In This Episode
- The Center for Disease Control announced revised mask guidelines yesterday, stating that people who are fully vaccinated can safely go maskless and stop social distancing most of the time, even if they are indoors. One hope is that the guidance will cut down on vaccine hesitancy; The Biden administration is effectively telling Americans that you can get vaccinated and do a lot more, or you can keep on wearing a mask and do less.
- The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is in hot water, with NBC announcing this week it cancelled its 2022 broadcast of the Golden Globes as a way of holding the show accountable for its lack of diversity and problematic pay-to-play model. We discuss the history of the HFPA, how it became so powerful, and how it responded to criticism.
- And in headlines: the death toll in Gaza rises above 100, doctors in Japan urge the country to cancel the Summer Olympics, and Russia launches a movie space race. Plus, FANTI’s Tre’vell Anderson fills in for Akilah Hughes.
Gideon Resnick: It’s Friday, May 14th.
Tre’vell Anderson: I’m Tre’vell Anderson, in for Akilah Hughes.
Gideon Resnick: And I’m Gideon Resnick, and this is What A Day where the CDC has officially given us permission to look stunning.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yes. We’re finally having our Hot Girls Summer, and I love that for us.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I’ve been waiting for Hot Girl Summer for many years now, and it’s science-sanctioned so nobody can stop me. And that’s why I like it. All right, first things first, we have an amazing guest host with us today, Tre’vell Anderson. Welcome to WAD, thank you so much for joining us.
Tre’vell Anderson: Thanks so much for having me. Excited to be here.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, this is going to be great. So for those of you who don’t know, Tre’vell is a long-time cultural journalist and is currently the Editor at Large for Toronto’s Extra Magazine and co-host of the podcast Fanti. Really, really glad to have you with us. This is going to be a blast.
Tre’vell Anderson: It’s going to be amazing. And you all will love it.
Gideon Resnick: [laughs] It’s true.
Tre’vell Anderson: Now, on today’s show, we’ll talk about the demise of the Golden Globes. Plus, we’ll have headlines. But first, the latest:
[clip of CDC Dir. Rochelle Walensky] Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing. If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic.
Tre’vell Anderson: That was CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. This seems huge, or at the very least symbolically. Gideon, what else did federal officials have to say about this unmasked life?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, that sounds good to say. Right? So Walensky also said that this relaxation of the rules for people who are vaccinated does not extend to when you go to the doctor, or get on public transportation like planes or being in airports, or for that matter what a state or local jurisdiction is going to require of us. She also mentioned that people who are immune-compromised can ask their doctors for more guidance about how this will actually apply to them. And Tre’vell, it’s a little bit unclear for now how this update would apply for work and school settings. That’s another hurdle to jump later. And there’s always a caveat that if conditions change in the US, the guidance could be updated. So this might have felt like a bit of a sudden shift for people. It kind of did for me. And for a while now, the CDC has been under some pressure for maybe being a little bit too conservative. That’s, of course, depending on who you talk to.
Tre’vell Anderson: Well, you know, some of us make sense, and some of us don’t. So Gideon, why did they say this now?
Gideon Resnick: Well, for one thing, the administration really does seem to want to make the choice quite clear for Americans. Option A is you can get vaccinated and do a lot more, have a lot more fun, or, B, you can keep on wearing a mask. And that’s the incentive part of this, as the White House is really trying to get to 70% of all adults with at least one dose by July 4th. Right now we’re at about 59%, but the daily pace is kind of slowed down quite a bit here. Then there’s the science part. So the U.S. is seeing the lowest amount of new daily cases in something like eight months—finally, finally getting out of that plateau from earlier in the year. And then Walensky cited a number of real-world studies showing the overwhelming effectiveness of the vaccines, and the evidence that they are quite effective against variants too.
Tre’vell Anderson: So getting that extra 11% or so in the next couple of months seems possible. But Gideon is this new guidance on going maskless going to be the thing that pushes people off the fence?
Gideon Resnick: We certainly hope so. You know, there was a UCLA study we mentioned earlier this week where Republicans said that they were more likely to get a vaccine if it meant some relaxing of these mask restrictions—they want to stick it to their liberal governors. This is an easy way to do it, I guess. And because, you know, it is really states that are going to decide this—as has been the case the whole time—it’s sort of interesting to look at what they’re trying to do on their own. So Oregon’s governor, for example, is one of many who recently said that restrictions can be lifted if they hit 70% of residents 16 and older getting at least one shot. Then Ohio is really doing something quite wild. There is going to be a weekly lottery where five people are going to get one million just for being vaccinated.
