Will Film Commission ‘Machete’ Rodriguez’s New Film?

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Back in 2007, our esteemed Texas Legislature passed a law that allows the state to forbid tax incentives to any kind of film, TV or game project that contains “inappropriate content or content that portrays Texas or Texans in a negative fashion.”

The definition of “inappropriate content” is about as wide open as the West Texas prairie. But it’s up to the Texas Film Commission to determine what’s hating on Texas and what isn’t. So far, they’ve nixed a movie about the 1993 raid on the Branch Davidian Compound in Waco. Now they may put the kibosh on “Machete” the latest blood soaked opus by Austin filmmaker Robert Rodriguez, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Not known for his subtlety in filmmaking, Rodriguez released a fake trailer from his movie on Cinco de Mayo starring gravel faced Danny Trejo. The trailer is an over-the-top spoof on Arizona’s recently passed anti- immigrant legislation. In the trailer, Trejo is every immigrant-basher’s nightmare. When he’s not out looking for work mowing lawns or fixing shingles he’s sporting a Border Patrol uniform and blasting way at the MAN.

The Star-Telegram sums it up as “a kind of revenge fantasy for illegal immigrants.”

Hyper-conspiranoid radio chat host Alex Jones and conservative bloggers are lobbying Texas not to grant Rodriguez his tax incentives for filming the movie here. Not sure, how much sway Alex Jones has over Rick Perry these days, though Perry has gone so far down the Right Wing nut trail this election cycle – you just never know.

Rodriguez says the trailer was just a joke. “The movie is very over-the-top satirical, and it’s only because of what’s happened in Arizona that some scenes actually feel at all grounded in reality, which is pretty nuts and says more about Arizona than any fictional movie,” he told Ain’t It Cool News.

Apparently Texas and Utah are the only states that have these film morality clauses (correct me if I’m wrong). Florida is also contemplating the idea of turning Florida films into “family friendly productions.” This would nix films that include smoking, gay people, sex, nudity, nontraditional family values, gratuitous violence, or vulgar or profane language.

The author of this legislation Florida State Rep. Stephen Precourt, whose district includes Disney World,  wants to encourage movies to depict his version of the ‘60s.

“Think of it as like Mayberry,” he told the Palm Beach Post News. “That’s when I grew up — the ’60s. That’s what life was like. I want Florida to be known for making those kinds of movies: Disney movies for kids and all that stuff. Like it used to be, you know?”

Geez, didn’t the ‘60s also include the Kent State massacre, the battle for desegregation and the assassinations of Rev. Martin Luther King and President Kennedy?

(Actually, the Kent State massacre was in 1970, gracias Michael Hoinski)

These laws aren’t going to do anything but persuade directors and producers to take their money somewhere else. Why film in Texas and have to subject your film to censors when you can go to Canada or just about anywhere else where there are numerous incentives and no strings attached.

Melissa del Bosque joined The Texas Observer staff in 2008. She specializes in reporting on immigration and the U.S.-Mexico border. Her work has been published in national and international publications including TIME magazine and the Mexico City-based Nexos magazine. Melissa is a 2014-15 Lannan Fellow at The Investigative Fund.