In This Episode
- Amazon plans to buy movie studio MGM for $8.45 billion, which would give the tech company a huge library of movies, shows, and franchises including the James Bond series. Some in Congress want to block the sale. The tech company is also the target of a new antitrust suit from the D.C. Attorney General.
- The largest Confederate monument in the country is in Stone Mountain Georgia, and it’s three acres large and carved into the side of a rock face. The park said this week that the monument will be left intact, but more context will be added to represent the South in a way that doesn’t glorify the Confederacy.
- And in headlines: a gunman killed eight people in San Jose, Howard University names its College of Fine Arts after Chadwick Boseman, and the latest on sea snot.
Akilah Hughes: It’s Thursday, May 27th, I’m Akilah Hughes.
Gideon Resnick: And I’m Gideon Resnick, and this is What A Day where we’re asking for the Mars Rover’s address so we can send it a care package.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, I mean, I’ve just been writing Mars on stuff and I don’t know how to get more descriptive than that.
Gideon Resnick: It is where they are. I mean, you can’t fault us. On today’s show, a Georgia monument to the Confederacy will get a monumental revision. Plus, we’ll have headlines.
Akilah Hughes: But first, the latest. [Lion roaring] Wow. Well, the MGM lion and all that comes with him now belongs to Amazon. The natural progression of things, I guess. There is a lot going on with the company at the moment, from this deal to some potential legal troubles. So Giddy, let’s start with what we know about this MGM sale.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. So yesterday, Amazon said that it planned on purchasing MGM for a whopping $8.45 billion with a B dollars. Wow. Several outlets reported that this is about 40% more than what other companies kicking their tires thought the old Hollywood studio was worth—I don’t know who was doing what calculations where—those companies included Comcast and Apple apparently, though. Now Amazon is going to own a library of content from MGM, including an estimated 4,000 movies and 17,000 hours of TV, which means that they are going to try to rope in more Amazon Prime subscribers and try to compete with the other streaming services. The biggest get, or I guess one that got the most attention, about half of the James Bond series. Shout out to the first person who tweeted: No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to Prime.
Akilah Hughes: Oh, my goodness. Well, you know, I’m not saying that the Marilyn Monroe movies are more important, but I kind of am. So what else is part of the catalog?
Gideon Resnick: True. That is very true. Well, there are other movies like the Marilyn Monroe movies: there is Rocky, there’s Robocop, Silence of the Lambs, Legally Blond and more. But maybe the more wild part, honestly, is the TV side of things. So if you’ve gotten totally lost in all these monopolistic-y acquisitions like I have, you might have missed that years back, MGM actually acquired Mark Burnett’s production company. Yes, that Mark Burnett. So the MGM Library also has shows like Shark Tank and The Voice and all of The Apprentice—a show I’m sure everyone would love to revisit.
Akilah Hughes: Woof. I mean, what is Peacock going to do? Is peacock part of it now? I don’t know.
Gideon Resnick: I don’t know. I don’t know.
Akilah Hughes: Not really sure. But this is coming at a moment where these older movie studios are funneling things through streaming services—as we all know, HBO Max has the stuff from Warner Brothers. But this Amazon deal might not be a done deal yet. So what’s going on?
Gideon Resnick: That is a great question. I’d say it wouldn’t be a done deal if some members of Congress get their way here. So Amazon, like many of these other massive tech giants, has found a way to unite politicians of basically all affiliations in just hating their guts. To that end, yesterday, Senator Amy Klobuchar called on the DOJ to investigate the sale on the grounds that it could harm competition. Republican Representative Ken Buck and Senator Josh Holly voiced similar concerns, and said that the sale shouldn’t go through either.
Akilah Hughes: Wow. So they have people who believe that Joe Biden is the president and people who believe that Trump is the president saying: they suck.
Gideon Resnick: [laughs] yeah.
Akilah Hughes: Interesting. And on top of all of this, they also just got hit with an antitrust suit in D.C.. So what’s the word on that?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, the main contention from the D.C. attorney general is that Amazon is engaging in anti-competitive practices by basically preventing independent sellers from selling their stuff elsewhere at lower prices. That, in turn, also leads to higher prices for us, the consumers. And Amazon denies the allegations, of course, and the suit is somewhat limited, given that other AGs from other states didn’t join it. But it definitely does speak to this broader trend in antitrust suits against companies like Google and Facebook and an investigation into Amazon by the Federal Trade Commission.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, all this went down while Amazon held a shareholders meeting yesterday too. So what happened in that part of the whole thing?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, so a lot going on for Amazon. For one thing, Amazon workers from Bessemer, Alabama, including a previous guest of WAD, Jennifer Bates, spoke in an effort to back a couple of proposals at this meeting. One was to put an hourly worker on the board to address the risks that they face in their day-to-day jobs. Another was to press for an audit of Amazon’s impact on racial equity. Both apparently did not pass in Bezos’ last meeting as CEO—and apt ending maybe. Although he announced his final day is July 5th, but after that he’ll stick around as executive chair of the company’s board. So that is a recap of what is in store for Amazon’s future. Now, Akilah, you’ve been tracking a story that is about George’s past.
