Morano, best known for The Handmaid’s Tale, was supposed to film a new Amazon show in Georgia, but cancelled their plans to do so in protest of the Heartbeat Bill.
Reading this for the first time, excitement rushed through me. Yes, it was great that Jason Bateman did something about this. His white, male identity holds solid ground in standing up against politicians that look just like him, but Jason Bateman will financially be just fine. But, seeing a young woman, one who is just gaining her grips in the film world, and just starting to create works that are becoming household titles protesting such, should be the name going down in history. Just by being a woman alone, Morano stands against the odds in the film industry, and political world. Her bravery and commitment to protecting those without a platform like hers, makes me want to catch up on all her old works I’ve never seen, and count down the days till her next one (The Rhythm Section, take note).
Not only is the refusal of these figures itself an act of solidarity, but filming in any state is a huge source of their revenue. By these productions pulling themselves out of these locations, the economy of these unjust states will naturally decline. I can’t think of a more powerful way to make a point than that.
I’ve always been drawn to wanting to take action on our trembling social climate through the way I know best, art. I’ve pondered for hours before bed and as I read through articles about how I can do something that seemed so impossible. Thanks to the brave women pioneers in the industry I so hope to be in, society is shown the power of not just media and entertainment, but women too.