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Out of Scope Issue 15: The Who’s Who of Reading Lists
This week’s non-required thinking on reputation, business, and culture
This week, we finally get to talk about someone’s favorite subject: charismatic megafauna. Plus, we’re covering Ellen’s last season, Elon’s SNL appearance, and to-be-elected officials’ favorite books.
📡 ON OUR RADAR
Plans only work as well as the execution… Biden’s White House team is pulling together great, tight messaging, but that doesn’t mean it’s being used! The culprit? The Big Guy himself.
Social media users are wising up to the value of their content and platforms are responding with new offerings to help them make money from what they post. As Facebook and Twitter more closely resemble legacy media, they are offering legacy media services to their creators, like financial advice, legal advice, and editorial guidelines
Netflix, Amazon Studios, and WarnerMedia have decided to boycott the Hollywood Foreign Press Association over the lack of diversity in the organization. While the HFPA feels they’ve taken action, the rest of Hollywood seems to disagree, so much so that, NBC has decided it won't air the Golden Globe Awards In 2022. When Tom Cruise is protesting against your lack of diversity— maybe it’s time to read the writing on the wall.
This Paris Teenager was just named the would-be next queen of Italy but Italians don’t seem to remember (or care) that their defunct royal family is still around. Power only goes as far as perception!
Stacy Abrams’s bedside reading list casts her as a broad-minded public intellectual with a desire to reach across the aisle, different from the polarizing figure she’s been seen as since the Georgia gubernatorial election. Reading lists are one of the media’s favorite tactics for establishing political positioning; in New York, Gothamist asked the mayoral candidates to name their top NYC-based reads.
Have a cause you want people to rally around? An idea you want to sell? A forest that needs saving? Hold a casting call for some “charismatic megafauna,” i.e. a big cuddly animal that the public can relate to, instead of a cold abstract idea. Think polar bears for climate change. The latest place we’ve seen this tactic? Cute but endangered or extinct animals as a way to normalize synthetic biology. Next up: Lab-grown meat and designer babies?
It’s the last dance! From “Yep, I’m Gay” to “Be Kind to One Another”, Ellen DeGeneres has held on tight during her rollercoaster of a career, but it after 19 seasons, she is ending her reign over the daytime talk TV realm. Ellen’s ratings tanked after allegations of a toxic workplace flooded the internet in 2019 and she hasn’t been able to recover her “kind” persona since.
We’re more than 100 days out of the last presidential administration and Slate answered the questions we didn’t know we had: where are they now? Of interest, Slate’s “pariah ratings” for each former member of Trumpland.
💡ON OUR MINDS
MAYBE DON’T THREATEN EMPLOYEES TO MAKE THEM COME BACK
This week, the Washington Post ran an editorial from the CEO of Washingtonian Media Cathy Merrill in which she made fairly clear threats to employees who weren’t interested in returning to the office full time.
In response, Washingtonian employees said they would not be publishing an issue that day.
Neiman Lab published an article in response noting that those “extras” employees are expected to participate in to uphold office culture are often unpaid. And who is most likely to be doing that unpaid labor? Women. And research shows these “extra” tasks that are seemingly “essential” are not considered when it comes time for performance reviews.
As Charlie Warzel put it, “The whole thing has some real ‘eyyy...nice career you got there...be a shame if, you know, somethin’ happened to it' energy.”
CEO of real estate and office space company, WeWork, weighed in on the conversation, saying that “uberly engaged” employees are the ones who will return to the office… coming off as a bit tone-deaf while proclaiming all who don’t return to be less engaged employees.
Many a think piece has covered the fact that people from all walks of life have seen the benefits of working from home, or at least a more flexible working environment, in the past year. The impending #FutureOfWork issue? Communicating company decisions to a workforce that has had a year to get used to flexibility.
ELON MUSK HOSTS SNL: PEAK THOUGHT LEADERSHIP OR A NETWORK’S ATTEMPT TO STAY RELEVANT?
Elon Musk joined the club as one of the few business people to host SNL this past Saturday, and his jokes led to real-world consequences -- dogecoin’s stock price crashed after Musk joked that it’s a “hustle.”
For one man to make one comment that hints at reputational concerns and impact the actual stock is, arguably, the ultimate display of the power of thought leadership. And for him to do it on the stage of SNL? Both a power move and vintage Musk weirdness.
But for SNL, the move to have Musk host read to many as an attempt to stay relevant in an era of waning viewership. This was the first episode they live-streamed internationally, and it seems the bet on Musk’s reputation to draw curiosity paid off in the short-term at least, according to the post-show rise in Google searches.
SNL has long been a cultural bellwether, and the blend of political controversy, celebrity CEO culture, and experiments in streaming content, all in one week, is perhaps a new vision of what’s mainstream.
We’ll see you here next week! 👋
The fine print:
This newsletter brought to you by JLo and Ben Affleck’s resurrected relationship.