Beyond the Bricks: Week of 10/31

On-set Accident Shakes Film Industry

Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was fatally shot on Oct. 21, 2021, during the filming of “Rust,” an independent Western. While it was originally suspected that a prop gun was involved in the accident, it was later confirmed that actor Alec Baldwin had been given a vintage Colt pistol loaded with a live round. The production’s assistant director had declared the weapon safe before handing it off to Baldwin.

As of now, no one has been arrested by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s office, but the possibility of criminal charges has not been ruled out. In the meantime, Hollywood is mourning and demanding accountability over Hutchins’ death.

A petition calling for a ban of real firearms on film sets has gathered over 60,000 signatures, including actress and director, Olivia Wilde. Others believe that the fault lies with the film’s chaotic production though, and that the accident happened due to negligence and budget cutting on the part of the film’s producers. Numerous crew members had walked off of the set due to gun safety concerns, along with other safety and COVID-19 protocol issues, before the accident.

Facebook Tries to Pivot From Controversy

With the release of “The Facebook Papers" on Oct. 22, 2021, the social media company has found itself mired in controversy. The documents, which detail a treasure trove of information revealing its internal dealings, were leaked by former product manager, Frances Haugen. To her, they highlight Facebook's priority with profits over societal good and its users' well being.

The papers have been sent to the Securities and Exchange Commission, various members of Congress and a consortium of 17 U.S. news organizations. They've led to a dip in Facebook stock, lawmaker inquiry and a shareholder resolution to lessen the power of the company's chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg. The documents highlight many of the hot-button issues associated with the company, such as teen mental health and extremism.

Facebook has denied the paper's claims, stating that they don't tell the full story. Along with doing so, the company also announced various changes during its third-quarter earnings call. Zuckerberg stated, "We are retooling our teams to make serving young adults their North Star." The company is also hoping to build an online "metaverse" through its augmented and virtual reality tech over the next decade.

The January 6 Commission Punches Up

The House’s investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021 attack continues and has begun to examine individuals in the upper echelon of the U.S. government. Some of the planners of the pro-Trump rallies that took place that day in Washington, D.C. have started to communicate with investigators and journalists, sharing information about the day and its surrounding events.

These cooperating witnesses are confirming prior indications that members of Congress were involved and are also shedding light onto what degree. They claim that they interacted with members of Trump’s team, including former White House Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows. Along with them, the sources also described participating in numerous meetings with members of Congress, such as Mo Brooks and Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Nick Dyer, Greene’s communications director, disputes the claims though, stating, “Congresswoman Greene and her staff were focused on the Congressional election objection on the House floor and had nothing to do with planning of any protest.” He compared her efforts to dispute the certification of Biden’s victory as similar to Democrats’ responses after Trump’s election.