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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Technology Is Eating Hollywood (Along With Everything Else)

in May, the Writers Guild of America went on strike—partly over disputes about compensation and partly over fears that studios could use generative artificial intelligence tools to replace human writers and creators. This month, when the actor’s union SAG-AFTRA announced its own strike, things really started to heat up as some of the biggest and most recognizable movie stars joined the picket lines. Production in Hollywood has now mostly ground to a halt, negotiations with studios have stalled, and this stalemate looks as though it will persist for some time.

What do these strikes mean for the movies, shows, podcasts, and video games we consume? Will the celebrity podcasts and chat shows also go dark? Are our streaming options now going to be limited to reruns and reality shows? Senior writer Kate Knibbs joins us from WIRED’s Culture desk to discuss the shifts that technology, economics, and income disparity have wrought in Hollywood.

Show Notes

Read our coverage of the WGA strike and the actors’ strike. Learn how AI is being used in Hollywood and in video games. We also have a report from a Hollywood-free Comic-Con. Read WIRED’s entire series on the future of entertainment.

Recommendations

Kate recommends two music artists, Nation of Language and Yaya Bey. Lauren recommends the episode of WTF With Marc Maron featuring Cillian Murphy. Mike recommends the film How to Blow Up a Pipeline.

Kate Knibbs can be found on Twitter @Knibbs. Lauren Goode is @LaurenGoode. Michael Calore is @snackfight. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. The show is produced by Boone Ashworth (@booneashworth). Our theme music is by Solar Keys.

How to Listen

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Transcript

Note: This is an automated transcript, which may contain errors.

Lauren Goode: Mike.

Michael Calore: Lauren.

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Lauren Goode: It's time for Gadget Lab to go on strike.

Michael Calore: What? Really?

Lauren Goode: No, we're not actually going on strike. Though we are both members of the News Guild.

Michael Calore: Yeah.

Lauren Goode: And we have agitated before.

Michael Calore: Mm-hmm.

Lauren Goode: But no, we are not actually going on strike today.

Michael Calore: All right, phew.

Lauren Goode: Yeah. However, this is an episode about a strike, the epic Hollywood strike that's happening right now, and we're going to talk about what it means for streaming media watchers, for podcast listeners, and for the writers and actors who are fighting for fair wages.

Michael Calore: So it's more like a solidarity episode of Gadget Lab. Not exactly a strike episode.

Lauren Goode: Yeah, it's a solidarity episode.

Michael Calore: All right, well, I can't wait.

Lauren Goode: Let's do it.

[Gadget Lab intro theme music plays]

Lauren Goode: Hey, everyone. Welcome to Gadget Lab. I am Lauren Goode. I'm a senior writer at WIRED.

Michael Calore: And I'm Michael Calore. I'm a senior editor at WIRED.

Lauren Goode: And our colleague Kate Knibbs, who is also a WIRED senior writer, is back on the show, joining us from Chicago. Kate, it's great to have you back in the Lab.

Kate Knibbs: Hi, comrades. I'm so happy to be here.

Lauren Goode: All right, so we're going to talk about Hollywood today, and before some of you tune out or wonder what the historic Hollywood strike has to do with you, well, this is the Gadget Lab, and this is where we talk about ways tech and digital media are changing our lives. So we want to talk about how all of this is affecting the creation of some of the most culturally significant films and TV shows that we all now stream. So a little background first. Back in May, the Writers Guild of America went on strike, and this was partly over who makes money, ultimately, from streaming media and partly over fears that studios could use AI to replace human writers and creators. And then, earlier this month, the Screen Actors Guild, SAG-AFTRA, announced its own strike, and things really started to heat up, because in this case, some of the most recognizable faces—big, big movie stars—were on the front line of this. And so now most of the production of movies and shows in Hollywood have grounded to a halt, and it's all at a stalemate, which means it might not be over anytime soon. Kate, as our friend of the pod and one of our preeminent culture writers, we wanted to ask you what these strikes mean for the media we consume, the celebrity podcasts we listen to, and whether this means we're going to be watching only reruns in reality TV a year from now. OK, so first, what productions or films that we know of were in production at the time of this strike now have paused.

