I blogged a bit about this when the show first started airing.
Now we learn Memphis Beat, the cop show claiming to have a Memphis storyline, has been cancelled by TNT, the cable channel that aired it for two years.
I came down hard on it and don’t regret it. But the show really isn’t the point and it never was.
If you are still waiting for Hollywood to stop thinking that Southern is synonymous with slow, simple and stupid you will be waiting a while.
Forking over cash money to the same folks as “incentives” for making movies and television shows here won’t change the mindset either. And the name of the game in “incentives” is cash on the table with no need to bother with the accounting and no claw back provisions.
These are the same folks who made a movie in Mississippi about the murder of Medgar Evers and made Evers a minor character in the story line.
The answer to this remains for us to tell our own story.
We talk about creating human capital and work force development. But when the work force works in the creative arts, that becomes the creative class and the attention shifts to attracting the creative class from other cities to Memphis.
It’s already here and certainly more are welcome. But you can find it every night of the week playing in a bar. You can see it at one of several film festivals and in several recent documentaries that Memphians lined up to see in special showings Malco theaters were kind enough and wise enough to host.
They write poetry and publish it themselves. They teach art even as they change the art form.
The chances are pretty good that you have a nephew, a daughter, a cousin or friend whose focus in life is the theater, ballet or music at some level.
Memphis isn’t seen as an “industry town” for any of this to the degree of a Nashville or a Los Angeles.
That makes it harder, much less comfortable — although if you believe Memphians going to Los Angeles don’t struggle I have several references I can furnish you.
And creativity’s nature involves denying or ignoring boundaries including the most obvious boundaries of being limited by where you come from.
But there is a double standard in too many cases I think. We are now in the habit of telling those bound for college in pursuit of a career in science or business or medicine to consider returning home when they get their education. But those in entertainment or the arts we wish well in their journey to whatever we see as the capital or center of that pursuit.
For the first group we promise there will be something here for them to return to and contribute to. For the second group, the foundation for both is already present. It’s not the only stage or studio or setting. But it is the one they know best and whose story they can tell better than anyone else.