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Right now every New Yorker is furious with the state government for being, well, incompetent jerks. On their own they're capable of covering up domestic violence and violating House ethics laws, but when put together New York State's lawmakers accomplish basically nothing. They've repeatedly failed to pass a state budget that was supposed to be set in April, and are basically holding the New York City MTA--responsible for the buses and subways that get nearly all of us everywhere we go-- hostage. The MTA is now being forced to raise fares again, just a few months after the last hike, because Albany doesn't have the money to provide the subsidies they have in the past.
What does this have to do with the movie industry? You may have noticed that the number of films and TV shows shot in New York City has increased exponentially over the last decade, thanks to an expansive series of tax breaks offered to film productions so that they won't just swap in Toronto instead. The tax breaks apply to the entire state, which-- you guessed it-- means that the dysfunctional state government is in charge of extending them for another year. And, as reported by THR, the latest legislative session dedicated to passing the budget ended in a stalemate, quite possibly because some lawmakers didn't even bother to travel to Albany from their summer homes because they didn't even expect the thing to pass. That's the face of defeat, kids.
I'm already pretty worked up about the potential MTA hikes-- a $90 unlimited MetroCard that's limited to 3 swipes a day and therefore not unlimited? Seriously?-- so forgive me if this unfiltered rage seems over the top. While it hurts more to know that I'll be paying out the nose for terrible subway service, it hurts in a different way to realize that the icons of New York City will start slipping away from movies and TV simply because the government doesn't care. This happens to Los Angeles all the time-- Mexico, Vancouver, even Louisiana sub for the city because they're cheap alternatives-- but New York seemed to have found a way to make sure the city itself stayed in the picture, and movies have benefited from it. It's why we got Sex and the City and Bored to Death and White Collar and don't forget Law & Order (RIP), and why Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind felt authentically Long Island and The Squid and the Whale felt authentically Brooklyn and why Woody Allen came back from Europe and made Whatever Works here-- it wasn't that great a movie, sure, but it felt like my home. Everyone knows when a movie is really in New York, and hopefully everyone will know it's the half-wits in Albany to blame if we start seeing Toronto instead. If they think other cities can sub just as well for New York in the movies, maybe I'll move there and take my squandered tax dollars elsewhere.
(Photo via this awesome blog)