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Kate Knibbs: So if you know of any really big name movies or TV shows that are currently in production, they're almost all on pause. For instance, Gladiator 2 , the long-awaited sequel to Ridley Scott's masterpiece is—production has been halted. Euphoria, season three. There's like a whole slew of adaptations. There's a Wicked movie, a live-action Lilo & Stitch, a new version of Interview With a Vampire. Every major Hollywood production is halted right now. So this is going to have a tremendous impact on the media that we consume in the next year, and maybe even the next few years, depending on how long the strikes last.

Michael Calore: So it's true that the directors have their own guild, the Director's Guild of America, and producers have their own guild, and they have contracts, so they're not striking. So if something is wrapped with shooting and wrapped with ADR, like dialog and looping and all of that, and all they're doing is editing the movie or putting the finishing touches on it. Then the movie will probably still come out, right?

Kate Knibbs: I think most of them will, but there's some exceptions. I believe that Dune 2 is pretty wrapped, but they're considering pushing it back just because this strike, in addition to actors and writers not coming to work and doing their jobs, they're also not promoting the films. And I think there's major concerns that, especially with the actors, because let's be real, people are paying more attention when someone like Tom Cruise is promoting a movie versus who, whoever, whatever wonderful mind wrote Mission Impossible. If there's like an absolute blackout on movie promotion, that might seriously negatively impact big blockbusters that are nearly ready to go. So it might end up even affecting movies that you might think would still be able to come out, just because there's a whole machine involved with getting a movie to the top of the box office.

Lauren Goode: We should probably talk about what it is the unions are demanding.

Kate Knibbs: Absolutely. There's a variety of demands. Obviously, economic demands are the big ones. In the streaming age, the way that writers and actors are being compensated has changed quite significantly, and it's usually in favor of executives and studios and a big disadvantage to actors and writers, especially actors and writers who are emerging or even mid-career. People used to be able to make a living off of residuals, like journeymen actors, writers who would be working steadily but not necessarily household names. Those people would be able to eke out a good middle-class or even upper-middle-class lifestyle, largely because they were being compensated more or less fairly, and they were making money off residuals. That has changed in the streaming era. So writers and actors aren't getting the residuals they used to get, or in some cases they're not getting any at all. There's a viral TikTok that really illustrated this with one of the actors from Orange Is the New Black who—and that's like one of Netflix's most popular shows ever, and this is not a bit actor, it's one of the main characters. I forget exactly what her name was in the show, but she was a big deal. Anyways, she showed her residuals and it was sometimes 0.01 cents. It was nothing. And it sort of demonstrated how these residuals that used to be things that you could buy a house with are now things you can't even buy a coffee with. So that is one of the major demands of these guilds. Additionally and very relevant to WIRED is there's a huge discussion about how AI is going to be used in films going forward and what that's going to mean for the actors and writers involved in making the movies, whether it's AI being used instead of a writer for a screenplay, or it's AI replacing background actors in scenes that are being shot. So they're demanding at least a seat at the table and having conversations about how AI is used, not just having studios completely control this new technology.

