Can we get rid of these people already?

AI, more societal ills in media and the larger economy.
Anyone see this “Irish Wish” Lindsay Lohan movie? I haven’t rejoined Netflix yet post-strike, but I hear its filled with AI, so we can only hope that most people recognize drivel and don’t go on to encourage this behavior from production houses…

           This year was the 25th anniversary of The Sopranos. You may have noticed renewed interest in the series, or at least the Instagram trend of the “#mobwife” aesthetic. Creator of the acclaimed show, David Chase, in an interview earlier this year stated “It [TV programs] is getting worse.” This is a valid argument from a man with 7 primetime Emmys and a litany of other creative awards andnominations. Keep in mind also, the big competition for most of the duration of The Sopranos was The West Wing. If you don’t think those two shows going head to head was the epitome of “prestige TV” you’re crazy. There is of course, still prestige television- we need only look to The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Game of Thrones, Stranger Things, True Detective, White Lotus, Succession, and The Bear….but the seasons are shorter, ALL of the aforementioned shows “air” on paid streaming services, and; as evidenced by the strikes this past summer, the creatives and laborers who work on these shows are often not being paid enough to earn a living. There is a post that has been circulating that I have reposted multiple times, I’m not sure of the original author but the sentiment is this: AI sounds great, because we should be using it for laundry, and the dishes, and housework, and helping to organize our taxes so that we can be free to have time to do art and writing. AI shouldn’t be used for the creative, it should be used for the banal. Humans want to create, we shouldn’t be using AI to take away from human nature, we should be using it to enhance our time and ability to enjoy our artistic pursuits be they our driving force or a hobby. Though the WGA and SAG strikes ended, this fight at large is still not over….and we are now starting to see how the behavior of the types of people who are in charge of movie studios, is impacting all areas of our economic and social lives.

           If you haven’t watched “Downfall: The Case Against Boeing” I suggest you do so. It won’t make you feel any better the next time you get on a plane, especially now that the main Boeing whistleblower “died by suicide”, cough was killed like Jeffrey Epstein cough. You will see how the movement away from anyone in leadership who knew anything about aerospace and toward people who are allegedly good at dollars and cents, created this problem. Not only were many parts of planes subcontracted; but when people who knew the product spoke up they were ousted, all for the sake of saving a few bucks. You’ll note something similar with Nike, of course they don’t make flying potential death traps, but never the less, Nike outsourced the production of the 2024 MLB uniforms to Fanatics, a notoriously awful apparel company. The complaints about these uniforms range from fans upset at the look and accompanying price of the uniforms (why would I buy a new $300 jersey that frankly looks like crap) to the players themselves upset that much of the customization has gone away, the stitching looks poor, the colors are off (the Cubbie blue is a specific pantone and the new jerseys are not quite right), the pants are somewhat see through, both the Mariners and Cardinals are missing some of their alt unis because they haven’t been “shipped” yet (the season started over a week ago), and if you’ve watched any Yankee games you can see how the allegedly “moisture wicking” fabric is anything but- cut to an absolutely DRENCHED Carlos Rodon who had to change his jersey in the 4thinning the other day because he looked like he had jumped into a pool despite being in a climate controlled ballpark in Houston. Meanwhile Nike is blaming their own layoffs on “more cautious consumer spending.” Well sure, I’m certainly not going to be purchasing a new MLB jersey this season and I can’t imagine most other fans are either. Fanatics, by the way has been called out in the past for similar quality issues with their NHL uniforms. And despite complaints Nike and Fanatics have deepened their relationship wherein Fanatics will be producing the Nike fan apparel for most of Nike’s NCAA partners.

           But wait there’s more!