[clip of Rev. Abraham Mosley] The past is the past. And we have to live with it. And we have to grow from it, and try to make—so my concern is what we are doing today, and what about, what, what do we—and our hope for tomorrow.
Akilah Hughes: All right. So that was the first black chairman of the Stone Mountain Memorial Association, Reverend Abraham Mosley, talking about what the largest Confederate monument in the country means historically, and what it can mean for the future. Perhaps you learned about Stone Mountain, Georgia, as a punch line on 30 Rock, or last year when white supremacists marched there as a counter-protest to supporters of George Floyd, or maybe you’re just hearing about it today. But what you need to know is until recently, there is a park in the city filled with Confederate flags. It also has a giant stone mountain, and carved into its side is a huge mural of Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee. And I’m talking huge. The three-acre carving is the world’s largest bas-relief sculpture. To reiterate, it is the largest Confederate monument in the country. Yes, the country that defeated the Confederacy. The news is that this week the organization that runs the park said the monument will be left intact. However, there will be far more context added to the park about the actual history of the civil war that’s not just a one-sided love story for the side that lost.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, that would make some amount of sense. So regarding the history of the park, this huge carving wasn’t some preemptive, misguided, celebratory art from civil war times, right?
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, no, they didn’t think that they won and then they had to just like, live with it. [laughs] Like most of the Confederate monuments of the country, it was created in the civil rights era as a warning to Black people seeking equality. There’s no significance to the location for the civil war either. It was just, you know, a good place outside of Atlanta for racists to remind Black people that they weren’t welcome. And you know how Republicans are waging an all-out war on critical race theory and diversity, well back then they just carved their feelings into a wall, instead of being interviewed about it.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I guess the upside is they might have had some artistic talent as some point?
Akilah Hughes: [laughs] I miss the artistry of the racists. [laughs] Bring it back.
Gideon Resnick: Yes, definitely. Definitely what the take away is. OK, so the park is getting a facelift of sorts. What do we know about the planned changes?
Akilah Hughes: All right. So the park’s board of directors announced Monday that they’ll be creating a new on-site exhibit that explores a much more realistic view of the South’s history, rather than this fairy tale nonsense. And there were also loads of Confederate flags that line the park’s main walking trail, and those will be relegated to an educational section of the park rather than be the official treason flag of Stone Mountain. And beyond that, the official logo for the park will no longer be those Confederate losers depicted in the carving—I mean, leaders, but who’s counting? But this is all good news.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. Did the park’s leaders explain why they’re actually taking this step now? Hopefully it was related to the protest from last year.
Akilah Hughes: All right. So it’s worth noting that the pressure to update the park was not a partisan thing, but there was a lot of financial pressure. On Monday, the CEO of the association said that this was a business decision, which also checks out. Last year the park’s revenue plummeted by 50%. Obviously, some of that could be due to the pandemic, but in a state with shaky leadership, it’s clear that the Klan rally didn’t really help make the diet Dr. Republicans comfortable enough to have a picnic there. At least not without the robes.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. No diet Dr. Republicans have been found in or around Stone Mountain in the past year. We can attest.
Akilah Hughes: They just chillin out in their suburbs. But my last point is just that the state has laws on the books to protect Confederate monuments, while Governor Kemp recently called critical race theory a, quote “dangerous ideology.” So he doesn’t want teachers to teach about racism in the context of the civil war, but he also wants to protect the monument of the losing side that were fighting to keep slavery—an inherently racist and objectively more dangerous ideology. We’ll keep you posted as more of these antebellum garbage monuments are tumbling down. But that’s the latest for now.
Akilah Hughes: It’s Thursday, WAD squad, and for today’s temp check, we’re talking about improving our little social media prisons. Instagram and Facebook introduced an option yesterday that lets users hide like counts on posts. This comes in response to criticism that social media’s focus on public affirmation could affect mental health. I, news to me. [laughs]
Gideon Resnick: Yes.
Akilah Hughes: But with the new update, Instagram and Facebook users can hide likes on their feed with one setting, and make their own like counts invisible to others with a second setting. People have to opt in for now, so influencers don’t have to worry that their clout will disappear overnight. But Giddy, do like these options, and are you going to be enabling them?
Gideon Resnick: You know, I don’t know that I use either enough to make it work for myself to be perfectly honest. I feel like I don’t post on main, as it were for for Insta.
Akilah Hughes: It’s true.
