BOBBY HARRISON: The many faces of Mississippi’s character

DDG6_bobbyharrisonJACKSON – It is all about jobs and image. The clear message resounded Monday when announcing that a movie on the life of entertainer James Brown would be filmed in the state that Mississippi’s political leaders want to court Hollywood.

They believe that Mississippi, which already has been the location for the filming of a significant number of movies, can lure Hollywood at such a rate that a permanent movie service industry could be established in the state creating good-playing jobs.

They also believe that if the state becomes a significant player in the movie industry that it will be good for the state’s image.

After all, nothing screams image like Hollywood.

On the same day that it was announced that the filming of the biographic on the legendary Brown would be done in Mississippi, much of the state’s political leadership held discussions on the possibility of Mississippi being a site to store interim nuclear waste and reprocess it.

Whether Mississippi will ever become a primary destination for Hollywood movie making is questionable, but that is lot closer to happening than the state becoming the site for the storage and reprocessing of nuclear waste.

As it stands now, the federal government does not allow for the commercial reprocessing of nuclear waste. But some believe as the technology advances, that could change.

If it ever occurs, it will no doubt, based on various studies, create a slew of good-paying jobs.

The question, though, is at what costs? Many people – of both political parties – have questioned whether Mississippi would want to venture into the area of storing dangerous nuclear waste. U.S. Rep. Steve Palazzo, Biloxi Republican, said,

“Whatever plans are brewing for a possible nuclear waste facility, I think now is the time to send a clear message: No nuclear waste in Mississippi. Not now, not ever.”

Democratic Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley of the Northern District said he did not want Mississippi to become “the dumping ground” for other state’s nuclear waste

Just as we have some experience with the movie industry, we also do with nuclear waste. In the 1960s, the only test nuclear explosions ever conducted east of the Mississippi River occurred deep underground in south Mississippi in what is

known as the Tatum salt domes.

Does that bit of history have an impact on the state’s image?

Some would argue that the state’s conservative Republican leadership getting figuratively in bed with Hollywood would not do anything to boost the state’s image.

After all, liberal Hollywood types such as actor George Clooney, Miramax founder Harvey Weinstein, and mega director Steven Spielberg have literally raise millions of campaign dollars for President Barack Obama who is viewed by much of Mississippi’s political leadership as a destroyer of America.

Or is the political leadership proud of the fact that part of a movie on the life of Hustler publisher Larry Flynt was filmed in north Mississippi years ago?

It is a bit counterintuitive that some of the most conservative political leaders in the nation would be recruiting, including offering state tax breaks, people, who as a group, are probably the most liberal in the country.

Perhaps, just as counterintuitive, is the fact that such a group of liberals might be willing to be courted by Gov. Phil Bryant, who has a history of statements that liberals would find offensive, such as saying the left’s “one mission in life is to abort children – is to kill children in the womb” or that the problems with public education began when “mom got into the work place.”
The fact is that economics and making money trump image in almost every instance – even in image conscious Hollywood or in Mississippi political circles.

After all, regardless of politics, the truth is that everyone loves the movies.

Nuclear waste, though, is another story and might be a much harder sale for Mississippi political leaders.

After all, did you ever see the films Silkwood or The China Syndrome.

The nuclear industry did not come off very well in either.

BOBBY HARRISON is the Daily Journal’s Capitol Bureau chief. Contact him at (601) 353-3119 or

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