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Michael Calore: I think the discussion of background actors is really important because a lot of people are probably reading the news and listening to this show and thinking like, "OK, yeah, Hollywood actors, Hollywood writers, they're all super rich, why should we care?" But that's what you're seeing is the tip of the iceberg in the industry. And there are hundreds of thousands of people who make a living off of this industry who make as much or less than you do. And background actors are a big part of that. These are people who never have speaking roles or very, very occasionally have speaking roles, people who are just getting started out in their careers and they show up and they stand around all day and they get a payment for doing that because they're on camera, they're in costume, they've gone through makeup, they do all the things that an actor does except for speak lines. These people could get replaced by digital simulacra of them. I'm sure that there are companies that are working on it. There are companies that offer this now as a plug-in in Adobe Software, basically, where you can just fill in a scene with people just like you fill in a scene with a castle in the background or a beach scene or something like that. So AI is actually already costing human beings work. And I think what they're arguing for is not only that protection, but also the protection against AI being used to change what they say. So if they want to do a rewrite and they don't want to pay to fly the actor into a studio where they can sit in front of a microphone and do it again, or they don't want to pay for a reshoot, they can just use a computer to create that reshoot, virtually. Actors don't want that to happen because they want control over their performance. And also they want to make sure that if they're being asked to do something in a movie, that they're getting paid for that work.

Lauren Goode: And Kate, what has been the primary argument of the major studios and the media moguls, like David Zaslva or Bob Iger, in this fight?

Kate Knibbs: It's been pretty jarring how out of touch a lot of the executives' arguments have been. They are tending to say, you know, "It's show business, it's not something we're doing for fun. We are trying to make a profit." I think there's been a lot of attempts to play off people's sympathies about how, especially the movie industry has gone through a very rocky patch. During Covid when theaters were shut for a long time there were really great concerns that the movie industry wouldn't recover. And so there's been a lot of attempts to play off people's genuine love of cinema and to say, "Look, we're just doing what needs to be done to turn a profit in an increasingly difficult business." Which would be a line that I think would hold much more appeal if we weren't able to look up how much these executives were making and then compare it to what people are demanding and see that hundreds of million dollars of executive compensation doesn't necessarily correlate in a persuasive way with a studio that has no choice but to underpay and exploit its actors and writers and all the people who are actually making the products that people want to watch.

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Lauren Goode: And have there been any concessions so far, particularly maybe with the Writer's Guild since that had a nearly two-month head start?

Kate Knibbs: It seems very much in flux still, like I think people are surprised that this hasn't been resolved. I think people on both sides were hoping it would be resolved more quickly. But I'm curious … I think that the fact that SAG-AFTRA jumped in and are now striking alongside the WGA is going to be a huge boon to the WGA and to the workers in the industry in general. But right now it's completely unresolved. I'm assuming in my optimistic heart that there will be compromises made. But yeah, so far, I mean there's no contracts, there's no agreements. It's unclear how exactly this will shake out.

Lauren Goode: All right, let's take a quick break and we're going to come back with more strike talk.

[Break]

Lauren Goode: We've now covered what the Hollywood strike is about and what exactly it is that writers and actors are fighting for here. And for what it's worth, all of us being union members here, we get it. So our next conversation isn't us expressing dismay around the pauses in production or suggesting that people should cross the picket line for our entertainment. But we do want to talk about the trickle down effects of this and what the film and TV industry might look like, say a year from now. Kate, what happens if the strike goes on for months? What then?

Kate Knibbs: We're definitely going to see a change in what new content is available to watch or listen to. There's going to be a point where there aren't as many Hollywood based productions coming out because there's currently a pause on them being made. And that doesn't mean there's going to be no TV shows or movies. I'm expecting Netflix will be leaning really heavily on the fact that it's a global company and that it can put out productions from countries where the actors and writers are indifferent unions or not unionized at all. I think that network TV shows and very US-centric movie studios will be the most negatively impacted because they won't have the ability to do that. So Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, the big streamers are better positioned to handle the strike than their legacy competitors. It will be very interesting. So one thing, I used to be in the WGA when I worked for The Ringer, I was messaging my coworkers asking them if they were going to be on strike, and the answer is no. Even though they're part of the WGA, the people who are part of the digital wing of the WGA are not on strike. They're not even allowed to go on strike because they have no strike clauses in the contracts that they've created with their digital media companies. So like podcast studios will continue to put out a lot of content. It'll be interesting to see if Hollywood stars who also have podcasts will lean into podcasting even more since that's something they can do without becoming scabs. And then of course, game shows will definitely be more prominent. Apparently there's a celebrity Wheel of Fortune already coming out in September, reality shows. I'm very interested in how AI will play into all of this because it seems like something that executives might be very tempted to use to create scripts and even actors, but that's also going to really enrage the people that they're currently in this conflict with. So I would bet the AI will be experimented with, but I'm not sure how broadly, I guess it depends how hostile things get. My larger level predictions are, podcasting is going to continue to grow because that's something that people can do, and then reality TV and game shows.

