Another Theater Mounts A Legal Battle Against Law Saying It Can't Serve Customers Beer And R-Rated Films At The Same Time
from the with-more-Deadpool-than-usual dept
In the US, you can be given a gun and a chance to catch bullets for your country at age 18. Three years after that, the US government will finally allow you to purchase your own alcohol. At 21, you can finally be the “adult” in “adult beverages.” Except in some states. Some states tie booze purchases to morality. (I mean, even more so. It’s subject everywhere to “sin taxes.”)
As we covered here earlier, the state of Idaho says adults can drink booze and watch movies meant for mature audiences, but not always simultaneously. In Idaho, state police have been busting theaters for showing certain movies while serving alcohol, thanks to statutes that say it’s illegal to serve up both booze and “simulated sexual acts.”
In Idaho, theaters are trying to get the law ruled unconstitutional — pointing out that the law is only selectively enforced (cops raid theaters showing “Fifty Shades of Gray” rather than “American Sniper,” even though both contain depictions of sexual acts) and allows the state to use liquor statutes to regulate speech.
Over in Utah, the same problem exists. The theater targeted here — Brewvies — isn’t taking the state to court. Yet. Instead, it’s fighting to stay alive. It appears a bunch of cops went to see a movie they probably wanted to see anyway while on the clock and handed the theater an ultimatum.
Brewvies is facing a fine of up to $25,000 fine and could lose its liquor license after undercover officers attended a screening of Marvel’s R-rated antihero film “Deadpool” in February.
The state says playing “Deadpool” while serving booze violates Utah law because the movie includes nudity and simulated sex, including a suggestive scene in the film’s credits involving a cartoon unicorn. The obscenity law is generally used to regulate strip clubs, which are required to have dancers wear G-strings and pasties if the club serves liquor.
It also bans showing any film with sex acts or simulated sex acts, full-frontal nudity or the “caressing” of breasts or buttocks if at businesses with liquor licenses.
In addition to seeking funds to pay the threatened fine, the theater is hoping to raise enough to seek an injunction against the statute on the same grounds as the challenge in Idaho: that liquor laws are being abused to regulate First Amendment activity.
The theater is seeking $75,000 and Deadpool himself, Ryan Reynolds, has already pitched in.
The theater has since set up a gofundme page and has raised, at the time of writing, $17,352 out of its $75,000 goal. $5,000 of that came from Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds himself.
The underlying problem is the state’s insistence on deciding what the right combination of booze and entertainment should be for a state full of adults who are legally allowed to do other things far more “adult” than having a beer while watching a movie that contains depictions of sexual activity. Why either activity is OK when enjoyed separately, but somehow a problem when combined, is something only the state pretends to comprehend. These are leftover laws meant to regulate sexually-oriented businesses like strip clubs and porn theaters, but they’re being used to extract fees from theater owners who want to treat adults like adults. Like any other badly-written law, it’s being enforced selectively with an eye on easy citations and excessive fines.