Calvin Freiburger

A Taste of their Own Medicine: Leftist Hollywood Whines About Indonesia’s New Tax on Foreign Films

Posted on February 21 2011 7:00 pm
Hailing from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Calvin Freiburger is a political science major at Hillsdale College. He also writes for the Hillsdale Forum and his personal website, Calvin Freiburger Online.
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Every once in a while, leftists inadvertently reveal that they understand economics better than they let on…when it’s their own bottom line that’s at stake. Today, the AP reports that Hollywood isn’t taking kindly to a new Indonesian tax on non-Indonesian films:

The MPAA has responded by saying that last week’s release of Oscar- nominated “Black Swan” could be the last for a Hollywood film in this nation of 237 million. Distributors from Europe and Asia have made similar warnings.

Film-lovers have taken to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to complain, while the country’s largest cinema chain begged Monday for the government to drop the tax.

“We’ll see theatres close one by one unless a solution is found,” warned Noorca Massardie, spokesman of 21 Cineplex, which has more than 500 screens.

Studios participating in the boycott include Paramount Pictures, Sonny Pictures Entertainment, Walt Disney Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox Film, Warner Bros Entertainment and Universal Pictures, leaving Indonesian movie fans gasping.

They spend an estimated $6.2 million a month at theatres.

Now, Indonesia is certainly within its rights to levy such a tax if it so chooses, and studios are well within their rights to only distribute their films in venues with the best potential for profit. It’s their product, their business, and their money at stake. (And I’m sorry to disappoint the outraged woman quoted as saying “they’re taking away our right to watch high-quality films,” but no such right exists. Nobody has a “right” to be given a good or service created or owned by someone else.)

But has it ever occurred to the socialism-espousing, Democrat-supporting actors who star in those films that this is the same kind of decision most other businesses face every day, thanks in part to the high taxes and meddlesome government regulation they support, which make some states more welcoming business environments than others? What makes Disney, Fox and Sony any less evil and greedy than Dodge, Exxon and Microsoft?

Answer: nothing. All businesses are out to make money, and there’s no shame in that. They do it by making and providing things we want or need, and they create jobs in the process. Alec Baldwin and Angelina Jolie might think Hollywood is somehow better because it creates “art” and disseminates Very Important Messages, but the truth is that what Hollywood churns out these days is hardly essential, especially when compared to, say, cars, laptops, oil, and medical innovations.

It’s long past time for Hollywood to get off its high horse, recognize that it’s part of Big Business too, and stop demonizing other companies for routinely making the same decisions, for the same reasons, as they do.

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