To kick off this year’s WIRED25, a group of entrepreneurs, filmmakers, cooks, and actors gathered (virtually) to discuss how they’re improving the world through art and culture.
During a conversation with WIRED editor in chief Nick Thompson, Netflix co-CEO and cofounder Reed Hastings described how he has maintained a culture of innovation at Netflix and how the company has risen to the challenge of entertaining a global audience. Also in discussion: the mechanics behind Netflix’s recommendation algorithm, the future of his company, and the quiet beauty of Paul Dano’s directorial debut, Wildlife.
Sonia Chopra, the executive editor of Bon Appétit, then led a talk on sustainability and equitable work practices in the food industry. Joining her was Gabriela Cámara, a chef and owner of the beloved Cala restaurant in San Francisco and Contramar in Mexico City. Accompanying them were Jon Gray, Pierre Serrao, and Lester Walker, the cofounders of the culinary collective Ghetto Gastro. During the talk, Serrao noted that “food is a system that’s been designed for people to be oppressed, for people to not operate at their optimum self by feeding them foods that are full of sugars and pesticides, processed foods.” Together, these socially conscious cooks and business owners have pushed their industry and consumers toward healthier, greener, and more egalitarian eating habits. As Serrao put it, we need to be “conscious about the sourcing and what we’re consuming.”
Next up, Nia DaCosta, the director of Little Woods and the hotly anticipated Candyman (coming in 2021), chatted with Jason Parham, a senior culture writer at WIRED. DaCosta shared her experience working with the modern-day-Hitchcock Jordan Peele, how she thinks the pandemic will affect the movie industry, and her love of horror films as a child. Horror, she says, can foster empathy. “Understanding the horror of a ghost or a serial killer can be tangible for people who don’t understand Black trauma, Black horror, Black pain.”
DaCosta is also rumored to direct the upcoming Captain Marvel II. If the reports are true, this would mark the first time an African American woman has helmed a Marvel Comics Universe movie.
Captain Marvel herself (Brie Larson) concluded today’s event alongside director Elijah Allan-Blitz and CNN contributor Van Jones. Angela Watercutter, a senior editor covering pop culture at WIRED, moderated the talk about the trio’s VR project, The Messy Truth. Their virtual reality experience aims to use the tech as an “empathy machine,” with which three-and-a-half-minute episodes place viewers in someone else’s shoes. By employing Marvel superheroes, the Emmy-nominated series aims to provide real-world good by capturing the terrifying, everyday scenarios lived by people with differing views and backgrounds. The episodes span experiences from an African American father (portrayed by Black Panther actor Winston Duke) with his son being pulled over by the police to what sexual harassment in the restaurant industry looks like (depicted by Larson). Upcoming installments will be based around immigration, the opioid crisis, and Appalachian coal country. The key, they explained, is not to preach to the choir but rather to create more understanding between both liberals and conservatives. Or, as Van Jones put it, “There are no throwaway people.”
Sign up here to watch more next week, on September 23d from noon to 1:30 pm ET. You’ll hear from Nextdoor CEO Sarah Friar, journalist Maria Ressa, venture capitalist Arlan Hamilton, and others. The overarching theme: how to build a more resilient tomorrow for both ourselves and the planet.
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