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Lauren Goode: Although on podcasts, there are still limitations for who, if celebrities can appear on podcasts to promote a film, right?

Kate Knibbs: No, they can't promote their films. They can't, like we couldn't have someone on to talk about a movie that they were doing. But you know how there are celebrities, for instance, Marc Maron, I'm assuming he's in the WGA and SAG-AFTRA… He's definitely in SAG. He can still do his podcast though, where he interviews other people. So there's this whole genre of celebrity podcasters like Dax Shepard, the guys on Smartless, they can all still do their podcasts. They just can't have fellow celebrity guests on come to promote their work. So that will definitely change the dynamics, especially in interview shows where a lot of times people are on specifically to promote their work, but it won't complete, it won't completely halt those productions.

Michael Calore: I think as time goes on, we might see solidarity showing up in different places. For example, I know Snoop Dogg recently canceled his 30th anniversary Doggy Style concert at the Hollywood Bowl because he doesn't feel like he can do it in Hollywood, given the current situation. Also with nobody to promote television shows that are already in the bag and that are coming out, studios have been reaching out to social media influencers to ask them if they would promote the shows on their TikTok feeds or on Instagram. And some of them are doing it because they're paying a lot of good money and that's how they make their living. But some of them are saying no, partially out of solidarity, but also partially because those influencers have aspirations at being on shows at some point in their careers and they don't want to get on the bad side of the unions by-

Lauren Goode: They don't want to scab.

Michael Calore: Right, they don't want to scab.

Lauren Goode: Yeah, that's interesting.

Kate Knibbs: Yeah, actually, the was a really good New York Times piece out today talking about influencers in this, and it was noting that SAG has a rule that if you do scab, they won't give you membership.

Michael Calore: Yes.

Kate Knibbs: So it's like an explicit rule. So I think people who might be in the influencer world now but are hoping to get on scripted TV, they're not going to, they're probably not going to take the short term profit over the long arc of their career.

Lauren Goode: So we sent a writer to Comic-Con to cover it for WIRED, and it was a mixed bag because there were some people, there's a big intersection of Hollywood and TV and film in the comic world. And so I think the writer said there was definitely a smaller crowd than in years past. And some people were still getting really into cosplay and showing support for their favorite franchises and that sort of thing. But other people showed up to effectively strike in a sense. And there was this quote in the article that I thought was really interesting. Someone the writer spoke to said, "I really feel we're at the beginning of a middle class stand in this country. One of the reasons people are so sympathetic to us is that the problems of writers as labor mirror the problems of labor as labor right now." So I'm curious how you both think this is reflective of the broader labor movement happening in the United States.