Gideon Resnick: Or I have it in quite a while, or infrequently, so. That being said, yeah, I mean, like if you are having an issue with this being in your face all the time, disable it. Like come on. Yeah. Like it seems like there’s like no good reason not to do that if that’s going to make your day like ever so slightly easier. Yeah, like take the burden off of yourself. All that shit is stupid anyway, so . . . But same question for you Akilah, how do you feel about all this.
Akilah Hughes: I mean, I think it’s great to give people the options. You know, I do think that social media is very dangerous, especially for a lot of young people’s mental health.
Gideon Resnick: Oh yeah.
Akilah Hughes: Like I just thinking the other day, I wish—I mean, I’m glad that I didn’t have Instagram when I was in high school. Like, if I had to see what my crush was doing all the time on their story and it was with people who weren’t me, I’d just be devastated. Like every day would be the worst day of my life. But yeah, I think that, you know, knowing how many people are seeing things seems like a very great thing for a business who’s just trying to collect a ton of data and, you know rank us, and make that some sort of currency that we all have to chase after. But in a world without it, maybe people will actually be creative. Maybe people will say things that, you know, need to be said instead of what is popular. I think that, you know, it’s definitely for the greater good to stop incentivizing people to be the most, you know, bare minimum version of themselves to get likes. So I’m all for it. I’ll probably enable it. You know why? Because I don’t even look at main. I’m mostly on stories.
Gideon Resnick: Main, quite honestly, is boring.
Akilah Hughes: Well, just like that, we have checked our temps. Stay safe. You know, maybe just disable for a minute. See how it makes you feel. And we’ll be back after some ads.
Akilah Hughes: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Gideon Resnick: A gunman opened fire at a rail yard in San Jose, California, yesterday, killing eight people, many of them employees. The sheriff’s office identified the gunman as an employee of the transit authority but did not identify his motives. He was found dead at the scene, leading officers to believe he had killed himself. The shooting is believed to be the deadliest the Bay Area has seen since the ’90s. President Biden and Governor Gavin Newsom called on state and congressional lawmakers yesterday to take action on gun violence. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 68 mass shootings in the United States within just the past two months.
Akilah Hughes: Just too much. America, please get it together. Well, Howard University is naming its College of Fine Arts after alumni and Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman, who died of colon cancer last year at age 43. Bozeman had intended to serve on the board of the college and spoke at commencement in 2018. The dean of the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts is fellow alumni and legendary actor Phylicia Rashad. She starred as Claire Huxtable on The Cosby Show, won a Tony Award and lots of NAACP Image Awards, and was Boseman’s friend and mentor. Anyway, there’s still one billion things in this country named after old illiterate racists, so let’s just call them all Boseman until we figure out what the fuck is going on.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, that is a great plan. A small activist hedge fund made history yesterday after ousting at least two members from ExxonMobil’s board of directors. Engine No. 1 is a fund made up of investors with environmental goals and they’ve been leading an effort to appoint people to the board who can lead Exxon in a greener direction . . . as opposed to the direction that heads towards mass extinction. Those are our options. The group only owns a tiny portion of the company’s shares, but they’ve managed to convince some of Exxon’s biggest shareholders to support their candidates. Winning one board seat would be unprecedented for activist shareholders and Engine No. 1 got two. This is a huge step for shareholders that have been pushing for oil companies to invest more in renewable energy and work to reach zero emissions.
Akilah Hughes: While we’re on the subject of the planet’s future, a new consequence of global warming just dropped. In Turkey’s Sea of Marmara, thousands and thousands of tons of sea snot have appeared on the surface of the water. This stuff looks exactly like it sounds, and it harms ocean ecosystems and makes fishing impossible. The snot is created by phytoplankton, the microscopic plants that usually fill seas with oxygen. Usually we think of these plants as Nemo’s friends, but when there are too many, they become Nemo’s foes—it’s a better name for a movie honestly. Anyway, warmer water and pollution have caused phytoplankton populations to explode, leading to the excessive snot. It appeared for the first time near Turkey in 2007. Reversing climate change will help Mucinex the ocean, but until that happens, experts say Turkey needs to limit agricultural runoff and overfishing.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I’m going to send in tons of those little Mucinex guys.
Akilah Hughes: Go for it. I’m just going to check some Claritin in, and say a prayer. And those are the headlines.
Gideon Resnick: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, Mucinex the ocean, and tell your friends to listen.
Akilah Hughes: And if you’re into reading, and not just about snot like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Akilah Hughes.
Gideon Resnick: I’m Gideon Resnick.
[together] And name more things Bosman!
Akilah Hughes: It’s a great name. Has a good ring to it. The guy was fantastic. Why not?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. Bozeman, Montana. Rename it this Bozeman.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah. Chadwick A. Boseman, Montana. [laughs]
Gideon Resnick: There you go.
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.