by Jon Sanders
Research Editor and Senior Fellow, Regulatory Studies, John Locke Foundation
I wonder, amid all the reaction to Miley Cyrus’ weird, lewd, and flat-out bizarre performance at the Video Music Awards (go ahead and search for it if you wish; I doubt I could find a sufficiently unoffensive image from it here), if anyone remembered how important she was to the state’s economy, according to then-Gov. Bev Perdue and the General Assembly.
As I recounted in my study on the state’s film incentives:
When N.C. couldn’t sweeten deal, the Mouse walked. That was the pithy headline affixed to The News & Observer’s report of the embarrassment to the governor and state officials when Walt Disney Pictures decided in the final minutes to film “The Last Song” in Savannah, Georgia, instead of Wilmington.
“The Last Song” was written by North Carolina author Nicholas Sparks. It was set in Wrightsville Beach, outside of Wilmington. And the film would star Miley Cyrus, a popular teenage star of the Disney Channel hit series “Hannah Montana.”
Gov. Beverly Perdue had traveled to Wilmington for a press conference to announce that “The Last Song” would be filmed there. The day before, the N.C. Department of Revenue had ruled that Disney’s payment to Sparks for story rights failed to qualify for the state’s film incentives. The decision prevented Disney from obtaining an additional $125,000 to $250,000 refund from North Carolina. The governor’s office learned minutes before beginning the press conference that Disney executives were rethinking filming in N.C. The press conference was canceled.
Not long after “The Last Song” went to Georgia, the N.C. General Assembly passed and Perdue signed legislation greatly increasing the state’s tax breaks and other incentives to film productions.
Just out of curiosity: how many people can name where “The Last Song” was actually filmed? The film was going to be a real revenue driver, you know; it was going to bring in tourists and Miley fans enamored with the idea of walking the same sands as their idol. Long-lasting stuff communities are built on. Losing “The Last Song” represents THE missed economic opportunity of the century, or something.
Still, I can’t help but wonder if anyone was watching the VMA and saying,
See that woman emerging from the nether regions of a giant teddy bear, sticking her tongue out? The one gyrating with the sad-faced stoner bears? She’s stripping down to a modicum of nude-colored latex and rubbing a giant foam finger against her derriere that resembles a plucked chicken? Which she’s now pressing against a man in a Beetlejuice suit while singing his catchy anthem for rape?
Yeah, that woman. She has a long-lasting impact on North Carolina policy. For real.