Tre’vell Anderson: I am now an Ohio resident. Thank you so much.
Gideon Resnick: Congrats on your move. I hope it all went smoothly, and I hope you enjoy being in the Buckeye State. I think that’s what it is still. One other strategy though: make the vaccine available in more places. Like with the recent authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for kids that are aged 12 to 15, some states are figuring out where to offer that. Some obvious choices are going to be schools, pediatrician offices, but then even camps and other places.
Tre’vell Anderson: Now, Gideon, we’ve been talking about this as if most of the people who haven’t gotten vaccinated are hesitant or just plain resistant. But there have been a couple good reports on people who do want the shot and haven’t yet because of some reasonable excuses on their part. What’s their story?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, it’s pretty interesting. And I think, you know, there is that segment that is the hesitant or resistant part. But there are two recent reports that got at this sort of question. One was from the Kaiser Family Foundation. It found that a full third of unvaccinated Latino adults actually wanted to get shots as soon as possible, but they didn’t because they had concerns about costs. You know, the shots cost nothing, so obviously there’s some misinformation about the vaccine that needs to be corrected out there. And also, some 2/3rds of those people surveyed said that they were concerned about missing work due to side effects. Others had concerns about how getting a shot might jeopardize their immigration status. There are efforts to correct those concerns as well, thankfully. Then for the other story, The New York Times spoke to some people who said they had challenges just carving out time in their workday to find the opportunity to get the shot. Simple as that. We’ll link to those articles in our show notes. But hopefully we’re going to be able to find ways to get to these folks soon. But Tre’vell, shifting gears, there is another story you’ve been keeping your eyes on that is super interesting. And I’m glad that you’re here to talk about it.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yes. So the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a.k.a. the HFPA, a.k.a. the folks who do the Golden Globes, is in hot water—rightfully so. You may have seen the recent news this week about NBC, the network that airs the award show, canceling its 2022 broadcast. While this was the network’s way of holding accountable the HFPA for its lack of diversity and its pay-for-play model that is now being called into question, it doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the Globes all together, but it could mean that changes are finally on the way.
Gideon Resnick: OK, so then remind us when all of this recent trouble, if you will, started Tre’vell.
Tre’vell Anderson: So most recently, it all started back in February when the Los Angeles Times published an investigation about the association. Composed of 90-ish journalists—and I use that word loosely—who worked for international outlets, the study noted that in addition to the group’s members taking home a collective two million dollars in payments, which is very likely an ethical and potentially federal violation, the EPA also has zero Black members. The report also highlighted the ways in which film and TV studios and streaming services are complicit in the issue, often footing the bill for extravagant press excursions for HFPA’s members. You will probably remember back in 2019, 38 HFPA members were treated to a set visit of the series “Emily in Pairs.” Yes, in France, a two-night stay at a five-star hotel where rooms easily run about $1,400 a night.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I could not be in this association because I would take, I would take that. I would take that and run with it, quite frankly.
Tre’vell Anderson: Listen, we all love a free trip. When many realize this, though, it explained how the very blah show that is Netflix’s “Emily in Paris” nabbed two Golden Globe nominations at the year’s ceremony. Meanwhile, pivotal and groundbreaking television like Michaela Coel’s “I May Destroy You” and Issa Rae’s “Insecure” were snubbed.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, it’s always the mediocrity sneaking in. So how did the HFPA and the Globes become so powerful in the first place anyway?
Tre’vell Anderson: Well, the Globes were created by the association back in 1944 and almost immediately developed a reputation that persists today as unserious. Many folks in the industry have said the show is ultimately meaningless and likely corrupt. But up until now, it seemed as if everyone was comfortable with that being an open secret. It really became a thing in the ’90s because a struggling NBC picked up the Globes for broadcast and the show became an advertising juggernaut, with the network most recently generating about $50 million in ad sales annually. And as we know in Hollywood, money talks. Interestingly enough, though—and a sign that something in the buttermilk ain’t clean—noted abuser and con man Harvey Weinstein was a strong proponent of the award show, figuring out a way to capitalize on its timing and potential influence on Oscars voting. Other studios eventually adopted a similar playbook.