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Kate Knibbs: I think that one of the main lines that you'll get from executives who oppose unionization is if an executive is trying to denigrate a group of people who have unionized who are writers, white collar professionals, they'll sort of make fun of them and be like, "You're not farm hands, what do you need a union for?" And what this strike and what unionization efforts at places like Starbucks have shown is that the similarities between these groups are so much bigger than the differences. Exploitation is exploitation regardless of the exact flavor. And I think even though maybe some people are looking at the bigger names who are involved with these strikes and thinking, "Wow, is it so bad for Brian Cranston, he's famous," or "How is it so bad for the writers of Succession?" Are there, I think more people are looking at what they're asking for and seeing how reasonable it is and seeing how it's very, it's I think a very good example of the widening gulf between workers who are creating something and executives who are profiting off of those things in this country across industries. One big way I think it's reflective is when people hear about the specific demands, how residuals used to be the backbone of a writer's compensation and way to earn a living, and now it's just sort of evaporated. They understand that even though writers might be a little more high profile than a lot of professions, the things that have happened to make it harder for them to earn a middle class living are near universal in this country, regardless of what industry you're in. Whether it's residuals, evaporating, or pensions getting taken away, or executive compensation ballooning, while wages stay stagnant despite rapid inflation, there's a very clear through line of workers losing access to opportunities to earn a middle class lifestyle as their bosses continue to become wealthier and wealthier.

Michael Calore: And in the case of SAG-AFTRA and the WGA, it also has to do with the proliferation of technology in their industry. The technology has evolved to the point where we can all stream in high definition now, that has changed the economics of how these shows work. There are more shows, there are fewer opportunities to find out exactly how many people are watching those shows. Seasons are much shorter. It used to be 24, 25, 30 episodes per season. Now it's like eight to 12 episodes per season. All of the pace of production is accelerated to the point where you don't spend as much time working on things. And with the proliferation of AI in all of these creative processes, people are left sort of scratching their heads wondering what's next. So I do think that those problems, while they are very specific to the entertainment industry and Hollywood, we can see the correlation between how technology has affected that industry and how it's affected other industries, when you look at things like warehouse workers and fulfillment workers and what's going on with Amazon and how they use technology and how that's affected their workers. So I do think that it's tech is coming to eat all of us, and Hollywood is just a very high profile example of that.

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Lauren Goode: How do both of you feel about what would be an AI generated film? People right now are sitting there, executives are sitting there with Chat GPT open, and they're tinkering around with just writing a script.

Michael Calore: I'm sure there will be one.

Lauren Goode: It's already been… I'm certain these have already landed on assistance desks somewhere.

Michael Calore: At some point this year, there will be a show that comes out that is written and acted by AI, and they're going to hold it up as how about this? And everybody in our industry is going to dunk on it. And I can't wait to read Kate's story about how bad it is.

Lauren Goode: I can't wait for the WIRED group outing of that. But truly, how would either of you feel if you knew one of the characters in Barbie or Oppenheimer were completely AI generated?

Kate Knibbs: I would probably feel unhappy because of this context that that generation was occurring in. I think five years ago, I honestly wouldn't have cared. I was thinking about when I said Gladiator 2 is currently halted, Gladiator, I remember because I was a huge fan of that movie. There was this behind the scenes little featurette about how they had created, a lot of the extras in that movie are computers way back when. They're very early computerized extras. They had to fill the whole Colosseum, and that's not all real people. And back then, that just seemed like a cool new use of technology. And I'm not completely against using AI in creative contexts at all. The distaste for it primarily comes from the fact that it's happening as there's this ongoing effort to make it harder for writers and actors and set designers and everyone who's involved in the making of films to earn a living. So yeah, if there is a movie coming out right now with a totally AI character, my reaction would be sort of anger or disgust. But largely because of the larger ideological conversation and not because there's something inherently wrong with the tech. Yeah, it's just hard to cheer for it now because of how this is happening. If there was a way for these technologies to be experimented with that ensured that people were still being compensated or that it didn't completely disrupt the industry, it would be a lot easier to just think of it, it's like a neat innovation and not something that's going to make the world less friendly to creative endeavors by humans.

Michael Calore: Yeah. I think with audio mediums, audio media, things like audio books, podcasts, radio DJs, it's a little bit harder to detect when something is AI generated. I'm sure that there are AI generated radio DJ voices on the dial right now, and we don't know, because like our brains, it's harder for us to, the uncanny valley is much slimmer.

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Lauren Goode: I think… Isn't Spotify already experimenting with that?

