Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Censorship for Dollars...

From the New York Times:

Disney Forbidding Distribution of Film That Criticizes Bush

The Walt Disney Company is blocking its Miramax division from distributing a new documentary by Michael Moore that harshly criticizes President Bush, executives at both Disney and Miramax said Tuesday.
The film, "Fahrenheit 911," links Mr. Bush and prominent Saudis - including the family of Osama bin Laden — and criticizes Mr. Bush's actions before and after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
A senior Disney executive elaborated that the company had the right to quash Miramax's distribution of films if it deemed their distribution to be against the interests of the company. The executive said Mr. Moore's film is deemed to be against Disney's interests not because of the company's business dealings with the government but because Disney caters to families of all political stripes and believes Mr. Moore's film, which does not have a release date, could alienate many. (bold mine)
"It's not in the interest of any major corporation to be dragged into a highly charged partisan political battle," this executive said.
Mr. Moore's agent, Ari Emanuel, said Michael D. Eisner, Disney's chief executive, asked him last spring to pull out of the deal with Miramax. Mr. Emanuel said Mr. Eisner expressed particular concern that it would endanger tax breaks Disney receives for its theme park, hotels and other ventures in Florida, where Mr. Bush's brother, Jeb, is governor.

(Bold mine)

Michael responds here.

My view is if this tax break charge is true then this is actually worse than censorship.

What I find particulary gauling is this statement: "Mr. Moore's film could alienate many". Who the fuck are they kidding? Isn't that what artists are supposed to do? Why is alienating people a bad thing? Especially in a democratic society where ideas should flow freely?

What's just as ridiculous is that Disney knew exactly the kind of film Michael Moore would make. Pulling out now and denying distribution just makes them look like (Conservative) political dups who are afraid not only to ruffle feathers but to upset future financial dealings that have nothing to do with the film in question.

But have no fear in the long run this will actually help the film because now it is a censored product. Let's see if now it wins a prize at Cannes and goes on to make millions.