Gideon Resnick: Yuck. Haven’t thought about him in a while and not happy that I had to.
Tre’vell Anderson: Sorry about it.
Gideon Resnick: That’s OK. This is a problem that’s been a long time coming and we’re only seeing shake-ups happened this week. What has been the HFPA’s response in all of this?
Tre’vell Anderson: Luckily, they’re trying to shed a little bit of their trash ways. On the broadcast of the Globes earlier this year, they gave themselves a deadline of last week to announce what changes they were going to undertake. These changes include increasing the group’s membership by 50% over the next year and a half, with a particular focus on Black journalists, and hiring diversity consultants after those they initially hired to do the job quit in protest last month. Since the announcement of these commitments, companies like Netflix, Amazon, Warner Media, have called for more. Some celebs are also getting in on the action, too. On Monday, Scarlett Johansson called out the group and Tom Cruise reportedly returned his three globe trophies. But just a note, because folks like to rewrite history, Black folks and particularly Black women like Jada Pinkett Smith and Ava DuVernay have long called out the HFPA for their foolishness. So it dates back further than just this current moment.
Gideon Resnick: Yes, it does. And is there any idea how this is actually going to impact other award shows like the Emmys and Oscars, for instance? Because the issue of diversity isn’t just a problem with the Golden Globes.
Tre’vell Anderson: Well, the Oscars in particular still has eyeballs on it in the aftermath of Oscars So White, the 2015 hashtag started by April Reign that jumpstarted the industry’s current iteration of conversations about diversity, equity and inclusion. We’ve since seen various forms of attempted accountability and change, either by the film and TV academies or the studios. But there’s still a long way to go. We still have winners of many of these awards being the first or the second of their race or gender to take home prizes in their categories. A number of critics and award season prognosticators have been ruminating on ideas of what an awards season without the Globes might look like, how it might shift things. But it’s just too soon to tell. And that’s the latest for now.
Gideon Resnick: It’s Friday, WAD squad, and for today’s temp check, we are talking about paper collectibles. Target has announced that it will stop selling trading cards, both the sports and Pokémon kind, following a violent card-related dispute outside a store in Wisconsin. Yikes. That dispute led to four people getting arrested. Trading cards of all kinds have surged in value over the pandemic, with one rare Charizard card selling for nearly $400,000 earlier this year—I am angry. Target previously capped purchases at one pack of cards per day to cut down on frenzied buying, and now they’ll only be selling cards online. So, Tre’vell, what is your reaction to this? And do you have your own personal card memories?
Tre’vell Anderson: Well, I have to say, just reading, you know, the details, I’m like, this probably doesn’t involve my people. You know, the Wisconsin of it all, the Pokémon of it all. That said, I do remember trying to get into, you know, Pokemon and Digimon and Yu-Gi-Oh! cards back in the day. It just never really stuck with me. I don’t know why. What about for you?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I never played them but I certainly like, went to—I have like, memories that maybe are Mandela Effect-ed for me, where we went to sort of far flung places to get like a rare Charizard that was at someone’s yard sale or something like that. So there’s definitely like a collection aspect for me, which made me mad that I wasn’t one of the people that was selling this for an insanely high amount of money, because I don’t know where they are now. Like, do you know where any cards were that you collected at any point in your life?
Tre’vell Anderson: Oh, no. Luckily, my family’s not full of hoarders, so it’s probably in somebody’s dump somewhere, unfortunately. I’m missing out on a lot of money, as I’m sure you are, too. But, you know, it is what it is.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I don’t think that I would get into the level of having a physical altercation over these.
Tre’vell Anderson: It’s not that serious.
Gideon Resnick: But I guess congrats to the person who earned $400,000 on a Charizard card.
Tre’vell Anderson: I mean, if he’s, if he’s letting people borrow some coins, I’m here.
Gideon Resnick: Yes. Yes, we are here. You know how to reach us. You’re listening to the show right now, I assume. But just like that, we have checked our temps. Stay safe, don’t get into fights over cards, please. And we’ll be back after some ads.
