Corporations provide us with various goods and services, as well as quality banter on social media. But most are ultimately on the side labelled "Make all the money in the world, and actively fuck everyone else." They don't want you to think about that, of course ... which means it's time to utterly blow their cover.
You're probably aware that Disney is on a roll remaking many of their classic movies in disgusting real person format. So far we've had in-the-flesh versions of Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, The Jungle Book, Beauty And The Beast, and Winnie The Pooh. And this year is going to see another four movies added to that list, including Aladdin and The Lion King. We'd make a joke here about how we're eventually going to get a live-action remake of Toy Story, but we absolutely guarantee you that right now, someone in Anaheim is trying to decide between John Mulaney and a CG Tom Hanks for the role of Woody.
After a trailer for the Aladdin remake was released last year, however, screenwriter Terry Rossio dropped the bombshell that he and everyone else who worked on the original movie were getting shafted by the remake.
In order to understand why, we need to get all "inside baseball" with the animation industry. Under Writers Guild of America rules, whenever a creative work is reused or adapted, its original creator must be compensated -- that is, all creative works except for animated movies, which are usually owned outright by their respective studios.
So with regards to Aladdin, Disney owns everything, which means that they can legally get away with paying Rossio basically nothing. Aladdin and The Lion King are two of the most iconic films in the history of animation, and that's mostly because the filmmakers didn't phone it in. Here:
This was a labor of love by storyboard artist Jorgen Klubien, for which he was rewarded with a writing credit ... a credit the remake is taking away from him, even though it lifts his work verbatim. The Aladdin remake also reuses the rhyme that the Cave of Wonders yells at Jafar, which Rossio wrote.
And that's probably what made the live-action remakes an attractive prospect to begin with ... maybe even moreso than the guaranteed returns they'd see from millennials seeking a nostalgia high.
Netflix knows the shows we've watched, it knows what shows we'd probably like, and it knows what thumbnails are most likely to get us to watch something. We'd ordinarily point out that they're only able to do this because of the insane amount of data that they've gathered on each of us. That explanation bums us out, however, so we're going to attribute all this to magic.
That said, there is a sketchy side to this personalization. For example, when it comes to black users, Netflix deceptively rebrands its content to seem more "black."
It all started when writer and podcaster Stacia L Brown noticed that Netflix was recommending movies such as Like Father and Love Actually using thumbnails that implied a focus on black characters. But the black people highlighted in these thumbnails were more often than not minor characters who only showed up for a few minutes. (That Awkward Moment starred Zac Efron, but for some black viewers, the movie's thumbnail on Netflix pushed Michael B. Jordan.)
Netflix denied gathering data on users' race or ethnicity, and insisted that there couldn't be any differences in the thumbnails offered to White Netflix and Black Netflix. But as several data scientists also pointed out, Netflix doesn't need to gather this sort of demographic data explicitly, because its algorithm will work that stuff out on its own.
Frankly, we don't know what's worse -- that Netflix built a racist robot, or that it has no idea it built a racist robot.
If we were to list the worst things about Coachella, it would start with "the music," and "how expensive it is," then "the never-ending slew of frat boys," maybe tossing in "the vast amounts of cultural appropriation," and possibly "the music" again.
Oh, and how the guy who runs the whole shebang, Philip Anschutz, is a giant gay-bashing asshole.
As the head of entertainment super-provider AEG, Anschutz is one of the richest people in America, with a net worth of approximately $12.9 billion. In 2016, The Washington Post reported that he was a regular donor to anti-LGBTQ groups. These include the Alliance Defending Freedom, the National Christian Foundation (a "charitable" foundation which has provided over $163 million of funding to smaller, more hardline anti-LGTBQ groups), and the Family Research Council, which has been described by the SPLC as an extremist group, on account of their belief that "homosexual conduct is harmful to the persons who engage in it and to society at large."
After this revelation, Anschutz denied that he was a homophobe, and immediately stopped donating to these causes (as indicated by his tax filings). But he has since donated to smaller right-wing religious groups, such as "Pray in Jesus Name," "Dare 2 Share Ministries," and "Young Life," as well as dozens of conservative and libertarian organizations (including a lobbying group operated by the Koch brothers). His intentions surely only continue to be pure.
Much like Walmart, Walgreens has some pretty hefty political pull. And they're using it to undermine the system in Wisconsin in return for, you guessed it, tax breaks. Back in 2008, Walgreens successfully won a court ruling which allowed it to dodge millions in property taxes. This was deeply unpopular, not least because it placed the onus for covering the resultant budgetary shortfall on families and small businesses, who saw their taxes raised to a higher rate than in neighboring states.
In 2017, a bipartisan initiative of state legislators pushed to change the law and close the loophole, which was shut down by the legislature's Republican leaders, Robin Vos and Scott Fitzgerald. Guess who also got some nice donations from Walgreens? Yep. Both men received $1,000 each (a decent amount at their level), while a PAC called the "Committee to Elect a Republican Senate" also received a whopping $6,000.
A recent investigation by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance has revealed that full-service grocery stores are being deliberately squeezed out of low-income areas by dollar chains. Whenever a dollar store -- such as Dollar General, Family Dollar, and Dollar Tree -- opens in these communities, it isn't uncommon for preexisting grocery stores to experience a 30 percent drop in sales. Considering the thin profit margins at which these kind of stores typically operate, that's enough to force them into closure.
The area then becomes fully dependent on dollar chains for their groceries. And this, along with the fact that dollar stores typically travel in packs of two or three, means that new grocers and other small businesses aren't able to take root. There are now more 30,000 dollar stores nationwide, which means that these stores are feeding a significant proportion of the population. This is extremely disconcerting, considering that the selection in many dollar stores, while cheap, is so far beyond the descriptor "unhealthy" that it's not even funny. Grocery stores represent one of the few places where low-income people can buy fresh, healthy produce, and dollar stores are eradicating that option.
When you drill down the numbers, dollar stores don't even come out as that cheap, either. They might have a lower sticker price, sure, but unlike grocery stores, they package many of their products in smaller quantities, which often results in a higher cost per ounce. Wow, poor quality and shitty pricing! Where do we sign u- oh right, we don't get a choice.
Adam Wears is on Twitter and Facebook, and has a newsletter dedicated to depressing history facts. It's not as heartbreakingly sad as it sounds, promise!
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