What in the World—Week of April 4

EU wants to slow fast fashion 
The EU is taking aim at the fast-fashion industry with new rules proposing that clothes must be longer-lasting and easier to repair, according to a report by NPR. “It’s time to end the model of ‘take, make, break and throw away’ that is so harmful to our planet, our health and our economy,” said the EU’s executive vice-president, Frans Timmermans. In a document outlining the proposal, the EU says that fast fashion’s affordability has been “enticing consumers to keep on buying clothing of inferior quality and lower price, produced rapidly in response to the latest trends.” It says that clothes use in Europe has the fourth highest impact on the environment, behind only food, housing and transport. More than 5.8 million tonnes of textiles—about 11 kilograms per person—are discarded in the EU each year.

Twitter is getting more Musk-y
Tesla CEO Elon Musk, one of Twitter’s most avid users and outspoken critics, has acquired a 9.2% stake in the social media company. The stake is worth an estimated $2.9 billion and makes Musk Twitter’s largest owner, according to Bloomberg. Last month, Musk polled his more than 80 million followers, asking them if they feel Twitter adheres to the principles of free speech. More than 70% of his respondents said no, prompting Musk to muse about starting his own platform. The stake will be a “major test” for Twitter’s new CEO Parag Agrawal, said Bloomberg. Musk previously targeted Agrawal with a meme that depicted him as Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin pushing his predecessor Jack Dorsey—as secret police head Nikolai Yezhov—into a river.

WWE gets into scripted TV
It’s common knowledge that professional wrestling is scripted, but World Wrestling Entertainment is now pile driving its way into TV content with a pair of fictionalized shows: A Spanish-language comedy about an aspiring female wrestler called Contra Las Cuerdas set to air on Netflix in Mexico, and a Succession-style drama called Pinned that follows a family running a wrestling company. According to The Wall Street Journal, WWE CEO Vince McMahon is looking to drive new revenue and find additional distribution platforms. The company operated its own streaming service, WWE Network, until last year, but its content is now carried exclusively by NBCUniversal’s Peacock as part of a five-year deal valued at $1 billion. The organization is also partnering with production company Blumhouse to develop a show called The United States vs. Vince McMahon, which tells the story of the U.S. government’s 1994 indictment of McMahon for allegedly providing wrestlers with anabolic steroids. McMahon was ultimately acquitted.

Movie makers reportedly cool on Will Smith
One week after the slap heard around the world, stories are starting to emerge about the damage to Will Smith’s brand. On Saturday, The Hollywood Reporter said Netflix has now put the in-development film Fast and Loose, which was to star Smith, on the “backburner.” Meanwhile Apple+ has the slave escape drama Emancipation in post-production, but would not comment on the release date, and Sony has paused Bad Boys 4. The Sun also reported both Apple+ and Netflix have pulled their bids for the rights to produce Smith’s biopic based on his 2021 autobiography. The New York Times explored the impact on Smith’s brand on the weekend, and could not confirm if studios were altering plans. But it said, “three talent agents, who were granted anonymity to describe private negotiations, said there had been indications that at least some of his upcoming projects could be hanging in the balance.”

Russian ad market could fall by half in 2022
With Russia still waging war on Ukraine and facing increasingly punitive economic sanctions, the country’s economy and ad market are expected to suffer significantly in 2022. Insider Intelligence Inc., is now forecasting the country’s ad market to plunge by almost half (49.7%) from last year to $3.55 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal. The firm had previously projected the market would rise 7.5% from 2021, to $6.89 billion. The forecast is based on J.P. Morgan’s prediction that Russia’s GDP will fall 7%. “The war in Ukraine will have an impact on ad spending in Russia because of the economic fallout of the war itself, as well as all the sanctions that have been imposed on Russia,” said Oscar Bruce Jr., of Insider Intelligence. Meanwhile, IPG’s Magna said the global instability caused by Russia’s invasion could cause U.S. ad spend to drop 1% from previous expectations, though it could still reach a record-breaking $320 billion.

David Brown