This week the House Judiciary Committee will be holding hearings aimed, in no small part, at keeping the free Veteran journalist Catherine Herridge will be testifying about her dismissal (along with about 800 employees by Paramount) from CBS news and the subsequent holding hostage of her personal files by CBS News. CBS loves to air congressional hearings live- but I’m guessing this is one they’ll skip. Paramount, the parent company of CBS News has according to some articles in recent months “fallen” on hard times, but really Paramount has brought this all upon itself. If you’ll recall the numerous articles about the behavior and poor decisions made by previous President of CBS news Neeraj Khemlani (stranding people in Afghanistan after the US troop withdrawal, general bad behavior requiring the company to give him a personal HR rep to essentialy tail him around and make sure he spoke to people as if they were…people). And he came after a long line of faliures including several situations regarding the "bad men in media" like Charlie Rose and Les Moonves.

These companies, like Nike and Boeing and Warner Discovery and Netflix during the summer strikes have all brought their poor falling stock prices upon themselves, but the employees and consumers are the ones paying the price. Paramount, much like the rest of these companies has put people in charge who have no familiarity with the product the company creates, these people do not have experience in making media, or journalism, or airplanes, or athletic apparel, they are all hired because they are “financey” but it has become very clear, at least to me, over the last 12 months, that none of these people are even good at finance! If they were, they wouldn’t be making these monumental mistakes, or at the very least they would be learning from them. Despite all their stock buybacks these companies have largely falling stock prices, are laying off employees, and all seem to have the audacity to blame the American consumer.

           People want to buy clothing that is ethically created, up to the standards that the price dictates, and is the correct color, when supporting their team. People want to see more than one aerospace company in operation so that they can make a choice when deciding what to fly, people want to be able to trust the news- but find it very hard to do so because of the parent companies acting as cronies to the government, they want to be entertained by creators not by robots or the uber rich who are out of touch with reality, and they want to be able to earn a living, support their families, and enjoy their own hobbies all without fearing that if they say the wrong thing to their employer they’ll be fired, or worse killed.

           Many people will claim this all has to do with late stage capitalism. I don’t buy that argument, specifically when it comes to Boeing. If this were truly a capitalist society Boeing would have gone out of business as soon as the Lion Air 610 fell out of the sky. They didn’t simply because there are basically two commercial aerospace companies in the world, Boeing and Airbus. Airbus being French (and not without its own issues) is not heavily used in the United States and thus Boeing, much like the car companies and banks before it, was “too big to fail.” That’s not capitalism, that’s cronyism. With capitalism Nike would be competing constantly with other athletic wear manufacturers to keep their contracts with sports leagues, not colluding with other companies to keep the contracts in house. ESPN, Fox and Warner shouldn’t be able to collude for sports streaming rights in a fairly blatant violation of anti-trust laws, the 3 network news outlets, who broadcast FOR FREE on public airwaves should be competing for stories, sports contracts, interviews, etc.

           My hot take: all of this has to do with BAD people. You can be a genius creative or tech minded person and make millions, even billions of dollars and not be a terrible human being, you can pay people fair wages, treat people how you’d like to be treated and still become very rich. Just look at the late Satoru Iwata of Nintendo fame. Someone who, as the CEO of Nintendo was (gasp) familiar with the industry! When Wii U was released, it failed pretty badly, instead of laying off the people who made Nintendo great and who knew the business and replacing them with middle managers who you’d have to play 20 questions to figure out what they even do for a living, he cut his own salary- knowing that by keeping the right people in place perhaps the company would struggle in the short term but the video game engineers and designers who made Nintendo what it was, would be able to right the ship, if they could keep their jobs and not have a constant fear of layoffs and the inability to feed their families. So, let’s get rid of the bad people- we’ve gotten rid of some already, Harvey Weinstein comes to mind….but there’s a long list of people who have planted themselves at the tops of society that are unscrupulous and just flat out bad. Lets demand these people lose their jobs, and the ones who deserve it, be prosecuted for things like gross negligence that lead to the deaths of hundreds of people on two airlines. As Mister Rogers said, let’s look for the helpers, and maybe let them be in charge for a while.

Photo by Juliana Romão on Unsplash

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