Ring Partners With Cop Reality Show Producer To Produce New Third-Party Generated Clip Show
from the offensive-charm-offensive dept
Ring wants to bring you a cop show without most of the cops — “America’s Funniest Home Videos” but all the footage has been recorded by Amazon’s home surveillance products. Here’s Deadline’s inadvertently cheery reporting of Ring’s new charm offensive: one it hopes will win hearts, minds, and market share by showing America just what sort of wacky footage can be gathered with always-on cameras.
Wanda Sykes is knocking on the door of syndication with a new series that features videos taken from Ring doorbells.
The series, which will launch on September 26, will feature viral videos shared by people from their video doorbells and smart home cameras.
It’s a television take on a genre that has been increasingly going viral on social media.
The series will feature clips such as neighbors saving neighbors, marriage proposals, military reunions and silly animals.
Sounds fun. It also sounds (as Deadline says) “synergistic.” By “synergistic,” Deadline possibly means “opportunistic.”
Amazon owns both MGM Television and Ring. Producers of the show claim the show will be “hilarious” and “uplifting” and will somehow bring families together by giving them a chance to bond over footage it doesn’t cost a cent for either of these entities to produce.
What isn’t highlighted in Deadline’s article are the more problematic aspects of Ring and its absurdly close relationship with law enforcement. It also doesn’t highlight the problematic aspects of the two production companies that have teamed up to bring “Ring Nation” to life. Here’s Edward Ongweso Jr., reporting for Motherboard:
The show is being produced by MGM Television, which is owned by Amazon, and Big Fish Entertainment, which ran another dystopian reality show: a piece of copaganda called Live PD which centered on commentary of police footage.
According to Deadline, the show will feature lighthearted viral content captured on Ring cameras, such as “neighbors saving neighbors, marriage proposals, military reunions and silly animals.” These types of videos frequently go viral online, but hardly represent the reality of what Ring is used for. Besides home surveillance, Ring is a source of surveillance video for police departments in the U.S. and abroad.
A&E’s “Live PD” was a police reality show that ran from 2016-2020. Following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police Derek Chauvin, the producers decided to pull the plug… temporarily. It appears the producers believe America is ready for another cop reality show and has brought it back (under a new name).
Most problematically, “Live PD” destroyed footage of Texas deputies tasing a black man to death during an arrest. According to the show’s producers, this was not an attempt to destroy evidence. It pointed to its agreement with the sheriff’s department, which allowed the show to destroy an “unaired footage” after 30 days. The caveat was “unless needed for an investigation.” Apparently, the sheriff’s department felt this incident needed no investigation. The end result was the indictment of Sheriff Robert Cody for evidence tampering — something aided and abetted by “Live TV.”
So, it’s clear the new show will not be playing clips showing police engaged in misconduct that happen to have been caught by Ring cameras. It will not be highlighting Ring’s insanely close relationship with law enforcement, which makes cops subservient to Ring’s PR team and rewards them with cheap or free cameras to hand out to citizens with the implicit understanding that recipients will give cops access to footage without needing to seek a warrant.
It also won’t point out cops can still access footage without warrants or customer notification by approaching Ring directly and asking it to search footage stashed in its cloud storage. It won’t mention the company’s experimentation with facial recognition AI and license plate reader capabilities. It definitely won’t be showing any of the “hilarity” that results when poorly-secured home surveillance cameras are hijacked by malicious hackers. And it certainly won’t inform viewers or Ring customers that lawmakers and law enforcement officials are making moves to turn privately-owned cameras into extensions of government surveillance networks.
No, this will be paid programming — advertising disguised as entertainment. It will be reputational rehab for a company that wants to be part of everyone’s lives, but has chosen to focus on creating law enforcement partnerships rather than serving their end users. Hopefully, this program will go nowhere quickly, buried under a wealth of far more worthwhile programming available pretty much everywhere.