Michael Calore: Yeah, they have an AI…

Lauren Goode: Yeah, AI DJ.

Michael Calore: AI DJ to get the party started…

Lauren Goode: Right.

Michael Calore: On your Spotify feed. And I think about video games. The characters on the screen are already computer generated. They're made with a virtual engine. And the voices often for at least games that are driven by plot, they use real voice actors for the voices in the games. And video games have long used computer generated voices. Maybe we'll see more of that in video games, maybe we'll have sound alikes, like an actor who sounds sort of like Tom Holland but is clearly not Tom Holland, just to evoke the Tom Holland-ness of the Spiderman character in the game. Maybe we'll have things like that start to show up more often. And I don't mean just because of the strike, I mean because the strike is sending the clear signal about the role that these technologies are going to play and what's safe and what is not. And people are going to start experimenting even more than they already are.

Lauren Goode: And just to be clear, this podcast really is hosted by us. We have not yet defaulted to using AI generated voices, but we did an episode on this a few months back. At this point, Boone here, our producer has been storing up all this data on us and he created some scary Mike and Lauren voices.

Michael Calore: Yup.

Lauren Goode: It was really quite unnerving.

Michael Calore: Yeah, so unnerving. The things that he made me say, I'll never forgive him.

Lauren Goode: We just have to go into our back catalog and listen. All right, Kate, stick around because we're going to come back and do our weekly recommendations.

[Break]

Lauren Goode: Kate Knibbs, our guest. What is your recommendation this week?

Kate Knibbs: My recommendation is a crossover material from another Conde property because I went to Pitchfork Music Fest last weekend, and I'm an old Millennial who's not super hip. So I didn't know most of the artists playing. And I had one of those very lovely experiences where I went to shows… A total, I didn't know anything. And then I walked away being a huge fan of a few different bands and artists that I saw. One was called Nation of Language and they're a cool sort of pop band and I had literally never heard of them. And now I have one of their albums coming on the way to my house. I liked them so much that I went out and bought it. And then the other one that really, I mean, I didn't see a bad show there, but the other one that really blew me away was a Queens based singer named Yaya Bey. She put on one of the funnest performances I've seen in years. So Nation of Languages and Yaya Bey. Very different music, but both phenomenal and those are my recs.

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Lauren Goode: Awesome.

Michael Calore: That's nice. And that's Bey, B-E-Y.

Kate Knibbs: B-E-Y, yeah. Y-A-Y-A, B-E-Y.

Michael Calore: Nice.

Lauren Goode: Kate, I saw on your Instagram, if I may share this, you posted a photo of your son standing in a field of grass wearing these cool sunglasses. He's a little guy. And you posted at Pitchfork and I honestly thought it was ironic. Like I was… Because he looked like a little festival goer and then…

Kate Knibbs: No, he was really at Pitchfork.

Lauren Goode: And then I saw your next photos and I was like, "Oh, rad. Kate's at Pitchfork. Cool."

Kate Knibbs: He only lasted two hours and then we had take him home.

Lauren Goode: Still, baby's first Pitchfork. That's amazing.

Kate Knibbs: Yeah, baby's first music fest. It was fun.

Michael Calore: Nice.

Lauren Goode: So great. And you were there with our friend Puja Patel.

Kate Knibbs: Yes. She's the best.

Lauren Goode: Cool. She was on Have a Nice Future, our other podcast recently, which everyone should go check out.

Michael Calore: I was waiting for that.

Lauren Goode: You're welcome. Mike, what's your recommendation? I'm surprised you weren't there. You're such a music guy.

Michael Calore: Yeah, it was like halfway across the country.

Lauren Goode: Clearly you're not that big of a music guy.

Michael Calore: I guess not. I would have flown out to see Julia Jacqueline. But I understand that her set was cut short by…

Lauren Goode: Oh, yeah. Your girlfriend. Why?