Gideon Resnick: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Gideon Resnick: Israel aggressively ramped up its attacks on the Gaza Strip yesterday. An Israeli military spokesperson initially said there were ground troops attacking, but later said that they hadn’t entered Gaza. That is in addition to increasing airstrikes. The overall death toll in Gaza jumped to 109 people, including 28 children at the time of recording. Civilian violence on the streets of Israel also continues to escalate, with groups of far-right Jewish Israelis increasingly targeting Arab residents. There have also been isolated reports of the same violence vice versa. Some Israeli leaders are describing the unrest as the beginnings of a civil war, while Palestinian leaders say it all stemmed from violence against Palestinians by Israeli security forces and right-wing settler groups. In terms of what the US is doing, UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield will finally meet with the UN Security Council to discuss the situation after refusing to talk when the violence began last week. Progressive lawmakers in the House spoke out yesterday against the US response so far. This is what Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had to say:
[clip of Rep. Ocasio-Cortez] And the United States must acknowledge its role in the injustice and human rights violations of Palestinians. This is not about both sides.
Tre’vell Anderson: The 2021 Olympics in Tokyo is still set to kick off this July, but a growing number of people in Japan are starting to question how safe it will be. Yesterday, a doctors’ union put out a statement calling on the government to cancel the games over concerns that it will overrun the country’s already stretched medical resources. Japan is currently fighting its fourth wave of infections, with Tokyo and several other cities still under a state of emergency. Just this week, over 7,000 new infections across the country were reported in a single day. Dozens of towns have also backed out of plans to host Olympic athletes over the same concerns. The Japanese government has been criticized for its dismal vaccine rollout, with only 2.8% of the population vaccinated so far. Officials have said that they plan to offer vaccines to over 2,500 athletes and Olympic support staff using donated shots.
Gideon Resnick: I guess if they’re covered and the rest of the population is not we go forward with this? [laughter] I don’t know. As Americans breathe sighs of relief and pour hoarded fuel from their garbage bags into their gas tanks, it is time that we reflect on the sacrifices that were made to get the Colonial Pipeline back up and running. Specifically, the nearly $5 million in ransom money that was paid to cyber criminals who got access to Colonial’s data. This transaction was reported yesterday by Bloomberg News. Colonial paid the ransom in Bitcoin, which serves as a message to the cryptocurrency haters. The coins are useful, and if you don’t believe me, you can ask Russian hacking gangs that target fossil fuel companies. Colonial moved quickly, sending the money within hours of the attack last Friday. The FBI discourages these kinds of payments, but companies often send them anyway. Listen, if hack WAD, just know we have no backbone and we will immediately send you everything we own. But we mostly own promo codes for meal kit subscriptions and home security cameras.
Tre’vell Anderson: The real collectible items, OK.
Gideon Resnick: It’s true. It’s true.
Tre’vell Anderson: When NASA officials said last year they’d help get Tom Cruise to space for a movie, they were poking a bear. And now that bear, who is also a president and goes by the name Vladimir Putin, is striking back with a plan to make Russia the first country to film a movie in orbit. The details were announced yesterday by Russia’s space agency. The country is basically rebooting the space race by sending an actor and director to the International Space Station this October—the very same month, Cruise and director Doug Liman are scheduled to film there. Importantly, the Russian mission will depart in the first few days of the month, so if Cruise wants to get to the ISS first, he might have to rely on his Mission Impossible training and just hang onto the side of their rocket ship. One of Russia’s main TV channels will document and broadcast the pre-flight training of the film’s crew, so Cruise can scan the footage for weaknesses to prepare for the unavoidable brawl that will happen in zero gravity.
Gideon Resnick: I’m afraid for them. I would not want to confront him in zero gravity. That’s scary. [sigh] Yikes. And those are the headlines.
Gideon Resnick: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, do not hack WAD, and tell your friends to listen.
Tre’vell Anderson: And if you’re into reading, and not just thrilling scripts for space movies like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
Gideon Resnick: I’m Gideon Resnick.
[together] And don’t fight on the space station!
Gideon Resnick: It’s dangerous out there.
Tre’vell Anderson: Watch out.
Gideon Resnick: They can’t hear you scream. Yeah, no gravity. Tom Cruise might be up there.
Tre’vell Anderson: Or he might not, you know.
Gideon Resnick: Or he might not. Then you have a chance. Then you have a chance.
Akilah Hughes: What a day is a production of Crooked Media.
Gideon Resnick: It’s recorded and mixed by Charlotte Landes.
Akilah Hughes: Sonia Htoon and Jazzi Marine are our associate producers.
Gideon Resnick: Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producers are Leo Duran, Akilah Hughes and me.
Akilah Hughes: Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.