Michael Calore: By a storm, right? Didn't a storm blow through during Julia Jacqueline's set?

Kate Knibbs: Julia Jacqueline, yeah. There was like Julia Jacqueline, Panda Bear, Snail Mail all got cut short because they, we had to evacuate. It was a bummer.

Michael Calore: OK. So my recommendation this week.

Lauren Goode: Yeah, tell us.

Michael Calore: I want to recommend a movie about a bunch of brainy do-it-yourselfers who go out to the desert in order to construct a bomb…

Lauren Goode: OK, so Oppenheimer.

Michael Calore: That they think will cause great change in the world and promote peace among humanity.

Lauren Goode: And it's not Oppenheimer.

Michael Calore: It's not Oppenheimer. It's called How to Blow Up a Pipeline.

Lauren Goode: OK.

Michael Calore: It's a narrative feature. It's very low budget. It looks like it was shot for a few thousand dollars and some coffee, but it's very good, very good acting, really great direction, great writing, and a wonderful message. It is about a group of people who go out to the desert. They don't know each other. They've all met… Well, some of them know each other, but most of them are strangers to each other. They all meet over Signal and they go out to the desert in Texas to blow up a pipeline. And they're doing it because they believe that the destruction of corporate property that disrupts the industry of oil production is the thing that is going to draw attention to the climate crisis. And it's a movie about putting those beliefs into action. It's a movie about how strong are your convictions, what are you willing to sacrifice, and what are your motivations for doing these things? So you learn about the inner lives of the characters and what is driving them to make these decisions. It's really excellent, especially right now. I mean, the movie's very urgent. People feel very urgently about the climate crisis and the movie is not necessarily encouraging people to go blow things up, but it is showing how to do that, which is also feels a little transgressive, I think, a little bit dangerous. And I like that about it, because I like things that are edgy, but it's also just a beautiful experience. I really liked it.

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Lauren Goode: And what did you stream it on?

Michael Calore: I streamed it on the internet.

Lauren Goode: OK.

Michael Calore: Which is just to say you can rent it everywhere.

Lauren Goode: It's everywhere. OK.

Michael Calore: It came out last year, I think it premiered at Toronto Film Festival in 2022, and it is now available for rent on all the streaming platforms.

Lauren Goode: OK.

Michael Calore: Yes.

Lauren Goode: So it was at Tiff. That's what the cool kids say, right? Tiff.

Michael Calore: Tiff, yeah. Not like JPEGs, but Toronto International Film Festival, yeah.

Lauren Goode: Right, exactly. That's a great recommendation. Thank you. I'm going to try to watch it.

Michael Calore: Great. I hope you enjoy it. What is your recommendation?

Lauren Goode: Kate mentioned the Marc Maron podcast earlier. I do like a good Marc Maron podcast. I think I've recommended it before on this show, right?

Michael Calore: Oh, yes.

Lauren Goode: Which episode? Do you remember?

Michael Calore: All of them?

Lauren Goode: No. There was a specific episode. I don't remember which one. So one of the more recent episodes, he interviews Cillian. I'm one day going to get that right. Cillian.

Michael Calore: Cillian Murphy.

Lauren Goode: Oh, it's just my brain just goes to Cillian. Isn't that weird? I mean, I also…

Michael Calore: It's because he's silly beautiful.

Lauren Goode: He's got a silly baby face, when you think about, I used to drink a lot of Killian's beer, so you would think that I would get that right. Sorry, Marc Maron interviews Cillian Murphy. Two reasons why I like this episode in particular: one is because for basically the first 15 minutes of it… Would you say, Mike, you listened to it as well… Marc talks about the strike, the Hollywood strike and makes an impassioned case for it. And also makes clear that he did this interview with the actor Cillian Murphy before all the actors went on strike. And so he was airing it a little bit later. But two, because I think Cillian Murphy is having this kind of breakout moment because of Oppenheimer. I think a lot of people knew who he was from his prior work and Peaky Blinders, which I had never really gone into. But I think of all of the potential critiques you could make of the film Oppenheimer… And they're out there, you can find them. And we talked about it a little bit on last week's episode as well. The fact that it fails the Bechdel test, I do think that his performance is great. And so it was a fun listen to listen to.

Michael Calore: That's great.

Lauren Goode: Just to learn a little bit more about him.

Michael Calore: Yeah.

Lauren Goode: Although you still don't learn a whole lot, but that's OK. Yeah. And so I recommend checking out the Marc Maron WTF podcast episode with Cillian Murphy.

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Michael Calore: I think that movie is going to sweep the Oscars.

Lauren Goode: Yeah.

Michael Calore: There's critical consensus about it being good. It's a box office hit. It's Christopher Nolan and there will be no other movies this year because of the strike. So I think it's like this is what we get. We get Oppenheimer and Barbie and Barbie's, the bigger hit, but I think Oppenheimer is the one that is going to win all the Oscars. It's going to win all the acting awards, the directing awards, the editing awards, the sound awards, the cinematography awards, all of it. That's my prediction.

Lauren Goode: That's your prediction?

Michael Calore: That's my prediction.

Lauren Goode: All right. Well, that's good because we might be watching that till the end of time. Next year, if there's no new films out, we might just be like, "Let's watch Oppenheimer again."

Michael Calore: Will there be an Oscars?

Lauren Goode: That's a good question.

Michael Calore: Will there be a telecast? Will it just be like the president of the society…

Lauren Goode: I don't know. We're all going to be stuck watching…

Michael Calore: Reading names.

Lauren Goode: Zucker versus Musk Cage match. We're all going to be stuck watching Zuck versus Muck, Musk cage mass. I can't fucking talk. We're all going to be stuck watching a Zuck versus Musk cage masses from… No. I can't say it. Fuck it. I give up on the joke. I tried work shopping it, it didn't work. Sometimes you have to let things go.

Michael Calore: You do.

Kate Knibbs: Zuck versus Musk is a very awkward thing to say. It doesn't come out of the mouth very nicely, but I agree. We're going to be stuck watching…

Lauren Goode: Yeah.

Kate Knibbs: Musk versus Zuck.

Lauren Goode: It's the reality TV future we deserve.

Kate Knibbs: Yeah.

Lauren Goode: All right. This has been a great conversation, Kate. Thanks so much for joining us. It's always great to have you on the pod.

Kate Knibbs: Thank you so much for having me. I can't wait to come back and I can't wait until you finally make me the friend of the pod merch that you promised to make me last time.

Lauren Goode: That's right. That's right. We need to make that for Kate. We also want to, we're going to get some WIRED running merch.

Michael Calore: Yeah.

Lauren Goode: We've been talking about that, too, the a group of us who go run this race in Oakland once in a while.

Michael Calore: And train for it together

Lauren Goode: And train for it together. Mike and I go running together and we've been saying for a while we're going to get some WIRED merch.

Michael Calore: Yup.

Lauren Goode: As though … Does that convert to subscriptions, do you think? Us like running like fools around a lake in Oakland a few times and people are like, "You know, I should subscribe to that magazine."

Michael Calore: Maybe we should try and negotiate it into our …

Lauren Goode: They look like they're having fun.

Michael Calore: Maybe we should try and negotiate it into our union contract.

Lauren Goode: And on that note, thanks to all of you for listening. If you have feedback, you can find all of us on Twitter. Just check the show notes. Someone actually did leave us feedback recently. Yeah. They call this a bunch of journalism majors that know nothing about tech. And I just have something to say to that.

Michael Calore: Not a journalism major.

Lauren Goode: Who know nothing about tech.

Michael Calore: Yes.

Lauren Goode: Our producer is the excellent Boone Ashworth. We'll be back next week. Goodbye for now.

[Gadget Lab outro theme music plays]

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